For many music artists from small towns, it can be tough trying to gain exposure. But Johari L, a singer/songwriter/producer from Grand Rapids, MI, sees this as an opportunity rather than a barrier. “As of now, there's no one really making a name for our city in music. From what I’ve heard, most of the musicians here are too focused on the trends that surface in mainstream. It’s the perfect place for me to really stand out with my unique sound. Hopefully I can inspire others to do the same,” said Johari.
Johari L has been cranking out music from his bedroom/home studio for many years. He and I met online through my cousin Kaileia back in 2011. At the time, we were both amatuer teenagers just trying to make music. Although we might’ve not been as skilled just yet, we collaborated on a track together and I remember specifically playing the song over and over again to hear Johari singing his verse. We lost contact for a few years, but recently reconnected as both of us have progressed artistically and professionally since then.
Formerly known as L12 for eleven years, Johari recently changed his official stage name to Johari L. He felt that the name change was necessary in showing his growth and maturity as an artist and as a young man. Johari’s music journey began even before his birth, and only developed further and further through his childhood and youth. “I was born around music. My mom has always told me stories about how she'd play her favorite albums aloud close to her stomach while she was pregnant. I'd always kick while she sung. My mom is an amazing singer. Her and I always sung together, especially our favorite cuts from Prince albums,” said Johari.
Johari’s experience and exposure to music has allowed him to experiment with all genres, most notably R&B, Soul, Pop, and Rap. Johari stated, “I grew up listening to Prince, TLC, Missy Elliott, Jon B. and any other well known artists from the 80's - 90's.” We can see heavy R&B and Soul influence in the artist’s songs “Press Play” and “Come and Get Me,” both which are classic love-making styled tunes. Recently, however, Johari L has leaked his newest self-produced & self-written, Hip Hop and almost poetically inspired track - “Waves,” which just might be circulating in email inboxes around the U.S. As a businessman and artist, Johari chose to release “Waves” in September 2016 as an exclusive download which can only be received directly via email from the artist himself. He is more focused in long-term growth than mere plays, and focuses on generating long-lasting relationships with his small but growing loyal fan base.
Johari L has a new name and developed persona, to go along with his new audio and visual material that will be coming very soon. He is consistently working in his home studio and doing all he can to improve all aspects of his music career, from studio equipment to networking to videos and promotions. “I’d like people to know that when it comes to me and my music, it’ll be an experience for them. When you listen front to back without skipping a track, you'll see a story line. I love cohesive projects. It's what turns music into art,” said Johari. For more information on Johari L, visit his Youtube channel and/or follow him on Facebook.
Who remembers the good old ‘MySpace’ days and even as far back as Xanga or AsianAvenue? Then along came YouTube, founded in 2005, and the world opened up for kids all around the world that wanted to share their silly skits, rants, vlogs, and music. To me, growing up as an Asian-American, I never really saw ‘cool’ Asian characters on TV or in music videos. Asian girls in particular were usually portrayed as submissive and easy sexual targets. Asian guys usually played the push-over or ‘geeky’ characters. Of course, those roles are still shown in the media today. But I think tools like YouTube and other social media devices collectively opened up new platforms for kids like me to be heard, and has allowed us to show our various characters - Timothy Delaghetto, Dumbfoundead, AJ Rafael, J.R. Aquino, NigaHiga etc.
With that said, one day I was on ‘YouNow,’ a live broadcasting web application that allows users to run their own live video broadcasts...when I met a young lady that goes by the name Ca$aNoVa. She saw that I rapped, we conversed about music, and even had a dual ‘jam session’ through YouNow, while many viewers watched. (The internet can be an amazing place sometimes.) It’s been about a year since then and Ca$aNoVa and I have kept in touch via social media. Ca$aNoVa is an aspiring singer/rapper from the island of Guam; she is currently back on Guam after living in Arizona briefly. As a fan of all musical genres, Ca$aNoVa brings heavy elements of pop and techno, along with hip hop/rap influences into her songs. Her lyrics are deep and personal, but also share stories of love and other topics. This week’s “Track Tuesday” segment features Ca$aNoVa’s newest track “Rewind.”
Produced by FlipTunesMusic, “Rewind” is a love song based on a true experience that happened to Ca$aNoVa. Pop and R&B are the primary elements on the track, but features rap-styled verses by Ca$aNoVa and Rezzo. “The song talks about meeting someone for the first time and not knowing when you will see them again, so you want to take it back to the moment you met,” said Ca$aNoVa. Ca$aNoVa is still at the very beginning of her musical journey, but this artist has already accomplished so much personally, having recently competed in the 2016 Mission Underground Live Cypher draft. Mission Underground is a Team Backpack event, that was held in Brooklyn, New York.
It’s amazing how the internet and music enables artists to connect regardless of physical locations. It’s also cool to see my fellow Asian people like myself and Ca$aNoVa get recognition for our talent and swagger, which we should’ve been getting all along. Lol. Check out more of Ca$aNoVa’s music on her Soundcloud.
We live in a day and age where attention is everything- we want followers, we want fans, and we want “friends.” We follow what “trending.” But I think that true artists are able to connect with fans regardless of the hype (or lack of) behind them. At the end of the day, an emcee who stays authentic to him/herself will always trump any gimmicks, tricks, or trends. Everyday/Hearses” by Cha Great and Paradice Sabbie shows these two upcoming artists in their purest forms- having fun and sharing stories through music.
Cha Great and Paradice Sabbie dropped their “Everyday/Hearses” project in early Spring. With visuals by Idea Films featuring shots from various locations around Oahu, the music video has generated more than 2000 views on Youtube. Cha and Sabbie do their thing over the classic Bahamadia (Uknowhowwedu) instrumental and bring 90s Hip Hop vibes to 2016. “Sabbie and I met on Oahu. Were both heavily influenced by old school New York styled Hip Hop and decided to make the song together,” said Cha Great. “This is an everyday type of track for me. We all go through ups and down but the purpose is to just put out positive energy no matter what,” said Sabbie. The video also features “Hearses,” a bar for bar verse by the 19-year old rapper.
Hopefully we can expect more from the duo. Both are their individual artists in their own right. Cha Great is based in the Bay Area and Paradice Sabbie continues to make music, network, and book shows around Oahu.
See more of Paradice Sabbie
See more of Cha Great
OTDHipHop is an independent music blog and network, curated by Rapper/Blogger Jehzan Exclusive.