On The Record: Tripple Los
BY KALANI WILHELM / Special to the Star-Advertiser
Hawaii hip-hop artist Tripple Los is cut from a different cloth. Call him a complete contrast from the standard “throw your H’s up” MC, he reps the Aloha State with a unique perspective all his own.
Woven together by a mainland upbringing and binded ever so tightly by local-style values, the Ewa Beach-based MC has always viewed the local landscape of beats and rhymes with an ultra-keen sense of awareness.
Making personal trials and struggles the focal point of your songs isn’t a new phenomena by any stretch, but the way Los does, it is. Complete with the backdrop of island living, the lane his rhymes ride in is feel-good rap.
What makes his sound unique is Los’ delivery — a cool, confident southern drawl derived from his youth in Fayeteville, North Carolina. His sharp, street flow cadence meshes local living perfectly with southern hospitality.
“I’m an artist so I will make you feel my pain or feel my happiness, either way you got to feel me,” he said. “For real. I ain’t just talking. I got (stuff) to say from the good to the bad. Pretty much all I know or experience and live is what I’m speaking on. You can label my music however you view it, but I will say I make poetic rap music.”
Los’ first impressions in Hawaii hip-hop took place in 2006 as a member of MC/producer collaborative Gotthos, a grimy hip-hop contingent regarded by some as the best street sound of its time. Fast forward to 2012 and his album, “Reflections,” was nominated for a Na Hoku Hanahano Award for Hip-Hop Album of the Year.
“I love doing feel good, personal, messed up in the head music,” said Los. “It’s what I’m feeling at the time or how that rhythm makes me feel. When I hit the studio I don’t never have nothing planned.”
With short pit stops in Puerto Rico, Washington, Miami and Pennsylvania before moving to Oahu, the military brat credited his formative years in Fayeteville (hometown of J. Cole) for changing him from a boy into a man, but moving to Hawaii completed him.
Since moving to Hawaii, Los has met a host of cousins, aunties and uncles he never knew existed. Life took on a stronger meaning. He calls it the ultimate blessing.
“Growing up in in ‘Da Ville,’ I really didn’t know the meaning of aloha,” he said. “It’s all about what’s cracking right there in the town at the time. Coming to the islands and really feeling that aloha, that way of life from the food to the people — back home, I was that Puerto Rican, Hawaiian kid. I never knew about the traditions and customs my people were about.
“I was really uneducated but I’m up to speed now, ya dig?”
IT’S HIS ambitions of getting his music out to people “from the North Pole to the South Pole” that drive his Pinky and Thumb Entertainment imprint.
“The shaka always was a staple of Hawaii, so I figure what better way to represent mines to the world,” said Los. “Our goal is to just make good music, 1000 percent real, all the way, from the roota to the toota, ya dig?”
Production to marketing are all done in-house. When he got started, Los produced 2,500 copies of his first mixtape while in Miami. He returned to South Beach recently to oversee production of 10,000 copies of his latest album, “Off the Rock.”
“Just so we could give it out for free,” said Los, noting the album is also available online via iTunes and Beatport. “It’s just something that needed to be done, you know. Give back to the island as much as we can. I mean without the people me and my label wouldn’t be nothing.”
Los called the seven-track mixture of hip-hop, reggae and dub a polished product worth listening to.
“You can bump this from start to finish,” he said. “It was made for the radio, the streets, the clubs and the trunks!
“Every track on this album is me sharing my life with the listener and still keeping a heavy island influence on every track.”
OUTSIDE OF a small band of hip-hop supporters and friends, Los is relatively unknown outside local circles. He said becoming more of a household name is beyond his control, but help from outside sources wouldn’t hurt.
“In my opinion, I feel the radio could rep hip-hop a whole lot better,” he said. “But you know what, we all could be doing something better in our lives also. If there’s any artist on the island that’s making good music, then they should put them on.”
With aloha spirit and Polynesian pride in abundance, if Los has what it takes to make it in rap, he insists it will eventually come to fruition, no matter what obstacles stand in the way.
“I honestly get more spins on Kauai and Maui a little more than Oahu, but its all good, I’ll take what I can get,” he said. “You know, I feel like if a person is in a position to break a record, whether it be a DJ from the radio to the clubs or just an employee there, they should throw it out and let the people decide.
“I know a lot of stations, (it’s) politics and all, and if you don’t know, you should know it’s who you know that gets you in and what you know that keeps you in. And that’s 100 percent real.”
Kalani Wilhelm covers nightlife and music for the Pulse. Contact him via email or follow him on Twitter.