A Medley Of Stocking Stuffers

Melissa Moniz
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Friday - December 09, 2009
| Del.icio.us
Album No. 4 for RSP

As Santa and his reindeer friends gear up for their illustrious flight, folks here in Hawaii are ringing in the holiday season with music - everything from Christmas classics to Island jams to R&B beats.

For those on the nice list, here’s a stocking stuffer that comes from the Big Island. Ryan Hiraoka of Rubbah Slippah Productions takes it up a notch with the release of his third full-length album Before My Last Breath. It’s what he calls his most mature album.

“I really tried to step up the production of it,” says Hiraoka, who began working on the album after his uncle passed away. “Before My Last Breath is all the things I would want on an album if this was my last.”

With all original tracks written and arranged by Hiraoka, the album tells his story. It’s a philosophy that he feels is important for an artist, adding, “The message is honest when it’s performed by the person who wrote it.”

R&B with Island flair, the album presents a more solemn feel, which is why Hiraoka says that for his next album he plans happier lyrics.

Gentry’s Christmas release

Keeping true to his Big Island roots and the song that started it all for Hiraoka, Big Island Ladies, he included the song Still the Same, a track that talks about his island home.

“I really like If I, which is the last song, and Fighting for Love - those are the two meaningful ones for me,” says Hiraoka. “Fighting for Love breaks down that if you’re going to fight for something, it should be about love.”

Since jumping on the scene in 2006 with his first album, Big Island Music, Hiraoka also released RSP Crew Vol. 1 the following year and his second solo effort Hawaii & Beyond.

In the works for Hiraoka is RSP Crew Vol. 2, which he hopes will release early next year.

Copies of all four albums are available for purchase through Hiraoka’s production Web site at http://www.rubbahslippahproductions.com. As written on his latest CD, “Buy Um No Burn Um” ...

With a voice that’s as lovely as she is, former Miss Hawaii Candes Meijide Gentry celebrates the release of her third album, Christmas Will Find Us Wherever We Are. The album is packed with a mix of all-time classics, originals and Island favorites.

“Song selection for the album was a challenge because the holidays are a wonderful time of year that evoke so many feelings, memories and emotions,” says Gentry. “I hope my CD will remind its listeners that ‘it’s not the things you do at Christmas time, but the Christmas things you do all year through’- lyrics from The Secret of Christmas.”

‘Bring Back The Days’ CD

The album features 12 tracks, including three original songs - Christmas Will Find Us Wherever We Are, Aloha The Spirit of Christmas and A Christmas Love Song - that were gifted to Gentry by close friends. Also lending their talents to the album are local artists Jeff Peterson, Larry Paxton, Joey Caldarone and Pierre Grill.

Friendship and talent also merged as Gentry and Caldarone perform a perfectly executed rendition of Baby It’s Cold Outside on the album.

“It was also very important to highlight what makes Christmas in the Islands special, which is why I decided to include some R. Alex Anderson songs: Santa’s Hula, The Merriest Hawaiian Christmas and Mele Kalikimaka.”

And she couldn’t do a Christmas album without including her very favorite tune, Santa Baby, saying, “I absolutely love this song because of its catchy tune and cutsie lyrics.”

For more on the album, visit www.candescd.com ...

When I interviewed the guys of Rebel Souljahz (Mike Maglinti, Will Su’a, Bubba Hodges and Kulani Cozo) at their manager Brett Ortone‘s house last year just before their debut album released, I could tell that they knew they had something that was going to earn their place in Hawaii’s music scene.

Excited about their release and eager to show the Islands what they had brewing, Bubba told me, “There were others looking at us, telling us, ‘You guys not going be nothing’ and our drive was telling them, ‘Brah, watch one day I going smile at you and we going be at the top.’ That was our fuel for keep going.”

Well, they made good on their word - actually, they did better. Rebel Souljahz took home Reggae Album of the Year for the CD Nothing To Hide at this year’s Na Hoku Hanohano Awards.

And more than that they’ve been an inspiration for others to reach for their goals. Last month, Bubba was recognized by Adult Friends for Youth as one of five exceptional young men who persevered through difficult times (see Honolulu Pa’ina on page 44).

Songs from their new album Bring Back The Days have already infiltrated the radio stations, as did many hits from their first CD, as well as a collaboration with Amy Hanaialii, Everybody Plays The Fool.

It offers up 13 all-original songs that the group says pushes past the notion that they are just a Jawaiian party band. Working with their producer Imua Garza resulted in an album that is a powerful and varied musical statement.

Their fuller sound probably has to do with their now eight-member group. From its original four, Rebel Souljahz has since added Kahale Morales, Art Viloria, Nainoa Nuuhiwa and Sherwin Debrum.

It’s been an exciting road for a group, who just a year ago said, “Who would have thought that a bunch of local braddahs from the country would be making an album?”

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