Big Is Better
True to their band’s name, Papa T and J.D. of B.E.T. are indeed living BIG as they prepare to play at the Birthday Bash this weekend
By Darlene Dela Cruz
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Five minutes with Timothy “Papa T” Troxell and Joe “J.D.” Daniels Jr. is all it takes to see that these guys love to live big.
With both men standing nearly 6 feet tall, Papa T and J.D. - known more widely as the music group B.E.T., which is short for Big Every Time - are imposing figures to behold. Their bold energy charges a room; their grill-gilded grins stretch for miles, and their hearty laughs are infectious.
And as J.D. and Papa T bring their spunk and reggae/hip-hop stylings to KCCN FM100’s Birthday Bash on July 27, fans of the Big Every Time boys can expect a show similarly larger-than-life.
“Birthday Bash is always exciting,” J.D. says. “There’s always a huge crowd. When the night hits, it’s electric.”
This year marks another notch in B.E.T.‘s Birthday Bash belt, with J.D. and Papa T joining island superstars such as Natural Vibrations and Fiji for Hawaii’s quintessential two-day local music celebration at the Waikiki Shell.
Now seasoned veterans of the Birthday Bash circuit - Papa T laughs at the estimated 10 shows they’ve already done - B.E.T. ironically cites the spark that ignited their musical dreams as the very concert that they’ll once again be playing.
“All the bands that start off know that it’s the biggest show,” J.D. says. “We were in the crowds for our first couple of Birthday Bashes. For me, seeing someone play live made me realize that that’s what I want to do.”
That passion for live music is the thread that sews the story of B.E.T’s path to the Bash together. In the early 1990s, Papa T started as a singer for the group Tropical Hawaiians. He later moved on to serve music duties with Diane and the Boys, just as J.D. came to Hawaii from Samoa. J.D.‘s mom pitched her son’s rhythm & blues-inspired singing talents to Diane, and Diane passed the note about J.D’s musical chops on to Papa T. Fate brought J.D. and Papa T to the same club one night, where a band played Sugarhill Gang’s hip-hop classic Rapper’s Delight.J.D.and Papa T began putting on a lyrical showcase, rocking to the beat without a care. In that moment, B.E.T was formed; today, they still can’t stop - and won’t stop.
“We just began flowing, and then we started hanging out,” J.D. says. “Fourteen years later, we’re still doing it.”
Papa T and J.D.‘s common bond over hip-hop may have been what cemented B.E.T. together, but dissecting their musical influences reveals that a diverse array of genres shaped B.E.T’s signature sound. Papa T brings his musical diet of Parliament Funkadelic and Funk Authority to the table, evident in B.E.T’s synthesizer lines and funk-tinged bass hooks. The Rastafarian twang in Papa T’s oft-imitated rapping style stems from his love of Bob Marley. B.E.T.‘s socially-conscious lyrics - heard on songs like Crying for Peace - can be credited to Papa T’s ties to the punk scene, having spent time in California around reggae-rock’s Bad Brains and personally befriending the cynical pop-punk Descendents.
“I was influenced by the neighborhoods I lived in - I hung out with the rebels,” says Papa T, who spent five years in Los Angeles and currently lives in Nanakuli.“I like punk’s anti-establishment (ideas). I try to inject some dancehall with the cutting edge of punk and a touch of oldies.”
While Papa T’s influences bring the funk, reggae and grit to B.E.T, J.D’s musical bases form the foundation for the group’s beats and slower jams. A devotee of hiphop, J.D. grew up on gangsta rap, with the likes of Tupac and Dr. Dre being the king markers of that scene. J.D.‘s trademark melodic breaks and velvet-smooth lyrical romancing - most notably felt on B.E.T.‘s latest single,Hook it Up 2 - can be traced to his love for classic R&B artists like Luther Vandross, the O’Jays and the Stylistics.
“Papa T brought me up to speed on reggae,” J.D. says of the group’s musical chemistry. In turn, Papa T says, “(J.D.) rekindled the R&B in me.”
B.E.T. has tuned its musical formula to the sound of success. Papa T and J.D. recently released their fifth album, Big Every Time, on South Pac Entertainment - “It’s one of our best ones,” J.D. says - and have stretched their fanbase with tours on the Mainland and Guam. They’ve become the poster children for go! air flights, winning the support of go!‘s CEO Jonathan Ornstein after a fateful
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