Molokai-Made Hip Hop Album Na Hoku Finalist

By Catherine Cluett Pactol | Editor

Photo courtesy of Maile Naehu.

Molokai couple Maile and Hanohano Naehu have created a musical album called Ho’okupu, a hip-hop anthology of Hawaiian history. It was nominated for Hip Hop Album of the Year in this year’s Na Hoku Hanohano awards and has been named a finalist for the category, with the awards ceremony this Saturday, July 1. 

Ho’okupu tells the story of Hawaii’s history, from the Kumulipo at the beginning of time, to modern day, using the artistic medium of hip hop. It’s a collaborative effort with emcees, academic professors, Hawaiian historians, chanters, music producers and others, created and recorded at the Naehu’s east end off-grid home. 

“Whenever you come together to create, it’s a very intimidating process because you are not sure if what you are doing is sufficient, good enough with your peers, especially when your peers are supremely talented,” said Hano. “So that process at first was intimidating, and then it got very special, very amazing, real fast.”

The 13-track album was released last September. Their goal was to not only inspire the creation of locally-produced music and content but for the album to be used as an educational tool with an accompanying textbook.

When they got a recent call from Na Hoku Hanohano producers asking if they’d perform live during the show on July 1, they were in disbelief. 

Album cover courtesy of Maile Naehu.

“We’re doing it because we want people to just start thinking a little differently and start having these conversations. So we’re winning when that happens, but for people to validate it and say, ‘Hey, we hear you and we love what you’re doing’ was like a whole ‘nother level,” said Maile. 

Molokai musician Jeremiah Kaholoaa is in the running for Top 10 Favorites for Entertainer of the Year, as well as Reggae Album of the Year, along with other Molokai artists represented at the awards. 

The awards will be held on Saturday, July 1 at the Hawaii Theater as well as televised and available to livestream online. 

For more about Ho’okupu, read next week’s issue of The Molokai Dispatch. 


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