One of the most unique things about the archipelago state of Hawaii is that each island has its own vibe and personality. This uniqueness lightly stems from some of Hawaii's history. At one point, each of the 8 Hawaiian islands were considered their own island nations. It wasn't until King Kamehameha I (also known as Kamehameha “The Great”) united all of the islands into one nation that the islands became collectively known as Hawaii. (It is speculated that King Kamehameha I did this around the time Napoleon was on his conquest.) Fast-forward through western colonization, American statehood, and overall shifts in local culture, and Hawaii became an even more one of a kind place to grow up, let alone to experience Hip Hop. Hawaii’s local music can trace its roots to ancient Hawaiian music (the hula, chants, etc) as well as “Kanikapila,” an impromptu style of music known for its “jam sessions,” usually conducted with a lead guitar, ukulele, and a mixed group of vocals. In a more modern setting, “Jawaiian” music is very popular amongst locals, as it is a mix of Kanikapila and Jamaican Reggae, with the latter heavily known as an elder kin of Hip Hop/Rap. Nowadays, Hip Hop is at the forefront of Hawaii’s radio stations and commercial music.
This week's featured artist goes by the name Killa B-Rex aka "B-Rex." His interest in rapping started when he was a teenager and got more serious about it when he graduated in 2013 from Hilo High School on the Big Island of Hawaii. Unlike Honolulu, where life is highly metropolitan, Hilo has kept its small-town attitude, both in its local hospitality and relaxed pace of life. Like many small-town local boys, B-Rex spent a few years of his post-high school days surfing, smoking, and drinking. He went through a tough hiatus from music and his fight career due to a concussion from a fight on the island of Maui. He felt like he hit a major brick wall in his life when he realized how much he was "just cruising" and wasn't making any music or training for fights. Consequently, he decided to move to Las Vegas to try something new, and to pursue music without distractions. Since his move to LV, B-Rex released his first mixtape "Mixed Emotions" (M.E) in May 2015 and formed the Owl Nest Production company, along with his peers Alec (audio/production), Lavish (art), and Ben (photography). Alec and B-Rex both intern at Camel Hump Studios in LV and Dawson recently received a Bachelor's Degree in Sound Engineering.
At the moment, B-Rex is working hard to build his resume in regards to music and managing his company. A lot of the tracks on his last mixtape focused on his mixed emotions as he went through issues that many young men experience- moving away from home, changing relationships with family, friends, and females, and the overall transition into adulthood. His upcoming mixtape "Higher Level" will be dropping in a few months, with a number of collaborative projects and other business-related ventures happening concurrently as well. B-Rex states that, "I want to make more music that will inspire my younger homies to take their lives to the next higher level and to keep pursuing their dreams higher and higher."
Currently, B-Rex doesn't plan on moving back home anytime soon and his hard work can definitely be heard on his tracks and seen on his videos on his YouTube channel. His track "Run" showcases his passion for telling his story and shares a message of how sometimes it takes little steps to eventually be able to run towards your dreams. He proudly credits his island upbringing but states that "Hawaii is a great place to grow up and eventually raise a family and retire, but the middle part of life (where I'm at now), should be exploration- traveling, chasing your dreams, etc." Check out B-Rex's various music, videos, and social media! Look out for this Big Island boy living as a young business man in Las Vegas! I will be writing about more about the rest of his “Owl Nest Production” crew members soon!
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OTDHipHop is an independent music blog and network, curated by Rapper/Blogger Jehzan Exclusive.