This month, Majuro has been treated to a visit by an all-star music cast of Les “Yungstar” Anjolok, Yasta “Yastamon” Bolkeim and Clanny “Flavah C” Glanry — all of them famous in their own right and combined, a musical powerhouse.
What stands out when talking to the three about their musical interests and inspiration is the interest they have in a wide range of music, not just Marshallese or rap or hip hop that they infuse into their songs, but Polynesian, Celtic and Indian songs. They not only have tremendous natural music talent from growing up in musical environments in Ebeye and Majuro, but they do their “homework” studying other genres and musicians.
“I listen to mainstream artists and Polynesian signers,” said Glanry. “I get motivated by them.”
Bolkeim lays claim to being the Marshalls’ first rap performer, kicking off a trend when he sang with the Lamaran band 15 years ago. “The Marshallese language is limited,” he said. “If I can mix it (with English), it’s more fun to listen to.”
None of the three want to be pegged as “Marshallese” only singers. One of the reoccurring themes of Anjolok’s music is inclusion of other Pacific islanders in his productions. “Music unites us,” said Anjolok, who is known for his FOB band.
“We are putting the Marshall Islands on the map as artists,” said Bolkeim. Altogether, the trio has been involved in producing over 25 music CDs.
Amazingly, the three resigned from their jobs in the US mainland to make the two-month visit to the Marshall Islands — next stop, Ebeye — and Pohnpei in the FSM. “It’s been a dream of ours to do this tour,” said Glanry. Bolkeim hasn’t been here since leaving Ebeye in the late 1980s to move with his family to Hawaii. “We agreed to do it, and we did it! There are plenty of job opportunities and we’ll find one when we get back. This is a once in a lifetime tour.”
“We don’t regret it at all,” said Bolkeim, adding that their main Majuro sponsor Ace Doulatram, everyone in Majuro, and their supporters in the US have provided amazing support and enthusiasm for their tour. “Majuro’s been good to us,” he said. Glanry added: “The hospitality has been way beyond.”
They are soon heading to Ebeye for a series of concerts and then will go to Pohnpei before returning to Oregon (Anjolok and Glanry) and Utah (Bolkeim).
Read more about the band in the Marshall Islands Journal’s November 27, 2015 edition.