THE PUREST FORM
Monarx Monarxは2MCのQuietとOmega Cix、そしてプロデ ューサーBumbleeの３人からなるホノルルで活動をして いるヒップホップグループだ。 フォトジャーナリスト、 リアナ・ ステルバーグはハワイのヒップホップシーンや彼らの音楽
Words & Photography Riana Stellburg
Monarx is the purest form of hip-hop. Bumblebee, Monarx’s DJ, handcrafts the sound either with his MPC or with vinyl, providing the heartbeat for vocalists Quiet and Omega Cix. Both emcees are breathtaking lyricists that incorporate different nostalgic themes into their verses. Monarx embodies a mindset of originality and uniqueness. When Bumblee drops the beat it incites chicken skin.
Riana: Why did Monarx form? Omega Cix: My take on what Monarx is…I think we’re born out of improbability yet inevitability, which sounds kind of like a paradox. I’ve always been a hip-hop head […] I don’t think I’m a rapper or whatever you want to call it. I’m a fan of hip-hop that happens to rap. As long as I’ve known these two [Bumblebee & Quiet], it’s been over 10 years, seriously, there’s no other two people I’d rather be working with here or probably anywhere. In cyphers, it’s always these same cats making me rewind. We were part of different crews, from different parts of the island [O‘ahu], and just never really got the opportunity to connect.
Quiet: When we created Monarx, our music wasn’t so much audience-minded. It was for us first. But what I know of them [Cix & Bumblebee], they’ve always been the dudes you look to do new things. Whether it’s something that Travis (Omega Cix) says that blows your mind...he’s been doing that for a long time. Everything he does is a first. He is a genuine originator. Same thing with Barry (Bumblebee) in his music taste and his DJing and all the things that he does. He’s someone you look to. He instigated different things. Then maybe for myself, in the same vein, I’m not a tag-along girlfriend or some accidental creation. We just have these natural inclinations. We work well together and decided to come together and see what comes of it. Bumblebee: Kea (Quiet), I believe is the spark of this group. I think for a long time Travis and myself have been very content in just having these self-expressions or moments of feeling good about what we did. I think Kea, all of a sudden showing up on the island again, brought an attitude that made us both want to actually make things count and just stop letting them be moments remembered by ourselves. We’ve gone so long just being content with having fun.
Where did the name, Monarx come from? Q: I love our name. There are so many different ways to say Monarx. We changed it with an “X.” The “X” factor. When I think of the name, there’s a very regal sense to it, especially looking at the fact that we’re based in Honolulu. Our culture still holds on really strong to the monarchy and the legacy of Hawai‘i, even after all this time. It’s funny in a sense that we would take on Monarx, as a monarch reflects our strange, yet historical relationship to the scene here...being the elders, but not necessarily irrelevant. I didn’t know this before, but we have our own Hawaiian monarch butterfly– the only albino butterfly that evolved here. To think of a white butterfly absent of color, so many variations and multi-dimensional, it just works well.
Do you associate yourselves with any particular music genre? B: I feel that our music is very b-boy. It’s beat and lyric. What can the MPC and turntables produce? What can the brain and voice box produce? I feel like we are going for everything that is b-boy/b-girl. Whenever people have a hard time figuring out if it’s hip-hop or not, it catches me off guard and I have to go back and assess, ‘okay, why is that? Is that awesome?’ I mean, at the end of the day I feel proud nonetheless because people enjoy the music and people enjoy what we’re doing. OC: The way I see it is that we are what hip-hop would be if the Internet never existed. I feel that emcees nowadays, regionally, just try so hard to be relevant. But I feel that we are more traditional in a sense that we all do the same type of hip-hop we’ve always done. We didn’t change for any being or any movement. We do music like we like to hear it. How does it feel doing live performances? Q: We’re still developing. We’re figuring out our sounds through performing live. We’re also still trying to mediate what sounds that you listen to with your headphones will sound good out loud. It’s hip-hop. We play it out for the people and we get everybody moving and engage the audience. On stage, what do you hope to achieve in your audiences’ reaction to your music? B: I definitely have the audience in mind a lot of the time. As the DJ, I want to carry a sound that can be sourced back to the old days. People in the crowd can say to themselves, “Oh, remember how good it was back in the day,” or “What happened to all that back in the day?” I want people to see it. I want them seeing two emcees that have a unique voice and a DJ going to work. I want them to see the beats coming out of the machine and understand what’s happening. Not just some digital sound generated from some computer or CD player, but visual. It’s not nostalgia for us anymore.
First published article of Hawaii hip-hop trio Monarx in Contrast Magazine