Biography: Who is Jason Tom?
Jason Tom, Hawaiʻi's Human Beatbox, began beat boxing and scat singing at the tender age of four to the chorus of Michael Jackson's "Bad" on audio cassette tape. He has collaborated live with Michael Winslow, Tom Thum and Jake Shimabukuro. He is a fifth-generation Hawaiʻi Chinese American born and raised in Downtown Honolulu's Business and Arts District. Growing up in the urban and southern coast of Oʻahu, Tom speaks English, Cantonese and Mandarin fluently.
Since 2004 he has been rocking the mic as a freelance musician, beat boxer, voice actor and inspirational speaker to young, old and professionals alike while spreading an urban a cappella art form known as vocal percussion. His unique style mixes old- and new- school beatboxing with hip-hop, house and dubstep with his own personal touch and personality. Tom has also been dubbed the Human Skrillex.
In 2006 and 2007, he placed in four consecutive Kapiʻolani Community College talent contests. Then one Friday evening in October 2008 became the turning point in his journey and spiritual life. He entered the nationwide Emerge Talent Contest at Word of Life, vying for a $600 cash prize. Prior to the performance, he prayed, promising God that if he did well, he would not give up no matter how hard life got. If he did poorly, he would move on to something else, maybe become a math teacher. Regardless of the outcome, he promised he would continue to pursue a closer walk and personal relationship with Jesus. Tom was the last to perform out of 12 contestants, and emerged as the 1st-place winner. He continues to look to God for guidance in his endeavors as a professional beat boxer.
In Honolulu, audiences first took note of Tom for his cover routine of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” that he fused with beatboxing, singing, dance and the moonwalk. His original song "Listen Carefully" was inspired by the sound and feel of Bobby McFerrin, Rahzel the honorary beatboxer of The Roots and MC Jin. The “Billie Jean” routine and Tom’s original tunes have also been described as a combination of rap and electric dance music. The sound library produced by his voice includes kicks, snares, hi-hats, bass, synths, tom-toms, and wobbles.
Tom, 34, is a three-time performance poet grand finalist of Hawaiʻi Slam's First Thursdays poetry slam. He is dubbed the Michael Jordan of the largest registered slam poetry competition in the world.
As the founder of Human Beatbox Academy and co-founder of the Hawaiʻi Hip-Hop Collective, Tom does outreach with performances, workshops and events for people of all ages. He has toured China and collaborated with groups such as Hawaiʻi Meth Project and Music With A Message.
Tom has been invited as featured presenter at TEDx Talk conferences, the 6th International Human Beatbox Convention and the 1st and 5th American Beatbox Championship in New York City, and is also featured in the documentary film, "American Beatboxer."
In 2010, Tom became the first Asian American beat boxer in the nation to be featured on the website of the global beatboxing multimedia platform Beatbox Battle Network and then in 2014 on the Beatbox Battle TV YouTube channel of over 461,998 subscribers. In 2011, he presented "Vocal Groove" on the TEDx Talks YouTube Channel subscribed by 6,781,622 viewers. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the Top 150 professional beat boxers in the world for the Beatbox Battle World Championship, the World Cup festival for beat boxing, in Berlin, Germany. He has been dubbed Hawaiʻi's King of Beatbox.
In 2016, Tom with 6,291 community votes finished as the Top 3 musician out of 40 contestants of musicians and bands in the McDonald's of Hawaiʻi's Inaugural NextNext Statewide Music Competition and Charity Event that he also helped to raise funds for Ronald McDonald House Hawaii Charity. Through that contest, he was awarded a $1,000 prize that poured back into his music endeavors and is currently awaiting a development deal offer from Amazing Record Co. Tom recently performed beat boxing for an eight-show premier production with the cast and crew of "Creation," presented by Prisma Dance at Paliku Theatre that featured dance, music, acrobatics, poetry, beatbox, aerial, piano, and art. In Sydney, Australia, he worked on an exclusive beatbox project that will launch in May 2017. He has over 15,981 fans and followers on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, ReverbNation, Twitter, Tumblr, Myspace, Pinterest, and more.
The Human Beatbox Academy pays its respects to Hawaiʻi beatbox pioneers Radical Rob Onekea, Gizmo also known as ACE of Princes of Percussion and Re-Run of TMT. Jason Tom would also like to send out his prayers and condolences to the family and friends of Arman "Keone" Wilson also known as ACE. Rest in peace ACE!
"Even just hearing Jason Tom speak, it’s no wonder how he has become a widely known beatboxer. His speech is peppered with vocal percussion — in mid-conversation, he’ll suddenly drop a beat.He’s been performing since 2004, and over the years, he has managed to amass quite a following. Chances are you’ve seen him perform or at least heard his name — he does, after all, have a hand in a lot of different things."
-Christina O'Connor, Metro HNL Newspaper Cover Feature, Honolulu Star-Advertiser
"Jason Tom recorded a beatbox version of Michael Jackson’s 'Bad' when he was 4. Today he is ranked as one of the top 150 male professional beatboxers in the world."
-Nina Wu, Honolulu Star-Advertiser's Today Cover Feature
"Jason Tom is known as Hawaii’s Human Beatbox. He is a two-time performance poet grand finalist and five-time, 1st place winner of Hawaiʻi Slam’s First Thursdays poetry slam."
