(Honolulu, HAWAI'I)--Change and recognition. Those are the driving forces behind what’s shaping up to be the event of the year for island music artists across the United States—the FobbNation Music Awards ceremony presented by Island Swagg Entertainment this weekend in San Francisco.
“It’s time for change, it’s time for recognition within our community,” said FobbNation CEO Pati Eneliko from California, “To not only witness change, but to support change.”
Nine artists from Hawai’i have been nominated for an FMA which this year presents awards in 18 different categories, Saturday, Sept. 14, at the Palace of Fine Arts, one of the City by the Bay’s hottest tourist attractions. The awards have expanded to include recognition of artistry in graphics design and tattooing.
Nominees from Hawai’i (in various categories) are: Fiji, Nesian Nine, Siaosi, Kaipo Kapua, Hot Rain, Maoli, Urban Nesian Graphics’ Lainee Fagafa, Triple Los and Pou Jackson. Artists are nominated by fans. There are five nominees in each category and the one who garnered the most votes— which were cast online earlier in the year – wins the FMA, a decorative tanoa, or kava bowl.
First time FMA nominee Pou Jackson, Hawai’i’s “Roots Rap Originator” (as he sings) from Kalihi, has picked up a nomination in the Favorite Hip-Hop Rap Solo Artist category.
Months ago, it was a 5 a.m. call from a friend that alerted Pou about the FMA nomination.
“He told me check the Facebook, you’re nominated for this. I found it and sure enough I saw my name was the first in the category,” the father of four told tautalatala.com during a late August interview at Zippy’s Waiau. “It was cool. It’s cool to just to get recognized. I thought that was really cool. I’m really downplaying it – I was happy, I was like oh my God!”
Pou is up against five other artists—all based in the U.S. mainland: Samoan Irok; Drew Deezy; Yung LB; Blu3 Diamond and Young Xyphe. Chula Vista, Calif.-based Tatau Brand Apparel, a nominee in the Graphics Designer of the Year category is sponsoring the Favorite Hip-Hop Rap Solo Artist award.
Born in American Samoa, Pou was a toddler when he moved to Hawai’i with his mom, a native of Fagasa. They lived in Kuhio Park Terrace and Mayor Wrights Housing. He also had family living in Kamehameha IV Housing, where he spent a lot of time at “Konnah Block” (as in Corner Block) – a stairwell on the Kam IV premesis where Pou and company would hang out. It is also the location where his “All Blind” video was shot.
“That’s where my sound was born,” he said, noting the rivalry that existed then between KPT and Kam IV Housings stemmed from colors. “It wasn’t important to me…that’s the hood life, but I don’t care about colors…nah, it’s about the music.”
When Pou was in middle school, the untimely passing of his mother would result in his moving to Ft. Campbell, Ky. to live with his sister, who was in the military. Pou graduated from Ft. Campbell High School in 1996. Soon after graduation, he moved back to O’ahu.
“When I was young I was a real MC and I didn’t make family music. My rap style was more attack mode…raw hip hop is not friendly to the Polynesian ear. Everybody I just wanted to eat. It was basically like the same come up for everyone when they were young. As the years went by my style matured as I matured especially when I started having kids. Yeah, there was a fine line I didn’t want to cross anymore. Before I didn’t give a f--k. Kaimi ga e f--k the world. But now it’s us against the world. I have a team, a family to take care of.”
Around 1999, Pou had found a style he was comfortable with – roots rap – a fun-loving style of rap where rhymes are laid over feel good, reggae beats – a sound less likely to offend islanders. And his crew stuck to it, helping to build up the genre on the local scene. More and more, “party rap”, Pou explains, is moving toward the direction of roots rap.
After making “tons of demos and mix tapes” since high school, Pou said his first “legitimate” album titled “Introducing Pou Jackson,” was released last year. Eighty percent of the album was produced by Tielu, aka Big T. “Block Party” and “All Blind”, popular tracks off the 2012 album were produced by Tielu.
Along with the nomination, Pou has accepted an invitation to perform at the FMAs.
“That makes it even better. It’s no longer a vacation. It’s a business trip now,” he said. “[B]efore we were going just ‘cause we got nominated. I just wanted to sit down and enjoy the show. Now we’re performing.”
He joins an fabulous line-up of performers: Common Kings, Spawnbreezie, Finn the Groovah, Kingi & Pistallion, Devotion, Opium Dream, Sua Sisters and Lole & Vika of Local Culture. There will also be spoken word poetry with Ben Falealili, "The Flowin Samoan."
The internet has a played a huge role in getting Pou’s music out there with www.poujackson.com garnering nothing but positive feedback from listeners. His YouTube music videos have been viewed thousands and thousands of times.
“I love the love, man,” he says thanking his fans. “For me and my team, my family, my people, it’s always about the music. I’m not selling nobody, nothing. No image, no nothing. It’s strictly music. We have no image to sell. I’m not a politician. I’m not trying to like heal the world, man. It’s all about the music.”
Two fundraisers have gleaned enough money to fund their trip to San Francisco.
Pou Jackson and crew may perform his all-new remix of “Yah Li Gammz” – a cool, fun do-over of an old track, now available for free online. It was released Sunday. He has yet to decide if he will sing the new track on-stage at the FMAs – or not. Physical copies of his newest mix tape that includes “Yah Li Gammz” will be available for free in San Francisco.
“We were just having an internal struggle…with Mose and Tielu…on what song to perform. We only get to do one. So everybody throwing in their opinion but I told them it doesn’t matter what song we perform,” says Pou. “Even though we nominated, like honestly, we not big in Cali. Our music will get heard by people who have never listened to our music.”
Eneliko says preparations for the FMA Awards Ceremony “are going a lot smoother than last year.”
“Primarily because the support from our Polynesian community has been a blessing this year!,” he exclaimed. “We are thankful as all contributions big or small are desperately needed – and definitely appreciated. No words can amount to the gratitude we have to those whom have stepped up in all ways to make this a success, thus far.”
Pou and his team of vocalists: Mose, Teena Maree and Arriee leave O’ahu Thursday, Sept. 12 for California. They return to Honolulu, Sept. 16.
“The majority have never heard of us, have never seen or heard the kind of music we do…so this is a first impression no matter what,” said Pou. “It’s all about first impressions so all I wanna do is blow their minds!”
See our entertainment section for more information on the Island Swagg Entertainment Presents the Second Annual FobbNation Music Awards.
Learn more about Pou Jackson and listen to his music at www.poujackson.com.
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