Tassho Pearce
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Tassho Pearce

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Tassho Pearce, aka Emirc, isn’t just Hawaii’s top rapper, he’s making a name for himself internationally as a performer and as a fashion designer.

Kaimuki hip hop artist Tassho Pearce is also making a name for himself as a fashion designer, all the while promoting Hawaii to an international audience. Transplanted to Oahu from a rice-planting village in Japanat the age of 2, Tassho Pearce - aka Emirc, pronounced “immerse” , has re-rooted himself pretty nicely. The young entrepreneur has rubbed elbows with top names in the hip-hop world such as Russell Simmons, 50 Cent, DJ Qbert, The Wu Tang Clan and many others. Whether Pearce is performing, recording, designing apparel for his clothing line, or acting as president and CEO of Flip The Bird Entertainment, he’s kept busy while representing Hawaii the best that he can.

“Everything I do, I have a strong sense of doing it not for myself, but for Hawaii - it’s all about putting Hawaii on the map. I feel like the quality of material that we’re putting out as Hawaii artists should be getting respect on a national level, and that’s my mission. It’s to make enough noise so that people start paying attention outside of Hawaii.”

Pearce has indeed been stirring things up. In early 2007, Pearce collaborated with Run Athletics, the sneaker company headed by hiphop mogul Russell Simmons. The limited-edition sneakers called Shave Ice, Bird Of Paradise and Humuhumunukunukuapuaa were available locally at Kicks/HI, In4mation as well as in stores throughout Europe and Asia. So how did Pearce hook up with Russell Simmons to create Hawaii-themed sneakers?

“A friend of mine, Hakeem Khaaliq, and I saw a flier that Russell Simmons was coming to town (Honolulu) to promote one of his upcoming clothing lines. So I kind of jokingly made a remark to Hakeem (to see) if he can get me a meeting with Russell when he’s out here. We just kind of laughed about it at first, but he ended up making some calls, and through his affiliations the favor was called in if he would sit down and talk with me. So we went down to the Halekulani. We had a rough interview with Russell’s right-hand man poolside. I told him about the clothing line, he liked the logo and then he invited us over to have brunch with his staff. At that point I started talking with Rasheed (president of Run Athletics), who commented on my shirt, which is the Flip The Bird logo, and he liked it a lot. He then asked me, ‘Why don’t we do a sneaker together?’ And I said absolutely. We got the ball rolling right there. Russell then ended up sitting down at our table for a good 20 minutes after that. We just talked a little bit. It was a great experience.” The Humuhumunukunukuapuaa actually looks like the fish. It features the Hawaiian Islands, a tiki, and “HI State"on the tongue. As with all things Pearce does, the entire project was very geared toward promoting Hawaii.

His recently released album, The Opening Act, is the latest of his efforts to show the world that Hawaii has talents beyond hula girls and ukuleles. And to ensure this album beyond our Island shores, Pearce enlisted some heavy-hitting friends in the industry, starting with world-renowned producer Evidence, who has produced for names such as Kanye West, The Beastie Boys and Lincoln Park. The album includes collaborations with DJ Qbert and Babu of Dialated Pupils. “These guys are top notch, and I was just really fortunate because they really helped me take it to the level that I wanted it,” says Pearce. “I’m using my real name as an artist - Emirc is like a nickname, but officially as an artist I’m using Tassho Pearce. I don’t think there’s anyone else named Tassho Pearce, so I’ll just use my name and hopefully people will catch on to it.”



But don’t count Emirc out. Pearce still uses it in aka form, even referring to himself as Emirc on his recent album. The name, which is crime spelled backwards, also doubles as an acronym for Every Moment In Reality Counts. And as Pearce explains, it’s sort of a character he can switch to, a kind of chamber of creativity when he’s writing. The official name change with the release of the album also is because Pearce wanted people to see that the songs are coming from a real place and a real person. He adds,"I really opened up on it. I just told the stories that reflect who I am as a person. I have a song how I speak about my childhood with just my dad out here in Hawaii and no other family. Or even personal records about friend’s struggles with drugs. This is just my experiences; it’s not make-believe.”

Given his a unique family life, Pearce delves into his emotions and experiences growing up without his mom after he and his dad moved to Hawaii. And it’s those same emotions that drive his ambitions, his career and everyday decisions. Pearce was born on a remote island in Japan to a Japanese mother and American father. After separating from his wife, Pearce’s father brought him to live in Hawaii, which was where he felt was a good balance between East and West. Pearce grew up with just his father in Kaimuki, and when he was 16 years old visited his mother in Japan for the first time. “When I got to go back to see my mom, it was a great experience,” says Pearce. “Which is one of the reasons I want to reach a certain level of success, so I can visit my mom as often as possible. Something I wish I could do is spend more time there.” His visit with his mother was just at the time his dreams to establish himself as a hip-hop artist began. As a Kalani High School sophomore, Pearce remembers hanging out with friends, freestyling and just throwing beats.

