Rap, hip-hop in focus

Tolu band plans to introduce new musical genres into the iTaukei music industry. Picture: SUPPLIED

FIJIAN band, Tolu (Three) plans to introduce new musical genres into the iTaukei music industry to make it more diverse and appealing.
While many are used to hearing iTaukei love ballads, duets, jazz, and hymn singing, the band is slowly introducing rap and hip-hop in Fiji through new numbers yet to be compiled into an album which they plan to release later.
The band is a trio — hence the name, and they are made up of Saqani native Romulo Leweniqila, music composer Saimoni Numo and Pauliasi Koroiwaca, who is a music composer and the son of musician Georgina Ledua.
Tolu is an acoustic live band blended with beautiful harmonious vocals playing genres of music that sets the mood for a party no matter what the celebration is.
Naturally like any iTaukei musical band, the three musicians’ abilities to blend their harmonies intended to move hearts, soul and feet is something that has been building their popularity since they began singing as a band in 2011.
They have been building their fan base with their own video releases on social media platforms, introducing themselves to music enthusiasts around the country.
The band’s spokesman, Numo, said the response from their fans had been overwhelming, adding it was something that had been driving them to do more and return better every time.
Numo, who was brought up in Lami and has been holding his own gigs in hotels in the West, said they could only dream of the day when they could stamp themselves as an established musical band.
“I met up with the two Pauliasi and Romulo in the West while they were also doing their own shows performing in hotels and small functions and what drew us together was our dream to explore new musical genres and produce something new for our iTaukei populace,” he said.
“One thing was clear and that is we had to sing in iTaukei to appeal to our fans meaning our hip-hop, rhythm and blues and rap songs were going to be sung in the Bau dialect or any dialect for that matter depending on our target fans.
“Now it is something new because these genres of music have never been sung in the iTaukei tongue or maybe if it was it never really made it out there.
“Then we have our Fijian classics which seriously have never aged since they were written because the popularity of old iTaukei ballads has never lost their touch.”
Numo said, “If one sang a new song today people on the street would criticise the music but if one belted out a soulful version of Sai Levuka Ga you would have people clapping and smiling away.
“For me personally I think our work as a band is to find that jell that will keep our fans hooked even if we have to introduce our rap numbers but at the same time give them choices which is why we are still doing remakes of our old iTaukei classics,” he said.
“Therefore we are putting an album, made up of rap numbers sung by us and composed by the group including a few classical that haven’t lost their lustre over the years.”
Since forming in 2011, the youngest member of the band Koroiwaca said the band had been performing at weddings, parties and other social events.
“We do cover songs, from classic old iTaukei songs like Cakaudrove, Bua kei Macuata (CBM) and Veivanua au Dau Sokota Voli, giving these old numbers what I call the Tolu twist so that it is still crisp and applicable to our fan base,” he said.
To any listener hearing them for the first time the trio’s soulful voices along with their choice of upbeat musical instrument maybe compared with a blend between Maroon 5 and UB40.
Being the band’s lead singer, Koroiwaca has really inherited his mother’s talent who is one of Fiji’s beloved songstress.
Koroiwaca was introduced to music early in his life, singing in Sunday schools while growing up in Lami with his four siblings.
He is originally from Nakini, Naitasiri and has maternal links to Liku, Nayau, Lau.
“Ever since I can remember I have always loved music from a variety of artists from within our local and international arena,” Koroiwaca said.
“I love Black Rose, Stevie Heatley, Georgina Ledua, Boys II Men, Brian McKnight, Craig David, Luther Vandross and recently have an obsession with Chris Brown.”
His dad Iliaseri Koroiwaca, is a musician, composer and singer.
Koroiwaca’s singing was groomed in church and later evolved into public performances, during Fiji Day celebrations, school events and later eventuated in taking part in musical events.
“I am overwhelmed at the attention I get because of my music but at this moment I feel like there is still a lot that I need to learn with the pros and cons of the industry,” he said.
Koroiwaca has featured with local artist such as Romulo Leweniqila, Saimoni Numa, Savuto, Kiti Niumataiwalu, Tua, Paulini Bautani, Ilisavani Cava, Red Child, Roland Williams, Jasmine Duxbury, and Elena Baravilala.
“I’ve performed with artists such as Paulini Curuenavuli and George “Fiji” Veikoso which for me was such a privilege and they are humbling world-class individuals who inspire me to do more with my musical talents,” he said.
Meanwhile, the band’s third member Leweniqila who is also a newcomer into the Fijian music industry is no stranger to singing having natural musical talents following in the footsteps of his cousins off the coast of Saqani who have established themselves in the iTaukei musical industry.
The group’s name was put together last year after a fan suggested to the group that even though they were a trio, the wholesome sound they made was just refreshing and complete.
The three musicians had previously worked as an in-house band at Cardo’s Restaurant in Port Denarau, Nadi and for them it’s always about keeping up their standard through their music.
They want to ensure that at the end of every performance their fans return home from their concerts with a great experience.
Their long-term plan is to make an album and do originals and be good role models for upcoming artists doing their best in delivering great music.

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