-Julia Hulme, Millennial Magazine
"Jason Tom is a nationally known beatboxer and fashion designer who has asthma. His musical profession presents unique difficulties for someone with airflow issues. Like many vocalists, his only instrument is his mouth."
-Fernando Pacheco, Island Scene Magazine (Hawaii's premier health and wellness magazine)
"Jason Tom is a beatboxer whose unique sounds landed him in the world of slam poetry. He has been involved with slam poetry for six years now. Tom's intersection of beatboxing and slam poetry makes him a special breed in Chinatown. He said that the beauty of the two art forms is that both utilize the human voice."
-Chinatown Now Newspaper
"Girl Fest loves its conscious brothers in the community working to equalize gender disparities between men and women as well as boys and girls. That's why we jumped at the chance to interview local Hip-Hop artist Jason Tom aka the 'Human Beatbox.' You may have seen him on stage busting out sounds that normally come out of machines, but you may not know that he also teaches his art to girls and boys-- not to mention he's our kind of man against violence!"
-Girl Fest E-Zine
"Wanting to gain more performing experience, local beatboxer Jason Tom was introduced to slam poetry in 2004. Finding inspiration from music, he was inspired by his peers to take on a new venture as an artist. 'It’s exciting to go on stage and they appreciate it because it’s the human voice. They care about what we have to say,' Tom said. Nervous for Thursday’s big event, he said all he wants to do is show the crowd that he is having fun. 'It’s intimate on stage and seeing people get up there is a wonderful thing.'"
-Jermel-Lynn Quillopo, Honolulu Pulse, Honolulu Star-Advertiser
“Jason Tom has become an artist to watch. His unusual talent won a perfect score from all the judges during last month's Hawaii's Got Talent competition; Tom's rendition of Michael Jackson's 'Billie Jean' is a spectacle of showmanship.”
-Tracy Chan, Metromix Honolulu
"What sets Jason Tom apart is the incorporation of dance into beatboxing, especially during his trademark Michael Jackson routine."
-Ryan Senaga, Honolulu Weekly
“Jason Tom is a walking, talking instrument; an energetic combination of drums, snare, vocals and synthesizer, all replicated using his voice.”
-Tracy Chan, Honolulu Advertiser TGIF Metromix
“Best local musician deserving of a wider audience: You’ll have to catch Jason Tom at surprise appearances here and there. Until he gains a wider audience or splits for the mainland, check Tom out. Pretty sick.”
-Ragnar Carlson, Honolulu Weekly Best of Honolulu
“Jason is Hawaii 's premier human beatbox whose unique talent has made him a recognizable icon in the local music and art scene.”
-Ellice Island, the 808 Scene Zine
"Jason Tom sounds like a real beat machine, and he demonstrates excellent use of vocals, beat variations, and sound effects. I believe he will be known for his talent."
-Jess Navarrete (break/salsa dancer)
“He has fresh sounds, you can see the energy popping off of him, and he is fierce. His name is Jason Tom, a beat boxer from Honolulu, Hawaiʻi.”
-Maimounah Masudi, Ningin: Asian Media Community
“Jason Tom is an incredible talent. If you can make one of his gigs, please do so. He will blow you away.”
-Traci Toguchi, Good Stuff
“I think Jason Tom has the potential to be a famous whatever he wants to be because he has the qualities such as dedication, passion, and motivation that will take him wherever he chooses to go in life. And if his goal is to become famous beat boxer, then he shall be."
-BB Kim LIVE
- Jason Tom is the Top 3 Musician and $1,000 Prize Winner in McDonald's of Hawaii's Inaugural NextNext Statewide Music Competition and Charity Event
- Jason Tom recipient of the“Best Solo Performer,” Hawaii Scene Choice Award, presented by Nemesis Productions
- Jason Tom voted as the “Best Local Musician Deserving of a Wider Audience” for the Best of Honolulu Weekly
- Jason Tom wrote and composed and performed music for the "I'm Movin' On" track in the Na Hoku Hanohano Award (Hawaii Grammy Award) nominated hip-hop/rhythm and blues album “Nobody Owns Me” by Faioso.
- Jason Tom is a fifth-generation (on father's side) and 3rd-generation (on mother's side) Hawaii Chinese American. People do mistake Jason Tom for being Japanese and Korean, thinking that Tom is a Korean name or his written Chinese name is Japanese. Tom is a Chinese family name.
- Jason Tom was a speaker and entertainer on the “Music With A Message” tour with American Lung Association in Hawaii (Not-On-Tobacco message)
- Jason Tom was a speaker and entertainer on “Say Yes To Purpose” Tour with Diverse Art Center and Academy of Hype
- Jason Tom was a speaker and entertainer on Hawaii Meth Project with Diverse Art Center
- Jason Tom was a Speaker and Entertainer on RAP (Real And Powerful) Anti-Bullying Tour with Department of Education (DOE), Life 360 Network, and the Honolulu Police Department (HPD).
- Jason Tom presented at the Chevron/Honolulu Speech Festival in front of students from 27 elementary schools
- Jason Tom presented at TEDx Honolulu “Shift,” [RE]Think Hawaii Conference, TEDx Honolulu “It’s About Time,” McKinley High School Career Day, