“Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s Facing Future” represents, to most locals and especially to Native Hawaiians, the shining apex of a brilliant career and a crucial artifact of local culture. Dan Kois returns to Hawai’i, interviewing everyone who was involved in IZ’s career and in the recording of “Facing Future”; his legions of rabid local fans, who loved him as much for his excesses and faults as for his talent and activism. This book is a beautifully written account of the life and music, and most famous album, of one of the most legendary figures in contemporary Hawaiian culture.
Israel Kamakawiwo’ole was without a doubt the most popular and beloved singer in Hawai’i. His popularity stemmed not only from his music but from his outspokenness on issues of native Hawaiian sovereignty. IZ’s transformation from feckless, apolitical youth to politically engaged maturity is a familiar story, but his engaging personality – plus his almost-literally larger-than-life stature – made IZ a folk hero in a state struggling like no other with the weight and responsibility of its native heritage.
Facing Future represents, to most locals and especially to Native Hawaiians, the shining apex of a brilliant career and a crucial artifact of local culture. It’s an everyday treasure, an album everyone owns and plays constantly, and two versions of “Hawai’i ’78” – a song first popularized by IZ’s brother in the group they formed together, the Makaha Sons of Ni’ihau – bookend the album. Over a lush wash of ukulele, synthesized strings and throbbing drums, IZ bemoans what the old kings and queens of Hawai’i would think if they saw what their great land has become in these modern times.
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