rainbow in maui.jpeg

I was a little depressed to return to the mainland after a transformational nine days in Hawai’i (specifically Maui and Kaua’i). Go ahead, I’ll wait while you play your tiny violin.

What’s been cheering me up is listening to some of the local music I heard there. It transports me to driving around in constant awe of the lush, tropical landscape. I can see the mountains in my mind’s eye, I can smell the rain, and I can taste the mango pineapple smoothie.

a roadside fruit oasis

a roadside fruit oasis

As a music loving traveler, I enjoy listening the radio stations to see if there are any dope local artists I should know, and to learn about local events or news. How analog. Frankly, radio is also often the only choice in economy rental cars without Bluetooth or USB ports. Protip: bring an AUX cable!

I also like to see what commercial music is poppin’ in different areas of the world. Which Drake or Taylor Swift or Rihanna songs will I hear? Will Fetty Wap make an appearance? If you’re wondering hearing “Trap Queen” driving through the coast of West Maui was pretty memorable, and we (surprisingly) only heard “Controlla” once.

Even though Hawai’i is obviously part of the United States, the local stations have a solid island vibe. They play a lot of reggae tunes and there’s a strong Caribbean influence which I didn’t expect. You’ll hear old school standards like Bob Marley and Tanya Stephens alongside new Hawaiian artists who are clearly influenced by their predecessors but inject their own flavor. My favorite stations for Hawaiian jams in Maui were Native 92.5 FMQ103 FM (they had a “420 Stoner Song of the Day” every day at 4:20 p.m.) and KPOA 93.5 FM.

Jammin’ to the radio in West Maui “traffic.”

Jammin’ to the radio in West Maui “traffic.”

To get me through my reintegration to the mainland which is experiencing all sorts of political strife, I made a Youtube playlist so I can escape and pretend I’m still in that magical land driving with “aloha.” I also wanted to share my favorite tunes so folks can feel some of the island flavor for themselves.

Some of them are pretty ridiculous like the “Pokemaster (Remix),” where the singers go back and forth asking each other which Pokemon they’ve caught. The majority of the songs I liked the most were simple, cheesy love songs with some semblance of a reggae beat that just made me smile. It was refreshing to hear sweet songs about love and sex, not just aggressive lyrics about fucking. I’m not a prude about sexual content but it’s affirming to hear a man musically centering a woman’s pleasure and desires. And of course, pop jams and throwbacks that are essential parts of the Maui radio rotation. “Everyone Falls in Love” by Tanto Metro and Devonte is on rotation like it’s 1999.

Pour yourselves some rum or spark one up (or both) and peep the playlist.

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