March 10, 2010

...it wasn't easy leaving the 808 this time...

last time i was out in hawaii it was with the almighty blue scholars camp on their island-hopping oof! tour. i had one of the most memorable experiences of 2009 with those folks and it really helped me put a solid imprint on the island. during the tour we visited oahu, kona and maui. we were there for a good two weeks, but there was plenty of time to hit the beach, jump off rocks and build bonfires. while i was out there i performed for tad nakumura's song for ourselves hawaii premiere and i met folks at the university of hawaii's law school and more specifically, professor rod labrador of the ethnic studies department. it was a brief encounter, but his name stood out. about a month off the island, i got an email from professor rod who was planning the pamantasan week at uh for 2010 and he was interested in bringing me out. how could i say no? professor rod came through! christine, his wife and one of the main folks at uh's women's center helped us get the tickets and we were all set to go back. i can't thank them enough.

dj phatrick, kat and myself hopped a plane on march 3rd, honolulu bound. as soon as we got in, we hit the ground running. zippy's first (which would become our everyday meal source), then off to meet up with folks and establish the mandatory "no fun, all business" plan that i set for the team -- kat and phat made fun of me for it, but they rode with me the whole way. unfortunately, my plan didn't work... we hit the ward center to see how the promo for the weekend's show was going over at the in4mation store and as soon as we saw james, mike and jun, we were at home and "business" was out the door! i met jun on the last trip and found out that he was this world-class big wave surfer who now owned the in4mation brand.


i'm used to clothing company "owners" barking orders at their folks and burying their heads in their blackberry, and jun is the complete opposite. the last time i was here he had paint all over his clothes and hands because he was opening a new store in pearl ridge and painting the fuckin' place himself! on this trip, he had paint all over his clothes and hands because he was painting the upstairs office at ward center. he sat and chatted with us about everything from kids, a little bit of business and local scrappers on the island. not once did he touch his phone or rush us out, even though he needed to take off to handle stuff. beside the fact that the brand puts out amazing gear, i would fuck with in4mation on the strength of knowing that the people behind the brand are genuine family-oriented folks! after jun bounced, james and mike kicked it with us at the store. i was hoping to cop the vans chukka x in4mation collab shoe that just came out, but it was sold out. BUT, james managed to find a pair of size 10 denim half-cab x in4mation collab shoes in the back! score! big up the homie james and jun for really making the team feel at home. also, big up the rest of my in4mant fam: zen, ryan and keith! look out for an in4mation x bambu project!

that night we met up with bone and eli of the got rice radio show at ktuh. while there, rocky rivera and team joined us to do some promo for her show (march 5th) and our show (march 6th). it was a fun time!

day 2 started with professor rod scooping us up and walking us over to the university for my "talk" about art and activism with the ethnic studies students and whoever else would listen. i spoke to the students and professors about my experience in music and how i went from someone struggling with my identity into the artist i am today. i spoke of art being used as a tool to raise self awareness, but stressed to them that raising awareness by itself does not create concrete change -- i pushed the students to do some searching that would hopefully lead them to organizing. they were very attentive and had great questions and comments for me.


afterward, we hit the studio to record the slow down 808 remix with local emcees, big mox and k-luv. let's just say, they killed it. the homie osna, who is a wild boy on records, but is actually a really mellow guy in person engineered the session and even hopped on it do the intro -- the dude is amazing with that. we knocked that joint out in a few hours and we were out the door for a dinner meeting with honozooloo, carol, eric, ara, sonny, chris and the rest of the fam. again, we were met by the entire rocky rivera entourage for dinner. the food was okay -- sorry aaron, i ordered the "oriental" salad and it sucked. everyone skated off to party for the night, but i wanted to go back to the hotel and send some emails off.


day 3 shot us back over to the campus for an afternoon performance. rocky rivera and irie eyez met us there and rocked their set first. unfortunately, rocky couldn't do her whole set because she needed to rest her voice for her show later that night. i did my set, which was cut off by the school because we were loud and interrupting meetings in nearby classrooms. sorry. the students were great and really helped keep the energy up despite the fact that they refused to stand up. just kidding, ya'll -- you guys were dope. after the set, we kicked it with professor rod, little miles (my newest homeboy), christine and some students before shooting over to a panel discussion with the ethnic studies students.

the panel consisted of kat (manager), phat (dj) and me. we spoke about our work as organizers and educators outside of the music business, then we opened the floor to questions. really good questions. one in particular was from a mom, who's 16-year old son was a fan and was also sitting in the room somewhere (what's up, matthew!), asking me about the use of profanity in hip hop and more specifically my music. tough question -- hopefully i answered it well, tita!

after the panel, we hit the town for a second before having to get ready to catch rocky rivera's show at fresh cafe! i regretfully missed sylen's set, but made it in time to catch hopie spitshard's set. she did a good job of holding it down and getting the crowd involved with no dj -- a difficult task for any emcee. after a brief wait, rocky rivera hit the stage to an eager audience. dj roza, irie eyez and rocky put together a crazy set, complete with acapella intro, drill instructor skit and dance routine! the whole baywaii fam was there, including elayne (sf), my cousin david and arlene (sf x nyc)! other than the sound issues and the whole bar talking through the whole set (which whom rocky decided to dis during her set), the show definitely solidified the strength of her fanbase in hawaii. she'll be back soon.


everyone wanted to go party afterward, but if you know me, i ain't with that scene, so i dipped. prep for day 4.

day 4 started out with a trip up to diamond head for the music video shoot of the slow down 808 remix. mic-3 (my visayan homeboy and another dope up-and-comer on the 808 hip hop scene), styles, bone, b-boy dan and the rest of the clan came out for the shoot. it was brief, but very productive. who would've known that big mox could direct too! stay tuned for the release of that video.

after the video, we split up and i had some time to explore the island. met up with kat, phat, steph and elsie at weimeia bay to enjoy some water and sun, before breaking out for solo time on the island. saw a waterfull in a giant hole -- which i jumped in briefly. i could've died. then drove around the island before heading back to prepare myself for the show later that night.

next door. man, y'all did me up nicely! the venue was packed, despite the 21+ door restriction. it felt good to see all those people there. an ocean of brown folks vibing out with me. the openers did an amazing job of getting the crowd hype for me -- the prolific unknowns (big mox and k-luv -- dj jah was out due to an emergency; hope everything is good with you, homie) went on first and the precedence was set -- this group will be the next, i promise! crowd was up!!! creed chameleon, another local emcee killing it right now on the blogs and on the local scene, went on next. creed and his partner, dj packo actually went on that oof! tour with us the last time i was out here and we built a good relationship and recorded a really dope song with prometheus brown... so, i knew he was going to do some damage; but, i honestly didn't expect to see how much he's grown as a performer as much as he did. awesome set!

my turn. not much i can say beside except that it was humbling. to know that the locals had my back was all i wanted. i'll be back soon.


we hit the airport the next morning and flew back to smog city and my son, kahlil. thanks for everything, 808... til' next time: cheee-hu!

1 comment:

_ehJAY said...

ey man this aj one of the guys that met you down at the university! haha was with my boy pat(dude rockin that beatrock tee) tried to get a hold of you but didn't get back to us! ahh its all g! we wanted to come by your 21+ concert but was underaged!!! XD