Image courtesy of HI Roots
I can’t recall a time I consistently heard reggae fused with hip-hop and rock within a band. You sometimes hear one or the other, but not the three combined. The San Diego band, Hi Roots might just be the voice to start a new trend. Originally from Hawai’i, Hi Roots started off as a reggae-rock group playing in backyards and university parties. Eventually, they started opening up for reggae hard-hitters like Eek-A-Mouse, Elijah Emanuel, Tribal Seeds and Iration, who also spring from Hawaii. Once in a while, their boy, Cisco aka CIZFLOW from the Big Island would hop on stage and rap alongside the band. Soon, it only made sense that the seven-member band would join an eighth. Their sound was now complete.
Hi Roots just released their new EP entitled, “Pretty City Lights.” It consists of five songs that give off that reggae/hip-hop/rock sound I spoke of earlier. On the fourth track, “In Control,” there’s a Rufio-like rift mid-jam that’s just genius. You can purchase their EP on iTunes http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/pretty-city-lights-ep/id529153266.
Contrast spoke with CIZFLOW of Hi Roots to get the scoops on their new EP, “Pretty City Lights,” what went on behind the production and their sound.
Contrast: Is this your first EP and how long did you guys work on this one?
CIZFLOW: Yes, it is our first EP as an eight-man band and it has taken us about a year or so to get this EP together—mostly because we didn’t have the money.
What was the reason behind naming the EP “Pretty City Lights?”
The reason for the title, “Pretty City Lights” is because that specific track is the most produced on the EP. Also, we are a bunch of local 808 braddahs trying to make it BIG on the mainland full of pretty city lights and action. Everybody likes looking at the pretty city lights. And that’s what we want: for people to enjoy our light. We want to shine, and we want the world (from city to country) to enjoy what we radiate.
How have you changed the sound of Hi Roots and how would you classify that sound now?
I give us raw and hype energy. I give an element of MC to our reggae/rock sound. I’d classify our sound as “SOCIAL MUSIC”, which is a combination of rock, reggae, and hip-hop, which you can listen in any social atmosphere (house party, club, festival, venue, etc.)
What went behind the music for this project to happen?
The things that went behind the music for this project to happen are never ending, and to list it would take forever. Many people have made vital contributions (Taylor Miller with photo art, Ryan Hakoda with videography, etc.) But basically, we are very blessed to have Polynesian Underground and Niels Schroeter handling our booking and management. Also, nothing could have been possible with out producer/engineer Lew Richards at 17th Street Studios. Those elements combined with Hi Roots made the EP possible.
How were these specific songs chosen for the Ep? (I’m guessing you folks have more songs)
We do have more songs, but these specific ones for the EP were the tracks that were fine tuned and ready to record. We wanted to get something out ASAP, so we took the 5 tracks that were ready to go. Plus, if you listen to the whole EP, you’ll find a common theme of struggle and gain within life’s trials and tribulations. The feeling I get from this EP is a bunch of braddahz trying to make it in the Pretty city lights!
Is it hard when creating a song to fit the reggae vibe as well as the hip-hop vibe?
Nah, it’s not that hard making a song for the people. Good music is good music and that’s our main concern. We strive to make classics. Something you can listen to now or many years later, and it still bangs. Whichever genre the masses want to put us in is up to them.
What’s next for Hi Roots?
What’s next for Hi Roots is a lot of live shows, and recording our next EP. Hopefully in that process we can do a national tour and then a world tour. Someday, I hope we can play a show on the moon.