Island Mele

By John Berger,
Special to the Star-Bulletin

Friday, March 27, 1998

Funky twist to
Hawaiian traditions

Native Grooves: Frank Kawaikapuokalani Hewett and Freddy Von Paraz (Modern Ancient Production)

KUMU hula Frank Hewett and Freddy Von Paraz boldly set the Hawaiian language in a radically different context with this impressive and creative project. There has never been Hawaiian-language music like this.

Hewett chants, sings and narrates tales of Pele and Hi'iaka in Hawaiian and English. Von Paraz envelopes them in a pastiche of contemporary funk, house and acid jazz arrangements. Hewett's participation ensures cultural authenticity; Von Paraz's inspired use of sampling and sequencing reaffirms his place as one of the most imaginative producers in local music. "Native Grooves" is a musical milestone.

Ding-A-Ling: Hi-Town DJs (Restless), CD single and 12-inch vinyl single

THE list of local rap acts who don't sound like posers is short: SKI, Sudden Rush and Fiji. This catchy and irresistibly danceable "bass" anthem puts the Hi-Town DJs atop the list (Waianae rapper Teeze, DJ Jay P, and Chyna Doll are local. Miami rapper/producer Derrick Rahming completes the team).

Powerful rhythms and suggestive but G-rated lyrics give "Ding-A-Ling" the same instant impact as "C'Mon N' Ride It (The Train)," the Hot 100 hit by the QuadCity DJs that thrust "bass" music into pop consciousness in 1996. "Ding-A-Ling" is already on Billboard's R&R Singles chart.

The disc offers two versions; the vinyl has five, including an a capella version. As the DJs say: "This is the bomb @"

Aloha Kekahi I Kekahi: Kekapa Lee (Kapa Ku'iki)

MOST local Christian artists keep their recordings secreted within their own small cliques. Kekapa Lee is a welcome exception. Many of these beautiful Hawaiian standards are English hymns translated into Hawaiian over a century ago. Others are originals by local Hawaiian composers or Hawaiian "adaptations" such as "Hawai'i Aloha." Minimal use of synthesizers adds to the beauty of the arrangements.

Producer Trav Duro Jr. provides translations for some. The annotation explains the significance of the others.

See Record Reviews for some of John Berger's past reviews.
See Aloha Worldwide for locals living away.

John Berger, who has covered the local
entertainment scene since 1972, writes reviews of recordings
produced by Hawaii artists. See the Star-Bulletin's Home Zone
section on Fridays for the latest reviews.

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