Review: Dumbfoundead and Shing02
REVIEW BY KALANI WILHELM / Special to the Star-Advertiser
Hip-hop fans in Honolulu are accustomed to seeing one solid headliner at smaller shows around town and are generally left satisfied. Saturday night featured a pair of respected rhyme-slingers as the Pacific Rim Series kicked off with a showcase of the conscious and creative rap flows of Dumbfoundead and Shing02 at Crossroads at Hawaiian Brian’s.
While the skilled wordsmiths from California are acclaimed members of the west coast underground hip-hop scene, their stark contrast in styles complemented each other and satisfied an audience who came to see Dumbfoundead — but went home with an appreciation for both artists.
The night began with support from the local scene as Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winner Illisit and Hoku Award nominees The Horror Show and Kwalified stopped by after the 2014 Hoku Awards to greet promoter Justin “DJ Bone” Kaneshiro and catch Hawaii-based openers Jim Hurdle and Broke Mokes.
The Horror Show, a duo comprised of Makikilo MCs Decibel Grand and Jon Cozy, were clearly still amped from their Hoku Awards experience across the street at the Hawai’i Convention Center, bringing a bit of extra energy that flowed nicely into a set by DJ A-1, Shing02’s tour DJ.
A-1 dropped a throwback tribute to fallen hip-hop artists Big L, Notorious B.I.G. and Guru with a steady dose of DJ Premier beats. Based solely on the crowd’s reaction — or lack thereof — the classic old school tunes proved to be unfamiliar and too advanced for the all-ages crowd to digest.
Shing02 hit the stage just minutes after 10 p.m. The activist MC jumped right into his set, adjusting on the fly as sound glitches and microphone feedback affected the early portion of his performance. He seemed to fix the problem quickly, allowing the attentive crowd to emotionally soak into his live renditions of “Visa” and “Love You Like Water.”
The Japanese lyricist, who had performed at Hawaiian Brian’s before the addition of Crossroads, took a moment to praise the venue’s improvements. He went as far as calling Crossroads one of the “best venues” he has ever performed at.
In an impressive showing that was filled with messages of “make love, make peace,” and “stay creative,” Shing02 ended his set with the powerful “Battle Cry,” a song he created with fallen friend Nujabes.
While Shing02 was able to capture the crowd in a calming fashion, Dumbfoundead relied on feel-good raps and humor. With virtually no break in the action, he cranked up the energy with crowd favorites “Korean Jesus,” “10 Rounds” and “Clear.”
In between songs, the 28-year-old rapper and experienced stand-up comic would entertain with freestyle rhymes and jokes about Hawaii’s infatuation with Spam musubi and kendama, along with why he loves all things Zippy’s.
By this point, the problem with the sound system had apparently affected the air conditioning, and the only relief could be found along the perimeter of the room. While the heat and sound issues had little effect on the overall quality of the show, they were issues nonetheless, but they couldn’t distract the crowd from enjoying performances of “New Chick” and “Cellphone” along with “Shatto Park,” “Green” and Dumbfoundead’s signature track, “Are We There Yet?” He closed things out with the party anthem, “Ganghis Khan.”
Dumbfoundead, who is slowly transitioning his stage moniker to Parker, plucked the best songs from his catalogue while showing a comedic side that could lead to a career as an actor down the line. He rhymed with clarity, confidence and charisma, and Hawaii fans have witnessed his growth and ascension from icon in the battle rap arena to the face of Asian American rap with every performance in Hawaii.
In a genre that lacks diversity, two Asian MCs showed on Saturday night that talent matters more than ethnic background.