COURTESY JAMES BENDER
Who woulda known Dear Ol' Dad James Bender was once "Jimmy Da Geek," a familiar voice on Hawaii airwaves? Bender, pictured with sons Tyler, 6, and Luke, 3, returns from Arizona for "Bomb Birthday 7" with a new parody for local residents.
Jimmy Da Geek keeps da laughs rolling in
There's something familiar about the voice behind those parodies you've heard on 102.7 Da Bomb in recent weeks.
'Bomb Birthday 7'
With performances by Collie Buddz, Che'Nelle and Jimmy Da Geek
Place: Pipeline Cafe
Time: 8 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $20; 18 and over
"Talk Like a Pinoy" and "Local Girls" borrow beats from Down's "Lean Like a Cholo" and Souljah Boy's "Crank That (Souljah Boy)," respectively, replacing vapid lyrics with witty commentary on Filipino culture and self-professed love for local women.
It's almost a case of deja vu for James "Jimmy Da Geek" Bender, who created the songs in his Mesa, Ariz., home studio. In the late '80s, he did the same thing in Hawaii as one of the founding members of the 3 Local Boyz.
Now married with two young sons, Bender returns to performing for the first time in a decade, with almost eight years passed since he left Honolulu's radio airwaves for the mainland. He'll debut a new parody at "Bomb Birthday 7" alongside performances by national recording artists Collie Buddz and Che'Nelle.
Bender arrived in Honolulu in the summer of 1985, just as he was about to start his junior year at Kalaheo High School. The son of a Marine, he also spent time in California, Michigan and Missouri after his birth in Virginia.
Upon graduation in 1987, his parents urged him to go to college and get a job, so Bender enrolled in night classes at a community college.
As fate would have it, the building he worked in also housed studios for a number of local radio stations. KIKI-FM (known as I-94 at the time) jocks would come into the store he worked in, and Bender quickly made friends with some of the staff.
"I would tell my parents I was going to class ... and would just drive right down to the radio station," he said. "Next thing you know, I got all F's!"
But he was getting an education in the radio business, first helping with voices on I-94's morning show before getting a job as a control board operator at KIKI-AM. Soon after, another friend got the opportunity to do nights on I-94 and asked Bender if he wanted to come along and hang out.
With Alan "Da Cruzah" Oda at the controls and Grant "Lanai Boy" Tabura also in the studio, the three began to gel during a nightly countdown of top songs on the station.
"It was called 'Yo I-94 Raps,'" Bender said. "When (Alan) was doing his hot eight-at-eight, we would just do little raps over the song intros.
"Then at Brown Bags (to Stardom) that year, all of us decided to do a rap performance."
Record producer Matt Young was at that high school talent show, and quickly approached Oda about recording a full-length album. "Radio Will Never Be the Same" was released in 1989, and the 3 Local Boyz were born.
COURTESY JAMES BENDER
James "Jimmy Da Geek" Bender and Grant "Lanai Boy" Tabura pose at Blaisdell Arena during their heyday as members of the 3 Local Boyz.
Starting with "Me So Hungry," Bender went on to co-write a number of local hits on the group's sophomore album, "Rasta Revolution."
Although Oda had left to serve as programming director at I-94, the Boyz didn't miss a beat with the addition of Ryan "Hawaiian Ryan" Matsumoto. Singles like "Rice Rice Baybee" and "Killa Wiffa" made fun of popular music, while "Tiny Boobies" spoofed a well-known hit by the legendary Don Ho.
Bender's involvement in the group would end in 1993, when he left I-94 to work at KCCN before joining the on-air staff at KQMQ. While there, he would work with Leo Baldwin and DJ Kutmaster Spaz to produce his first solo album, "So So Haolefied," in 1996.
After a short stint back at KCCN, Bender moved to 104.3 XME in 1999 and stayed there until his departure from the islands in 2003. These days, he works full time as an entertainment writer at Westwood One's Metro Networks.
"Ever since I moved up here, I built this little home studio and did parodies and remixes, things of that nature, just to keep the creative juices flowing," he said. "I'd sent things to stations up here and back in Hawaii, but never heard anything."
That was until Da Bomb's programming director, Ryan Sean Kawamoto, got in touch. He asked if Bender could do a parody with a Filipino twist.
"Thank God for the Internet," said Bender. "I can't just spout (Tagalog) off the top of my head. ... I had to look that up!"
This weekend's performance will also bring the debut of "Put Li Hing," an examination of Hawaii's fascination with li hing mui powder. Bender borrowed the beat from Fat Joe's "Make It Rain" and drew inspiration from trips with his Hawaii-born wife to buy omiyage.
"Every time we go back to Hawaii, my wife has to spend like $100 at the crack seed store," he said. "I'll just be listening to a song, and the lyrics just pop into my head and I'll start going with it.
"It's been 10 or 11 years since I've performed ... so I'm definitely excited to get back on stage. And Spaz is going to be my DJ, so it'll be just like the good old days."