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CD REVIEW: Hokis Volume Meg

Arpik Paraghamian / Staff Writer

An independent London-based youth group called RBO is out to redefine Armenian music with their CD “Hokis Volume Meg.”

This compilation of ballads, modern dance tracks, and comical interludes is unlike anything Armenian music has experienced.

Recorded at Airtank Studios in London, “Hokis” was released in August and features Armenian artists from Boston, Beirut, and London who are successfully replacing old-fashioned Armenian music with trendy rap and pop influences.

“Hokis” opens with the familiar Armenian tune “Karune,” only these young artists personalize it by firing gun shots, literally, at the classic “Karune,” before adding a heavy R&B background and fresh voices, creating the “Hokis” sound.

Needless to say it grabs your attention; you don’t know whether to turn it off because your native music has been abused or to keep listening because it’s unlike anything you have ever heard before.

Young Armenians are out to express their angst and “Hokis” seems to be the best platform on which to do so. But don’t ignore the Parental Advisory sticker on the cover of “Hokis,” it is there for a reason.

Some of the rap songs on “Hokis” are lighthearted and funny, others tell stories of betrayal. But, the most powerful is the track appropriately titled, “Genocide” in which Armenian rapper, Rugged Expression, raps for more than 7 minutes using explicit lyrics.

“Hokis” also caters to a more mature form of Armenian pop music. Some tracks such as, “Chem Ouzer” and “Inche Butjarad” feature Natalie, whose sophisticated singing style makes her a key element on “Hokis.”

What glues “Hokis” together are the hysterical phone calls made by Kev Orkian. Acting as the desperate Gregory, Orkian irritates Armenian business owners and households with his outrageously funny pranks.

“Hokis” is out to do more than just entertain; according to its record label, Dukes Avenue Records, it wants to capture the imagination of Diasporan Armenians worldwide. DAR’s Executive Producer, Harout Bozadjian, who also appears on “Hokis,” would like the young London Armenians to tour. “We need to take the music to the people, especially the younger generation,” Bozadjian said in a news release promoting “Hokis.”

The formula RBO uses works well because these artists are talented, focused, and have something to say. More importantly, their efforts on “Hokis” prove to other young Armenians that their native music is not all about depressing lyrics and annoying doudouks.

“Hokis” is an inspiration for Armenians to express themselves through music in a new and improved way; it has made a mark on Armenian music that cannot be erased, at least until volume two comes out.

“Hokis Volume Meg” can be purchased online at www.hokis.co.uk.