The single peaked at No.6 in June 1994, although only Auckland’s MaiFm and the bNet stations played it at the time.
Later in the year it would also become a substantial indie hit in Australia – making it to No.2 on the important Triple J charts. In 1995 'In The Neighbourhood' also entered several European charts, including the Top 10 of the Italian dance chart.
The two teenagers from South Auckland met at the age of 13, at Hillary College in Otara – Brenda Makammeoafi and Hassanah Iroegbu, an immigrant from the USA, with mixed Nigerian, Native American and German blood.
By 1990 the two were called Sisters Underground and were performing in halls and dance parties in South and West Auckland as part of Andy Vann and Chris Bateup’s groundbreaking Voodoo Rhyme Syndicate. It was Vann who put the duo in touch with producer Alan Jansson. Jansson decided to record two tracks with them for his compilation of new South Auckland talent that would be named Proud – An Urban-Pacific Streetsoul Compilation.
Jansson spent months working and reworking one of these songs, taking the group’s raw, innocent street rhyme – innocent only until you worked out that a MAC-10 assault weapon was mentioned in the lyrics. Their music was essentially a capella before Jansson introduced instrumentation – adding a bed of hip-hop styled beats layered with acoustic guitars. It was a mix that instantly defined Pacific Soul.
The resulting single ‘In The Neighbourhood’ was revolutionary and is now seen as a landmark recording that empowered the South Auckland scene. As the single headed up the charts, it was aided by a stunning Greg Semu video that placed the girls firmly in the South Auckland environs they had emerged from. It was the most played video on New Zealand television that year.
A second track 'Ain't It True' (co-written with Mark de Clive-Lowe and Jansson) would also appear on Proud, and Sisters Underground then toured New Zealand as part of Phil Fuemana's Proud revue in 1994.
An invitation to tour Australia as part of the Big Day Out in January 1995 pushed the song onto that nation’s airwaves and they were offered a worldwide deal with Sony Music Australia, provided that Jansson produce their debut.
In 1995 Sisters Underground were named The Most Promising Group at the NZ Music Awards, although by that stage Iroegbu had already decided to return to the USA, this time to Hawaii, which meant the album for Sony Music was never recorded. Rumours of a possible deal with Motown came to nothing either.
Little more was heard of them until 2002 when TV2 decided to use ‘In The Neighbourhood’ for their theme song and commissioned Alan Jansson to remix it. Jansson instead brought both members back into the studio and he re-recorded the vocals. Iroegbu travelled from Atlanta, Georgia where she was pursuing a solo career.
The TV exposure raised the song’s profile once again and ‘In The Neighbourhood’ gained daytime radio rotate after it began to show up in listener research.
In 2001 ‘In The Neighbourhood’ was named No.58 in the APRA Top 100 New Zealand songs of all time at the APRA 75th Anniversary Silver Scrolls.
Sekous Fancuois in The New York Press described Sisters Underground this way: "Imagine Sarah (Vaughan) and Ella (Fitzgerald) opening up for a Bob Marley concert on a hillside in Jamaica. That's how you feel listening to these girls singing ... pure beauty"
Brenda Pua (nee Makammeoafi) now lives in Australia, while Hassanah Iroegbu is in Florida.
In October 2013, Sisters Underground performed together for the first time in more than a decade when they sang 'In The Neigbourhood' at the 2013 APRA Silver Scrolls, with a choir and orchestra.
In 2003 Hassanah supported De La Soul in New York City.
Hassanah was the guest vocalist on the track Runaway from Soane's 2004 album Tongan Chic.
In 2006 Hassanah's vocals featured on the track What You Talkin' Bout by Young Jezzy (US Def Jam).
Hassanah Iroegbu - raps
Brenda Makammeoafi - raps