DJ Christonite | Championing Hip Hop in Fiji

Fiji brings to mind images of beautiful island beaches, surrounded by the clearest blue ocean water with the most beautiful people. Its modern day culture is rich with influences from Indigenous Fijian culture, European colonialism (mostly British) and the Indian Indenture Labour System. Suva is the capital of Fiji and home to Chris Mallam. By trade, he is an accomplished architect, but when the party starts, Chris becomes DJ Christonite – in the booth and on the decks he keeps the energy high and the people groovin’.

IMG: Intercontinental Fiji Natadola Beach. Chris Hoare. Flickr. Creative Commons

Chris was introduced to DJing when he earned an architecture scholarship that took him to Japan to study. He worked part-time as a bartender in a club that hosted famous DJ’s and dancehall artists like Sean Paul and Wayne Wonder. He was mesmerized by the DJ’s ability to manipulate the momentum of the evening and influence the energy of the crowds; all from the background of the club. When he returned to Fiji, he began working as an architect, but the Fijian government experienced a coup that left Chris without a job and sent him back to the familiar work of the bar.

Over time the bar needed someone to manage the music. Chris recognized an opportunity and found himself DJing. As he explored his artistic expression through music, he started recording his mixes. Chris would share his DJing mixtapes with friends around the world through SoundCloud and Mixcloud. A talent scout, who was looking to build a team of DJ’s for a cruise ship concept, heard Chris’ mixes and invited him to join the team. Chris was flown to Miami for two weeks of training that set the foundation for his technical growth; where he learned proper techniques for scratching and mixing. The cruise ships took DJ Christonite around the world. While the ships were docked, he would get hired for jobs at local clubs, and thus his international DJing career was underway.

DJ Christonite has been exciting crowds in clubs and at festivals from North America to Asia. Today he works in many of Fiji’s most exotic locations and the surrounding Pacific islands. He is the resident DJ for one of Fiji’s islands and is often hired to spin at events in Fiji for famous visitors from all over the world. His DJing career may have started with the sounds of Dance Hall, but Christonite has taken inspiration from multiple genres of music. His sets include Drum and Bass, Reggae, R&B, Trap, and Funk with a layer of island flavor. He’s been inspired by DJ’s like Rob Swift, Funkmaster Flex, Kid Capri and Afrika Bambaataa to name a few.

Although he is a prominent figure in Fiji’s entertainment scene, Christonite remains humble. He recognizes the privilege of his experience and remains heavily involved in his community.  He understands the importance of the element of DJing to hip-hop culture, and he’s working to share his skills with the youth in Fiji. He will DJ for hip-hop ciphers and jams for local b-boys and b-girls. DJ Christonite has also built relationships with some Fiji’s hip-hop pioneers. He has been documenting Fijian hip-hop history through a series of podcast interviews with MC Sammy G, and his goal is to make them public when he has completed editing the footage.

When he’s not completing architectural designs, DJing for parties or spending time with his family, Christonite hosts DJing workshops in local communities through the Technical Glitch DJ Academy. He and a collective of DJ friends, who call themselves the GlitchMob DJs, will set up equipment in the food court of a well-known shopping mall, attract the attention of the passers-by and invite them to try DJing. Chris’s dream is to be able to take the Technical Glitch DJ Academy to remote parts of Fiji that don’t have modern amenities like electricity and teach workshops in the local Town Halls. It is challenging to share his craft in part because the equipment is hard to acquire on the island.

IMG: Technical Glitch DJ Academy. Course at Damodar City Centre. Facebook.

Fijian culture is based on telling stories through music and dance. The youth of Fiji relate well to hip-hop culture. DJ Christonite (who is also known as Boginikua) gets excited to hear someone from the 679 community spit rhymes over the latest Drake mixtape in the traditional Fijian tongue. The Fijian hip-hop culture proudly incorporates its Fijian roots to add a unique flavor to the elements of MCing, Breaking, DJing, and Graffiti. Hopefully, Christonite can continue to use his international DJ experience and passion to educate Fijian youth about hip-hop culture and guide them in continuing its traditions.

When you next find yourself in Suva, be sure to ask around about where DJ Christonite (Boginikua) will be playing. You’re guaranteed to have an amazing time with some incredible music!

 

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