Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Hawaiian Magnetic B-Boys

Sticking with interesting, indie 90's 12"s, today's record is Walkman Classic by a Hawaiian group called Invisible Inc. For a minute there, Hawaii seemed to have a pretty lively hip-hop scene, mostly by joining forced with indie artists and labels in Cali. In this case, they're being put out by IPO Wax, primarily known for being Tony da Skitzo's label.

My personal copy is a test pressing (that's an actual handwritten label, bit a creative design choice), but there's a proper, retail pressing with the same track-listing. They call it an EP, but filled with just three songs and their instrumentals, I'd be more inclined to classify it as a 12" single. But either way, it's pretty good.

This dropped in 1999, and it's actually their second release. It's also pretty much their last release, at least with as a unit. Akira 8, Ha'o, Mr. Rios and Syze-1 seemed to break up after this record, though  some of them did go on to work and cameo on other Hawaiian projects around that time. That was all pretty short lived for most of them, however Akira 8 changed his name to Emirc and went solo for a couple years. Then he changed his name again, to Tassho Pearce (his real name all along), and continues to work this day, including a new song with Kid Cudi and No I.D. released under a month ago.

So it's a pretty long and twisty career that traces back to this more traditional, 90s 12".  I almost said "boom bap;" but you know, it's more of that indie backpackery kinda vibe that's almost as influenced by Project Blowed as it by their devotion to traditional New York B-Boyism. It's not too artsy, though. Slick flows and  intelligent lyrics over very traditional beats with just enough interesting instrumentation and scratches on the hook to make it a little more compelling than the norm.

I wrote recently that I tend to prefer talented journeymen hip-hop artists over the showy larger-than-life personalities that usually capture the larger audiences' attentions; and that's what we find here. It's smart, a very effective head-nodder; but also very forgettable.  I can never remember the loops and sounds of this record until I put it back on the turntable for another revisit. And I've revisited it a bunch of times now over the years. But it really holds up every time, which is more than I can say for a lot of the 12"s I collected back in the 90s. It;s a pleasant surprise that keeps paying off.

And who knows, if Tassho's star rises high enough, maybe he can bring the gang back for a fun reunion track. I'd download that for nothin'.*

*What? That's all new music asks of us anymore, isn't it?

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