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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, June 30, 2002

'Boat Days' renders classic Hawai'i songs

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Editor

Two kinds of island music are in the limelight, with a solid hip-hop/reggae offering by a homegrown soloist and a cruise through hapa-haole seas by a veteran vocal duo.

Musical passport
"Boat Days/Tropic Nights"

  • Artists: Leon and Malia.
  • Label: Island Heritage (no catalog number).
  • Genre: Hapa-haole and contemporary island music.
  • Distinguishing notes: Leon Siu and Malia Elliott, formerly married to each other, continue to be a tuneful twosome. They are veteran singers-composers who have interpreted the island lifestyle through music; here, alone and together, they sing of boat days (more then, than now, in spirit), and put their sweet and folk-inspired styles to a number of hapa-haole classics ("Beyond the Reef," "Hawaiian Wedding Song," "Blue Hawai'i," "Kaimana Hila," "Aloha 'Oe").
  • The outlook: The orientation is more toward a visitor marketplace than resident, so song selection is somewhat formulaic. Leon and Malia are far better than the material they're sharing here. Nonetheless, Leon, still prolific as a composer, scores points for a pair of new tunes, "Island Music" and "Dance Upon the Water," which are passports to a Hawai'i of another time; Malia's vocal support brings back rich snapshots of their early years together as a club act.
  • Our take: If you've wondered about Leon and Malia's whereabouts, this CD is a quick update.
"Beyond the Reef" by Leon & Malia. Audio sample available in mp3 and RealAudio formats.

Chief's in charge
"Chief Ragga"

  • Artist: Chief Ragga (aka Jamin Chief Ragga Wong).
  • Label: Hobo House on the Hill (HHJRCD 0028).
  • Genre: Hip-hop, reggae, rhythm 'n' blues.
  • Distinguishing notes: He's dispensed with "Jamin" in his billing, but the Chief remains in the beat-and-jive groove, delivering a powerhouse slate of raps and rhythms catering to dance hall dudes and dolls. Formerly with Ho'aikane, Ragga clearly has learned from his experience and exposure with the group, smartly enlisting the kokua of his local pals like Oshen ("Kilia"), B.E.T. ("Ooh Ah"), and Ilona Irvine ("Your Recipe" and several other originals by Ragga).
  • The outlook: Foot-tapping arrangements, superior production values make this one a logical fave among DJs, while the CD should have an enduring life at house parties.
  • Our take: A very promising, auspicious solo debut; Ragga sounds like the genuine Jamaican article, though he's homegrown.
"Your Recipe" by Chief Ragga. Audio sample available in mp3 and RealAudio formats.