Star-Bulletin Features

Friday, June 29, 2001

Baba B's latest disc is simply "Babalicious."

Baba B in a
new groove

Album review and sound clips

By John Berger

Working with new people often demands some creative compromises. For Baba B, a romantic guy who enjoys writing and recording love songs, teaming up with the Hobo House on the Hill Crew -- Roni "Hobo Kid" Yurong, Ronnie Esteban and Lawrence Yurong -- took some major adjustment.

The Hobo guys aren't anti-love, but they have a keen ear for what's likely to sell. A love song Baba had written for his girlfriend, Misty, ended up being rewritten and recorded as a song about "going out, getting drunk and hanging with the boys -- a party animal song."

Roni and Ronnie did the arrangements, drum programming and keyboards. Keo, another member of the Hobo House ohana, joined Roni and Lawrence in co-writing some of the songs and working out the vocal arrangements. If the song that ended up as "Where's All My Braddahs" becomes a hit, Baba will gladly give Hobo House the credit and write another song for Misty.

Many of Baba B's songs are inspired by his girlfriend Misty.

Baba hit big in 1996 with his debut album, "Big Boy in Love," and enjoyed similar success with his second, "Local Boy," in 1999. The Fat Katz Productions artist officially celebrated the release of his third album, "Babalicious," at Kapono's in the Aloha Tower Marketplace last night.

"I think the public will be shocked when they hear this album because I was known for the mellow, easy-going music and love songs, and this album has only one ballad, and the music style is different," Baba said. "We have some pop stuff in there, and a lot of reggae that we have in there is a mix of pop and reggae."

The creative exchange also involved an inspired pop/hip-hop makeover of another Baba original, "More Than Just a Friend." He had resisted recording it for years.

"I felt that the song wasn't gonna do good because at the time the music wasn't right (for the market). On the air was more ballads and straight reggae, (but) now the music is changing to more hip-hop and reggae. When I wrote it with Kaipo Bellafueille, it was really local-style, but I took it to Hobo House, and they took it to another level."

Writing a song with Fiji was another of the memorable creative experiences that became part of bringing "Babalicious" to completion. Now it's up to the public and Hawaii's "island music" radio stations.

"Music is changing daily, and I think local music is kind of moving up the 'scape. Certain groups set a trend for music -- Mana'o Company, Ka'au Crater Boys, Pure Heart. When we came out with 'Big Boy in Love,' that set a style, and I think this album is something different.

"My producers said when this album hits the streets, the other bands are going to have to step it up a notch. That's the fun part about music. When somebody comes out with a good album, you have other record labels competing with you, and that helps the industry to move up."


Baba B
(Fat Katz Productions FKP 7005)

Album hits a fresh note
with Jawaiian-style reggae

Review by John Berger

First impressions aren't always accurate. The first impression here is that Baba and "Babalicious" are hitting Hawaii with familiar commercial reggae rhythms and a parade of familiar high-profile guests that includes Fiji, B.E.T., Gambian "Chief Ragga" Wong and Bruddah Walta Aipolani. In short, with songs that are guaranteed to be "island music" hits.

Listen past all that and another vista emerges. Baba is taking on new musical objectives. Like Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo'ole before him, Baba is moving beyond the limits of Jawaiian-style reggae. By the time Baba signs off with "More Than Just a Friend," he has proved his potential as a mainstream pop-chart artist. The song can and should be heard by folks who aren't into island music. It's a fresh sound for Baba that fits him perfectly.

Credit the Hobo House crew with the electronic instrumental arrangements that fuel his musical journey. The most immediate candidate for breakthrough hit status is "1, 2, 3," a Baba original that owes nothing to the old Len Berry and Miami Sound Machine hits of that name. Baba's fresh new tune has a strong, catchy beat and stands as a perfect piece of modern local pop music.

The Hobo House guys are clearly moving cautiously and don't want go faster than Hawaii's Jawaiian music scene can handle. Several songs have more of a traditional Jawaiian sound. But even those are heavier and more polished than the norm.

Mpeg Audio Clips:
Bullet Talking Blues
Bullet 1, 2, 3
Bullet More than Just a Friend
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info

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