Aloha! Hope all is well with all of you. I just want to say thank you again to everyone who follows my music journey whether it be through social media or my music itself, and especially if you're a fan of OTD Hip Hop. Well, I generally spent the entire past week celebrating my 25th birthday! Shouts out to all my fellow Virgos. Anyways, instead of talking a whole bunch about the lessons I've learned up until this point and going all deep with you folks, I always wanted to do some sort of album review or lyrical analysis of my music so I figure I do one today. Lol. So let's get to it!
Island Waves & City Haze is my latest music project. It is a 8-track EP/Mixtape that showcases my growth as an artist. All of the tracks were written and recorded by me, with most of the vocals off the project mixed by my good friend GIM$. Prior to 2016, I never had my vocals mixed or mastered and the sonic quality of my music has always been a weakness of mine. While GIM$ is an aspiring sound engineer, he is a Hip Hop artist as well and has a naturally good ear for what sounds good. It was a big learning experience for me, especially trying to make sure that each track sounded its best, at least with the resources I have. The cover art features a photo of me overlooking Honolulu's skyline, shot by my other good friend & photographer Mary Villoso. Lastly, my homie Young Dedicated Proper (YDP) added her own flare to the cover art.
Inspiration for this EP came from my own self-realization that if I wanted people to start taking me seriously as an artist, I had to get more serious about my product and overall strategy for pushing my music. I started writing lyrics to various beats in late 2015, during bus and Uber rides to and from school/work. Around the time of birthday last year, my car broke down and my fiance and I were without our own means of transportation for about 4 months. I always wanted to do some sort of tribute project to Honolulu, which is the city I was born and raised in. I always wanted to show the world that Honolulu might be just a small city on an island, but there is a huge urban culture and Hip Hop is really the music of Hawaii's young people. I think what's funny about this project in particular is that although it was mentally draining always having to catch the bus, or catch rides from Ubers or other friends/family, I was pretty much forced to immerse myself into the ins and outs of Honolulu. Basically, not having a car allowed me to really observe and absorb my city and that led to inspiration for Island Waves & City Haze. Below is a personal track by track analysis of the EP! Check it out!
Track 1: "Wild" (Prod. by Zdot & Krunchie)
This was actually the last song that I decided to add to this project. I originally wrote the first verse to a totally different beat. But after seeing Lady Leshur MURK this beat, not to mention Futuristic's remix, I was inspired to "flex" on this beat as well. The essence of "Wild" is basically me introducing myself. "Who Am I? Lil' shortie with a NICE TAN, Hawaii sun shine you can't BITE THAT. Pack a bowl, light it up, that's a NIGHT CAP!" I tried to make it a bit more catchy by adding my own hook to it. It doesn't have the most plays off this project, but it's actually one of my personal favorite tracks of mine.
Track 2: "Ambitionz" (Prod. by DJ CVince)
I've always been a big fan of 2Pac, and his songs were probably the first initial inspirations for me to start writing my own poetry and raps. This beat is one of my all-time favorite instrumentals, with credits to DJ CVince. The lyrical content of "Ambitionz" basically takes the listener on a journey inside my mind, touching on topics like college tuition, marijuana, religion, etc. "College tuition 100,000 in debt. A slave to the death and I made my own bed..."
Track 3: "Patience" (Prod. by Blunted Beatz)
"Patience" is the most popularly played song off the project. It is one of the first original songs that I've written, with an original beat and hook. Produced by Blunted Beatz, "Patience" brings classic Hip Hop vibes, told through my own lens. It has also gotten some blog and radio attention. "Wish I didn't have a heart so I could slang like you. Selling bricks like you, call em bitch like you. But I rather serenade like a nice haiku. December nights in Honolulu I just roll right through. Break it down, roll it up, we can get high too. But yall don't really know everything I do."
