Island Mele


POSTED: Thursday, December 25, 2008

”;Big Teeze Presents 808 Jams
Volume 1: Island Vibin'”;

Various artists
(Landmark Entertainment)

; Terrence “;Big Teeze”; Hallums owns a place in local music history as a member of one of the two Hawaii recording acts that made one of the six major Billboard charts in the 1990s (He was part of the Hi-Town DJ's and hit Billboard's Hot 100 and R&B singles charts with “;Ding-A-Ling”; in 1998). Tai Okamura has similar credits as a member of the team that made local “;girl group”; Tenderoni the other act to hit a '90s Billboard chart (The girls had a track on the “;Soulfood”; soundtrack album in 1997).

This compilation, released on Okamura's record label, previews upcoming releases by a half-dozen artists. Teeze takes the lead on a hip-hop love song, “;Thug In Love,”; and appears as a backing artist elsewhere.

The “;vibin'”; is almost entirely Jawaiian. Reggae-style rhythms predominate even when the vocalist isn't affecting a faux-Jamaican accent. The lyrics are well-written, however, whether the subject is romantic (”;Next To My Baby”;) or so sexually explicit that it would vex Tipper Gore if she were still fretting about song lyrics.

Ikena Dupont endorses beer as the solution to all personal problems with the whimsical “;Let's Drink Beer,”; and Kalola Kauhane espouses an optimistic response to everything from unemployment to getting dumped by his girlfriend in “;It's Alright.”;

The musical format changes with the final song, a newly written, attention-grabbing hapa haole tribute to “;The Royal Hawaiian Hotel.”;


;» ”;Next To My Baby”;
;» ”;Let's Drink Beer”;
;» ”;The Royal Hawaiian Hotel”;

”;Send Love”;

Anita Hall
(Anita Hall)

; It seems at times that “;inspirational”; is used as a politically correct euphemism for “;Christian,”; perhaps as a way of selling music to people who aren't seeking sectarian messages. Listen closely to the lyrics of Anita Hall's beautiful new album, and while there are a few references to “;God”; and “;my Lord”; scattered through it, the primarily theme here is the power of love in and of itself rather than as the dividend of embracing a specific religious creed.

Hall's range and power as a vocalist won't come as a surprise for people who've heard her sing with Nueva Vida—last month at the Opera Ball, for example. Anyone hearing her for the first time will discover a multifaceted vocalist who can belt it out over a big modern rock arrangement or caress each note and nuance in an introspective ballad. And, although recording is an entirely different game from performing, her long-time fans will be delighted by her work here.

Credit too goes to producer/musicians Dave Tucciarone and Carlos Villalobos, and musician Michael Ruff; their contributions are similar enough to fit well together yet diverse enough to make each song distinct. It's easy, especially on an “;inspirational”; or “;praise”; album, for the musical arrangements to become almost an afterthought to “;the Word,”; but that's not a problem here.

Add the contributions of Dan Del Negro, Fiji, Shawn Pimental and “;Little Albert”; Maligmat, and Hall's album is “;love-ly,”; indeed.


;» ”;Love Is The Wave”;
;» ”;Send Love”;
;» ”;Amazing”;

”;Set Me Free”;

Na Koho
(Das Real Productions)

; Keyboardist/arranger Mark Yokoyama and composer Mark Puailihau are the one-two punch that powers this Jawaiian group. Puailihau wrote a majority of the songs; Yokoyama also handles the technical side of the recording process. The sound is basic, straight-forward Jawaiian and therefore perfect for Hawaii's self-styled “;island music”; radio stations.

The group's other keyboardist, Lenny Ragsdale, also writes. Ragsdale uses several contrasting rhythmic patterns and Shaggy-wannabe vocals in crafting a radio-friendly tribute to an “;Island Woman.”;

“;Red Eye”; and “;Never Let You Down”; cover other staple Jawaiian topics and performance styles, albeit with original compositions rather than formula remakes.

Puailihau adds musical diversity by stepping outside the Jawaiian format with three of his compositions. “;From Tonight”; is a romantic local pop song that sounds like a great theme for Valentine's Day 2009. With “;Set Me Free”; he juxtaposes Jamaican rhythms with Hawaiian phrases to create a bilingual Christian number. “;Piilani's Theme”; is a heartfelt requiem for someone's beloved mother.

This is apparently a first album, and that might explain a perplexing omission. Two people are shown on the cover over the phrase “;Forever in our hearts,”; but neither is identified in the liner notes.


;» ”;Ooh Girl”;
;» ”;Island Woman”;
;» ”;Through The Walls”;

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