“By my senior year we were already doing shows,” says Pearce, who has been performing for more than 10 years. “We would go to battles and open mic, land even radio shows like KTUH, where they had Friday night battles. Then eventually promoters asked us to open up for people. I remember one of the first big shows we had was opening for the Wu Tang Clan. That was really big for us, which with was my old group, the Humanakas.” Pearce has since opened for artists such as Kanye West, 50 Cent, Jay-Z, Coldplay, Nine Inch Nails, and Tom Petty, to name a few. It was in 2003, however, that Pearce really began to map his way through the world with the release of his first album, Rhyme and Punishment, and with it was the start of his company, Flip The Bird Entertainment. What originally started as a record label on which to rest his album has evolved into a brand recognized around the world.

“We had the logo on the records and I made about 100 shirts just to give out as promo for the album. People started wearing the shirts and asking where to get more. So I started to make more shirts. And then I took the shirts to a few stores. Then I started researching that and made our company a little more solid. Then we started selling a lot more shirts and the response was across the board. So for the past four years, that’s a lot of what I’ve been doing.” Flip The Bird clothing is sold in about 30 countries throughout Europe. Quality and exclusivity is key, with a limited-edition concept built into every design. As Pearce explains,"We do under 200 pieces in each design, sometimes a little more depending on demand. And we only sell to very premium sneaker boutiques. I think the kids like it because they can wear it to school and not get in trouble but still feel like they’re expressing themselves. It’s not blatant.”

The next step for Tassho Pearce the clothing designer is to add more cut-and-sew items to his clothing line, maybe some surf shorts. As for Tassho Pearce the hiphop artist, there’s touring and another album in the works scheduled for release early next year. And as for Tassho Pearce the entrepreneur, he’s about to launch his new website, www.flipthebirdonline.com, that will be updated to include blogs along with a news and music information, and a store carrying the most updated array of exclusive products (clothing, music and art).

Stay tuned!
- Honolulu Midweek


Discography

Tassho Pearce / The Opening Act available worldwide in all fine retailers that carry Flip The Bird, as well as on i-Tunes, Amazon, Hip Hop Site, and Beatsource.

Tassho Pearce / Are You HI? feat. The Spacifics

EMIRC / Rhyme & Punishment

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Bio

Born on the remote Japanese island of Ishigaki, and raised in Honolulu, Tassho Pearce (aka EMIRC), is Hawaii's #1 hip hop artist and winner of the Hawaii Music Award for Best Hip Hop Album in 2009. In 2004, the multi talented Tassho Pearce started printing up T-shirts to promote his record label, Flip The Bird. The clothing line spread like wildfire gaining such large appeal that his chic, upscale t-shirts have reached the shelves of some of the world’s most respected boutiques. As a performer, Tassho has shared the stage with almost every major Hip Hop act to set foot in Hawaii the last few years, including Kanye West, 50 Cent, WuTang Clan, The Roots, Common, De La Soul, Method Man, Redman, Lupe Fiasco, Mos Def, and many more. Over the summer, Tassho performed at Pemberton Fest in Canada for 40,000 fans on a card that featured Super Star talents like Jay-Z, Coldplay, Nine Inch Nails, Tom Petty, and N.E.R.D.. His new album, aptly titled, “The Opening Act”, is available, worldwide in all fine retailers that carry Flip The Bird, as well as on i-Tunes, Amazon, Hip Hop Site, and Beatsource. The groundbreaking, release features production by heavyweight producer, B-Money (Jay-Z, 50 Cent), Evidence (Linkin Park, Beastie Boys), and appearances by Dilated Peoples, Q-Bert, Apathy, and Rhettmatic. The Hawaii Hip Hop scene is represented well with noteworthy contributions provided by local favorites Syze-1, Omega Cix, Slo Mo and Mushmouf of Fortilive, The Level, Fame-1, Kimo James, and many more. Finally, something that sets Tassho apart from most other hip hop artists is his live band, The Spacifics. Borrowing the horn section from local ska faves Go Jimmy Go, turntablism by DJ Packo, and a rhythm section drawing influence from reggae, rock and hip hop, the band is able to bring Tassho's clever lyrics and classic delivery to a much wider audience.