Track 4: "Sqwuuad" (Prod. by Danny EB Beats)
"Sqwuuad" is my personal favorite track from this project. It is my favorite track to perform live because of its bold beat and party-vibe sound. I also really like how hard I went with the bars and punchlines on this one. Inspired by the summer time and all the vices that come with being a young, stressed out college student just trying to "make it," the lyrics touch a lot on what I'm passionate about and the strong message I have for young people. "I know some homies wanna get lifted. Light them trees up like we on Christmas. Wanna roll and smoke and stop trippin, cuz that 9 to 5 is straight ignant! But you, never had a job never had a kid. Mommy Daddy always had your back never had to pick. If you don't work for none, you won't get none. If you really want some shit, then go get some!"
Track 5: "HNL 1AM" (Prod. by Metro Boomin)
1AM is a song originally by Rapper YG, produced by Metro Boomin. Since I digged the beat so much, I put my own finesse on it and started writing. I like the bass line of the beat and the lyrics came fairly natural to me. Lyrically, I wanted to paint a different picture of Hawaii. Most people that are not from here don't realize how different Hawaii is for the local people, versus the tourists and outsiders that only come here for work or vacation. Hawaii is the most expensive state in the U.S., the local economy is fucked up, and working-class people work tirelessly to provide for their families and homes here. HNL 1AM is a real depiction of what I experience on a daily basis. "Stupid lucid marijuana thoughts, walking through these streets, of my downtown campus, homes went abandoned. Babies in the streets got some drug addict parents. It's the price of paradise, show you what my city's like. Turn away from the city lights, cuz where I'm from just aint that bright."
Track 6: "Zero Gravity" (Prod. by Freddie Joachim)
"Zero Gravity" was a last minute addition to this project. Originally, I only wanted my newest tracks on Island Waves & City Haze. But I added "Zero Gravity" into the list because it is an internal reflection of who I am as a person. I wrote the lyrics to this track back in 2015 when I got back from Team Backpack's Mission Underground event in Los Angeles. Overall, I was super inspired from that experience and did a lot of self-reflecting both as an artist and as a person. Next to "Patience," I've gotten good reviews on "Zero Gravity," and I guess people like it when I do calm-sounding songs. I also feel like people listen to the lyrics more when the beat and vibe is calm. "Zero gravity can't feel my feet. My eyes awake but my head's asleep. Zero gravity or 10 feet deep, wherever I be at, Lord I'm thanks to be."
Track 7: "Roll Another" (Prod. by CXLEB)
Roll Another is a remix to a song of the same name, by this Canadian-Filipino Rapper named Pryde (FKA D-Pryde). I'm a fan of his music and movement, and recorded my own remix to this song last summer, also inspired from my experience at Team Backpack's Mission Underground event in Los Angeles. It was created to speak on my own inspiration and experience as an aspiring artist, while learning how to stay true to my roots and where I've been. Although the overall track is about having fun and smoking weed, I would say that it is also one of my deepest songs, especially in the last verse where I basically switch from rapping to poetry. "Crazy now even my friends is like, homie you right! You better take it from the bottom all the way to the top. And show em that Hawaii kids can make it up out this rock. Don't need to talk about passion, just put it to action. Cuz practice and patience gets your farther than talent."
Track 8: "50 Barz" (Prod. by Thai Beats)
As I mentioned earlier in this article, inspiration for the whole EP started around the time my car broke down last year, and me and my fiance were without a vehicle for about 4 months. During that time, my girlfriend had to sleep at her sister's house most of the week because it was closer to her job. I would also sleep over frequently and it was just a stressful time. However, I started smoking cannabis and it helped me relax. One early morning after using my fiance's sister's car to drop her off to work, I took a couple hits from my pipe and started listening to beats on my phone. I wrote "50 Barz" in one sitting while getting high as fuck in the bathroom in my sister-in-law's apartment. It was the first track I released in 2016 and the first track to be fully mixed and edited by GIM$. The lyrical content touches on topics regarding my femininity as a Hip Hop artist, my love for music, fake friends, my experience in college classes, etc. "Walk in to the class like I'm passing it. Well, every other class except Calculus. But what the hell I really need math for? Just wanna count all my cash fuck as class score."
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