Situated across the ocean in the chapped winds, traffic and industrial coastlines of Long Beach, the Oahu-bred Lionel Boy is still bringing tropical heat to the Hollywood music scene with his new EP, Up At 4. Like a breezy afternoon on the beach, Up At 4 feels like ducking into an island getaway, turning off your phone, and giving into the release of vacation.
With only 25 thousand monthly Spotify listeners and a relatively reclusive online presence (his website isn’t even updated with his new project yet), Lionel Boy is a hidden gem of an artist that music discoverers rejoice over. The pleasing melodies, massive production chops and cohesiveness of the project is done with the precise execution of a seemingly long-established and well-rounded artist. Lionel Boy is endlessly creative with each song, unafraid to take risks with synthesizers, vocal alterations and instrumentals. Bedroom pop simply doesn’t get better than this EP.
Each of the five songs on the EP somberly address elements of his relationships in comparison to a boxing match. On “Love," Lionel Boy’s voice sounds like a sigh, amplified and echoed upon itself as synthetic, baritone beats ricochet back and forth on the track. A personal favorite, “SMWYG,” standing for “Show Me What You Got,” is a dynamic mix of changing voices, lazy baritone beats and a triumphant electric guitar. “SHADOWBOXING” is the most melancholy of them all, with lyrics about fighting a losing battle.
Most notably from Hawaiian origins, “Glory Daze” is Lionel Boy’s own rendition of a classic song by Moke Boy called “Hawaiian Kickboxer.” The lyrics translated look like this:
“E hoʻomaka kakou i ka, haʻawina (everyone begins with the lessons)
E kiaʻi aʻe, hoʻopili mai (to guard your space, adhere to this)
E keia manawa, peku kakou (right now, everyone kick)
He mana, ka mākou (our power)”
Lionel Boy has his own special sentiments towards the high-contact sport; “Max Holloway walks out to the original track when he fights – I’m a big UFC fan – and being from Hawaii of course I support Max and love what he does. This was me just messing around with something that already meant a lot to me – and I wanted to put my own spin on it."
At only 13 minutes and 35 seconds long, the escape that is Up At 4 is only a brief weekend away. Big things appear to be on the horizon for the artist, who is signed to Innovative Leisure, an independent label that is home to many notable artists including Tijuana Panthers, Mapache, BADBADNOTGOOD, and Nick Waterhouse. To see more of Lionel Boy, check out the music video for his hit song “Mango Michelada” and be on the lookout for a second EP coming June 17th, the first single of which will be available May 25th.