When describing his hip-hop group The City Limits, guitarist Ty Donovan says they’re a lot like the Avengers. That might sound like a bold assertion, but he does have a point. After all, The City Limits is comprised of a group of talented individuals — also including emcee Creed Chameleon, DJ Doughmz, keyboardist Ely Macadandang, drummer Jarrett Marquez and bassist Render — who have joined forces to create something larger.
“We have so many different (musical) backgrounds in our band,” Donovan says. “But our styles just come together.”
And if that’s the case, then the project that they currently are working on is like the Avengers teaming up with the Justice League: They’re headlining a West Coast tour featuring Super Groupers, a local hip-hop collective comprised of Navid Najafi, Illis It and Scott Ohtoro. Presented by clothing brand Farmers Market Hawaii, the Golden Era District Tour will take the bands to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego and Arizona beginning July 27.
“It is a blessing to do this tour,” Creed Chameleon says. “The whole concept of the tour is just trying to branch out as Hawaii hip hop artists and trying to make timeless, classic music — and just good music in general coming from the Islands.”
That part about branching out from Hawaii makes up the crux of the tour for both bands. A larger part of the tour’s purpose, they say, is to pave the way for other local acts to be able to play on the Mainland — and ultimately to expand the reach of Hawaii-grown music.
“The whole focus of The City Limits is just the fact that we are so limited on this island, so (our name) reflects the fact that we don’t need to confine ourselves within the city limits — we are the city limits — so we are trying to branch out,” Creed explains.
Both groups are inspired by ‘90s hip-hop (hence the tour title), a shared interest that has led to a seamless partnership. And while they’re not taking the stage together on this tour — Super Groupers will be opening for City Limits at each show — it could be a signal of things to come in the future. On collaborating, Creed says this: “Stay tuned, because we are going to be making some new music together pretty soon.”
Metro recently had the chance to catch up with Creed Chameleon and Ty Donovan of The City Limits, and Navid Najafi and Scott Ohtoro of Super Groupers to talk about their partnership, the tour and what’s to come.
HOW DID YOUR TWO GROUPS CONNECT?
Navid Najafi: I dig their music. We grew up listening to the same stuff, the same vibe — it’s a natural fit.
Creed Chameleon: I like their music — that is the reason that I work with them, first off. I have always wanted to work with them. With the Super Groupers, it’s the same type of motive as (The City Limits).
WHAT DO YOU MEAN THAT YOU HAVE A SIMILAR MOTIVE?
CC: Our motive is just trying to bring good music. Yeah, we want to get paid doing what we do, but I think it is just that drive and passion. I think I can speak for every one of them: Music drives us; money doesn’t motivate us. Money is good, but …
Ty Donovan: But money is not dancing at our shows.
THE CITY LIMITS IS STILL PRETTY NEW — CAN YOU TELL ME MORE ABOUT HOW YOU FORMED?
CC: We formed in October of last year. It started with myself, (drummer) Jarrett (Marquez) and DJ Doughmz. I wanted to get that live-sound feel, and we just wanted to bring back that whole golden-era sound, back to ‘90s kind of hip hop. Definitely within a short amount of time, we cohesively created a lot of music and have been able to play some really good shows — definitely got some good chemistry going. I have always been a solo artist … but it’s definitely exciting to have a band and a crew to create the same type of music that I like making.
WHAT RELEASES CAN WE EXPECT FROM THE CITY LIMITS?
CC: We are in the works of dropping something — it is going to be probably like a live acoustic recording of our sessions so far. We are in the midst of trying to get a full-length album, and we are going to be dropping an EP some time this summer.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM BOTH OF YOUR GROUPS AFTER THE TOUR?
Scott Ohtoro: Super Groupers has an album coming out — we are going to drop it during the tour — Learn To Fly.
CC: After the tour, I can’t really say, but we will potentially be opening for some big artists. I can’t release it, but we have already got offers.
WHAT IS YOUR GOAL WITH THE TOUR?
NN: To expand our limits, and then for Hawaii artists to make a presence to these venues, promoters, fans, other artists — they will see, hey these guys are from Hawaii. It’s not like we are the first (local groups) to ever do this, but we need this constant exchange. And we may make connections out there and invite people here, so it’s really for the benefit of the whole scene: If one of us does well, we can all do well.
SO YOU’RE SAYING THIS TOUR COULD HELP HAWAII MUSIC AS A WHOLE — HOW?
CC: I think it’s just making that effort, making that ripple — we gotta drop that stone in the water to make it ripple. Somebody has gotta do it, and it will all fall into place for all these other artists.
NN: Hopefully, when we go to these places, we are able to make some connections and we are able to open doors for other artists to do the same. There is already this connection between Hawaii and the West Coast — we gotta keep this thing alive. For us, it’s like a responsibility — like, we can’t be whack when we go out there; we might just kill the whole if we’re whack. We gotta bring it — we gotta go out there and represent.
To help fund travel and lodging costs for the tour, The City Limits and Super Groupers are running an indiegogo campaign (indiegogo.com/projects/help-the-city-limits-super-groupers-tour–2#/), which wraps July 21. Donations come with various incentives, from a Farmers Market grab bag to a Creed Chameleon discography.