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Justice Moon kicks off hip-hop as Pimpbot kicks up with horns

By John Berger

LAST UPDATED: 2:24 p.m. HST, Aug 5, 2011

'Summertime in Hawaii' / 'Jun-Ken-Po'

Justice Moon featuring Peni P. and Kalena Ku De Lima

Hip-hop scene veteran Justice Moon steps forward with two tracks that confirm real hip-hop is being performed and recorded here.

The songs are from his next album, "Da Gift & Da Curse," scheduled for release this winter. Both songs are available as free downloads at www.justicemoon. com and at his Facebook page.

"Summertime" is a soft, soothing and imaginative description of "three months of chilaxing" from one end of Oahu to the other.

Moon shows his harder side when he goes solo on "Jun-Ken-Po," an edgy and aggressive shout-out to local lifestyles that he spins off from the ever-popular rock-papers-scissors game. "Make that paper get scissored and stoned," he commands, continuing on with timely references to island locales and celebrities.

» "Summertime In Hawaii"


(Pass Out)

Pimpbot's self-titled third album marks the group's 10th anniversary and with it the introduction of a new lineup and a new sound.

Pimpbot is now officially a quintet: Fernando Pacheco (vocals, trombone, percussion), Tim Coleman (guitars, backing vocals), Rylan Yee (bass), Eric Lagrimas (drums) and Nic Ramos (trumpet, vocals). However, with Ray Farias playing tenor sax on 11 of the 12 songs, the group is heard here as a de facto sextet with a solid three-man horn section.

The transition from being a 20-something to a 30-something is a recurring theme. The guys set the mood with "Meet You at the Bar," a tough-love song about getting older and dealing with frustration, unfulfilled dreams and reality. Alcohol is also the key that frees a hard-working everyman from his "cage" — a rare but welcome event described in "Tiger." The good old days of youth when carefree guys could hang out in bars "til 4 a.m. getting sloppy" are mourned in "Used to Have Fun."

Other songs are more enigmatic. Does "Zombie Fasi" blame the late mayor for the problems that Oahu now faces, or does it mourn his absence and wish he could be brought back for another term?

Pimpbot goes "unplugged" with the final song, "Beer and Homies." It's arranged and produced to sound like a bunch of semidrunk guys sitting around drinking and singing, and shows that the group still has a sense of humor. Watch it become a popular audience participation number at their shows.

» "Meet You At The Bar"

'Black Square'

Black Square
(Black Square Music)

Multifaceted singer/guitarist/songwriter Josh 86 plays straight rock with the 86 List and also records as a solo artist. As a member of Black Square, he straddles several genres — rock, punk, reggae and ska among them. A three-man horn section gives the group plenty of power on the ska end of the repertoire. Mono-monickered Taylor (bass) and Brian "LBK" Kim (drums) are a solid foundation as the rhythm section.

Sociopolitical subjects have always been a part of the group's music. That tradition is maintained with "Rise Up" calling on the new generation "to take responsibility for a better nation." Social issues are also in play with "Red Tide" when the group speaks out in support of "equal rights for all people." Same-sex marriage isn't mentioned by name, but most listeners will assume that's the issue "(expletive) homophobes" oppose.

Black Square slows the pace down to meditative levels with "Soundhouse" as the group members get space to do their thing as reggae musicians. Kim and Taylor are the foundation of the extended arrangement. "In the Day," bright and poppy, speaks for everyone who can't wait for the workday to be over and night to come.

The closing song, "Black Square," strips things down to traditional hard-core rock and a message of defiance: "You know it's just a black square/You know we really don't care!"

» "In The Day"

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