Revisiting the importance and influence of black music in Hawaii


When I first started blogging in 2010, it was sparked by the surprisingly funky, soulful sounds heard on DJ Muro's Hawaiian Breaks mixtape.

I'd never heard anything from Hawaii quite like it before, save for the track "A Million Stars" by Macky Feary Band. In fact, until I knew any better, I could've guessed that Mike Lundy was black — his opening tracks, "Nothing Like Dat Funky Funky Music" and "The Rhythm Of Life", were filled with the spirit and sounds of black American music. That is, R&B, jazz, soul, and funk.

It was a theme I wrote about more often in the early days of the blog, going so far as to call this funky, soulful stuff "Hawaiian black music." I was even tapped for an interview with a Brazilian publication called coletivoACTION, in which the author asked me "How the black music scene start in Hawaii? We all know the reach and impact of the genre in the music, but in Hawaii, specially for us outside USA, is very unknown. Apparently, for the distance and the influence of the Japanese and Polynesian culture, it’s fantastic how these rhythms penetrate through the island."

You can read the rest of that interview here.

Although I don't use that phrase often anymore (and I also make a more conscious effort to distinguish "Hawaiian music" and "music from Hawaii"), it still remains true: so much of the music we blog about and reissue through is rooted in black music.

Even the name itself, Aloha Got Soul, is a form of what you might call black english ("I got soul, you got soul... we got soul"). (Side note, I would love to blog more about the name Aloha Got Soul and what it communicates, as it pertains to black music but as more generally speaking in regards to the label's mission.)

Today, I'd like to reiterate and revisit the importance and influence that black music has had on Aloha Got Soul. Exploring such a hyper-niche — black music and similar sounds from Hawaii — and sharing it with the world was a new concept in 2010 (at least, outside of Japan where collectors like Toshi Nakada had already made great progress in shining light on out-of-print recordings). And because of its niche focus, AGS quickly earned the attention of collectors and music lovers around the globe who, like me, were happily surprised to hear these kinds of sounds coming from the Hawaiian Islands.

Without black music, Aloha Got Soul wouldn't exist.

Supporting the Black Lives Matter movement

There's a number of ways to support BLM right now. Even if you can't join a peaceful protest or donate monetarily, there are still ways to show support. I've found that these resources are excellent in learning more:

As it relates to the label, we're donating 100% of our label's proceeds from Bandcamp sales this weekend to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

If you're not yet familiar, Bandcamp puts artists and independent labels first. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, they decided to waive their revenue share fees on all purchases so that artists could receive more money in a time of great need. Bandcamp is once again doing this — Bandcamp's fees will be waived on Friday, June 5, 2020.

We hope to make the most of this opportunity, which is why we're donating 100% of our label's proceeds from Bandcamp sales this weekend to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, a national organization that has a long history of effectively enacting racial justice and change through litigation, advocacy, and public education. The artists' share of Bandcamp proceeds will still go to the artists.

We’re grateful for music companies like Bandcamp, who have been leading the way in supporting what matters most to artists in today's world.

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