Everybody loves Hawaii. Few know better than Blue Scholars’ MC Geo, having grown up in Honolulu in the 1980’s and returning with the Scholars’ dj/ producer Sabzi last year to rock a sold-out homecoming show at Next Door. Love lingered in the air despite all the changes happening outside the sweaty, crackin’ club. “Development” has paved over lush lands and displaced longtime locals, the US military continues its stranglehold on the islands, and tourism runs tings (into the ground). By and by, the people maintain, and Blue Scholars bore witness to life beyond the beaches and resorts.
Oof! is the story about the Hawaii that you don’t see on TV: fish-fry BBQs in Waianae, native Hawaiians struggling for sovereignty, house parties on the Leeward side, uncles playing mah-jong on a lanai in Waipahu, a thriving independent hip-hop and fashion scene, on-air ciphers at KTUH, a room full of folks vibin’ to a mean reggae song, young poets spitting fire into mics, grubbing on poke in the Foodland parking lot, whole neighborhoods leveled by the ice epidemic.
Many “mainlanders” go to Hawaii to get away. Blue Scholars went to get it in. They returned again six months later with a New Year’s Eve show and a handful of new tracks inspired by the first visit, soon to be released in the form of their most collaborative multi-media project, yet: OoF! — a collaboration with painter, vinyl toy & skate deck artist, Angry Woebots who made a collaborative painting to go along with the song “HI-808” which will be turned into a limited edition print and t-shirt; one of Hawaii’s premier photographers and historian of all things dope Aaron Yoshino (Honozooloo / 5 to Life) who’s photos have documented Hawaii’s subculture for several years and who is creating the cover art of the EP; the influential Hawaii based surf & skate boutique brand IN4MATION where Angry Woebot’s painting was made; and the island’s premiere video production crew, Kai Media, who directed and shot the music video for the track Hi-808, shot in and around Oahu (edited by Zia Mohajerjasbi). All these groups have come together to create this project which will be sold as a complete package online using Topsin Media widgets at Blue Scholars’ and each project partners’ websites, with the EP being available separately at the usual digital retailers.
Anchoring the project is the OOF! EP featuring six new Blue Scholars tracks. The minimalism of the intro song “Bananas” yields to the familiar complex lyricism and production of “HI-808,” which documents the differences between the Hawaii Geo grew up in and the one he would later return to, laid over an 808-drum-dominated Sabzi masterpiece. “Hello” is a playful take on the escapism while “New People” is a truly original effort that almost treads dance music territory. “Cruz” is the duo’s ode to island life over a Jawaiian-reggae influenced beat. In addition to these tracks, all five instrumental versions will also be included, encouraging other artists to make their own songs with these riddims.
Along with its digital release, the OOF! EP will also be pressed into a limited-edition run of 808 CDs which will be available exclusively from the Blue Scholars’ and other project partners’ websites and at the IN4MATION Ward location in Honolulu, HI. The whole project is part of Blue Scholars’ artist owned label MassLine, underwritten through a strategic marketing partnership with Seattle’s independent coffee company Caffè Vita, distributed digitally by Tunecore, and marketed in collaboration with Duck Down Records.
Everybody loves Hawaii. But does it love you back? Get that OOF! EP and find out.