Island Mele: Hanano‘eau celebrates reggae, I.A. salutes ‘Zubland,’ Pepper shares life message
Reviews of the latest releases by artists from Hawaii, or with Hawaii ties, by Star-Advertiser music critic John Berger.
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“ALL WE KNOW IS REGGAE”
Ka‘imi Hanano‘eau (HiRiZ LLC)
The title can be taken in different ways, but when island rock musician Ka‘imi Hanano‘eau sings it over an explosive reggae-rock arrangement there’s no question he’s celebrating the Afro-Caribbean music that has been Hawaii’s favorite style of non-Hawaiian music for more than a quarter-century.
Hanano‘eau’s lyrics connect the music to its Rastafari religious origins. He also references the Rastafari doctrine that equates the position of the Afro-Jamaicans whose ancestors were brought to the Caribbean as slaves with the enslaved Jews of ancient Babylon.
Most of all though, this is a song about the fun of dancing to the “riddim” and finding time to “bun up the sensi” (smoke marijuana). When Hanano‘eau announces “the best reggae riddim is the one pon’ your heart” he is sharing Rastafari wisdom.
I.A. featuring Lea Love (FLYGHT808)
Residents of the Waianae coast have been proclaiming their love for the “West Side” at least since the days of Baba B in the 1990s. Island hip hop veteran I.A. adds another proud song to the canon with his newly-written download-only single about a popular local hangout — “The sun rises on the east, but you know where it sets!” Guest vocalist Lea Love adds a seductive invitation to join her there.
Count I.A. and “Zubland” as front-runners in at least one category at next year’s Na Hoku Hanohano Awards.
Pepper featuring Stick Figure (LAW)
Yes, it’s been 20 years since Pepper — Kaleo Wassman (vocals/guitar). Bret Bollinger (bass/vocals) and Yesod Williams (drums/vocals) — left the Big Island in a successful search for fame and fortune in Southern California, but Hawaii can still claim them as having started here. This newly released download-only single offers a glimpse of the music they’re playing on their current tour — which, alas, does not include a stop in Hawaii.
The trio teams up with Stick Figure, founder and leader of his namesake reggae/dub group, to create a somnambulant “deep dub” musical platform that contains an opaque story about an apparently ill-advised trip into a desert. There’s also a lesson shared that’s worth repeating — “If you want love, you give love, that’s all you really need.”