Scribe was on top of the world in the early 2000s. He achieved success as a rapper that paved the way for aspiring hip-hop musicians in Aotearoa.
But his success crumbled as quickly as it appeared. The rapper, whose full name is Malo Ioane Luafutu, dives deep into his demons in a new eight-part documentary on TVNZ OnDemand, from his time topping the charts to spending two months in jail.
It is oversimplifying the contents to assert Scribe: Return of The Crusader as a redemption doco to promote his return to music. Rather, the documentary seeks to go deeper – unpacking his friends’ and family’s accounts of what he went through. Most importantly, it tackles the lessons he wants other young creatives following in his footsteps to learn.
It seeks to answer the central question: who is Scribe beyond the headlines? Beyond the court trouble, and beyond the success.
Here are five of the biggest revelations viewers will learn if they tune in.
Scribe shares stories from his childhood. Photo / TVNZ
1. Fame was Scribe's downfall
Episodes chronicle Scribe’s journey growing up in Christchurch to becoming a critically acclaimed rapper with a level of fame he couldn’t comprehend.
He felt the pressure as his 2003 album The Crusade gained him fans, music awards and temptations. He was in his early 20s at the time, and Scribe is candid about how that level of attention affected him as a young man.
His cousins, musician Ladi6 and Oscar Kightley, explain from their perspective what fame did to him. His collaborator P-Money also shares an anecdote about being left to DJ alone when Scribe failed to turn up for a set.
“I’ve been to hell, I’ve f***ing been to jail. I’ve been on the edge of darkness,” Scribe shares.
As Kightley put it: “Fame is the downfall”.
2. His childhood was tough – but he's fought to mend his wounds
Scribe’s parents are central figures of the documentary and, along with his cousins, recount what it was like growing up as a child of Samoan descent in Christchurch.
He tells stories of a childhood frequented by “hidings”, drug deals, racism and trauma.
“I fought hard to be here,” Scribe puts it – explaining his mother Carol Luafutu did not plan to have him.
His father Fa’amoana Luafutu was a heroin dealer and was in jail when he was born.
Scribe says he grew up in a neighbourhood surrounded by addicts and gang members – and he tells the story of his friend being killed by a “skinhead” in a local park. He reflects on that moment as a catalyst for losing his innocence.
3. His drug addiction nearly killed him, but he got the help he needed
One of the most emotional moments of the documentary is when Scribe and his family recount the time he planned to take his own life.
“When I was a drug addict, I cut all my healthy relationships,” he says.
Plagued by drug addiction, his marriage dissolved, as did his respect in the industry.
It lead him down a dark path where he saw no other way to end his suffering.
His ex-wife Kylie Taylor recounts her efforts to help him overcome his addiction – and ultimately jail ended up being the unlikely turning point for Scribe.
Scribe explains his time at Moana House in Dunedin changed his life. Photo / TVNZ
4. By going back to his cultural roots, Scribe found himself
Scribe receives a traditional Samoan Tatau in one episode, and it’s a symbolic gesture that lets him reclaim his heritage.
Samoan culture flows into his new songs and by reconnecting to his ancestors, Scribe claims his authenticity.
5. Scribe may have fallen. But Malo Luafutu rose.
“I actually love myself, because I’m here,” Scribe explains in the final episode of the docu-series.
He time spent in Dunedin rehabilitation facility Moana House, the treatment he needed to get back to himself.
The now 42-year-old views music as his therapy, and he has fostered a new relationship with success and creativity.
He thinks his new album will be his last – and if the documentary is anything to go by, it may very well be his most honest and authentic.
Where to get help:
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youthline: 0800 376 633 or text 234 (available 24/7)
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (12pm to 11pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 or text 4202 (available 24/7)
• Anxiety helpline: 0800 269 4389 (0800 ANXIETY) (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
• Scribe: Return of the Crusader is streaming now on TVNZ OnDemand.