On The Record: Rich ‘Caniva’ Armodia
BY KALANI WILHELM / Special to the Star Advertiser
Long before Rich “Caniva” Armodia had musical aspirations, acts of kindness that came due to family hardships as a youth have influenced many of the elements that give his music direction and purpose.
“Everyone has struggles in their own way. Coming from Waianae you are surrounded by struggle, (from) chronics to the homeless. I have that at the forefront of my mind when writing my music,” he said.
He uses the struggle, both personal and in his neighborhood, for inspiration.
“I (also) draw inspiration from my own experiences (and) from people that have an opinion yet no clue about the streets and the game,” he said.
Growing up on the west side, Armodia always loved hip-hop but got into the culture as an emcee when he moved to New Jersey. Listening to DMX, The L.O.X and Canibus led to writing rhymes and competing in rap battles. Soon after returning to Waianae six years later, Armodia felt it was necessary to merge the essence of island reggae with aspects of hip-hop done his way.
Such influences are revealed on his latest project, “Island Fever,” released online last week. The 11-track offering (available for free download at caniva.bandcamp.com) features J. Boog, Fiji and Common Kings, and the reggae roots feel is undeniable. The elements of hip-hop, as defined by the masses, may be a little bit harder to find but inspire much of the album’s gritty, street content.
“When people ask me to describe my music and sound I tell them it’s Polynesian hip-hop mixed with island reggae,” said Armodia, who credits Polynesian artists like Drew Deezy, Savage and Monsta Ganjah for paving the way. “Between hip-hop heads, along with reggae peeps, the general consensus is my island sound fuses with my rap flow. That’s what I’m most proud of. “
While part of Armodia’s mission is to broaden the definition of island music to include hip-hop influences, no matter how prominent or subtle, he already considers “Island Fever” to be a success.
Armodia, who has four siblings, credits the financial assistance his family received from the Queen Liliuokalani Children’s Center in Waianae for teaching him valuable lessons about remaining positive despite adversity. The social service agency helped his family purchase clothes, school supplies and equipment he needed to participate in local sports leagues.
“Like many other young families on the Leeward Coast, it was often a struggle to have seven mouths to feed,” he said. “I will always remember and appreciate their generosity that experience taught me to appreciate what I have and not to take things for granted.”
“Of course, anything worth having is worth working hard for. The struggle makes me hungrier and in turn I grind that much harder,” he said.
Inspiration for a song, much like acts of kindness, can come when you least expect it. Armodia said it comes down to how much you want it.
“I could be driving in Waianae or even in Waikiki and see something that will inspire me to jot a few bars down. The creative process never ends, music is always on my mind. I live it and I breathe it.”
Kalani Wilhelm covers nightlife and music for the Pulse. Contact him via email or follow him on Twitter.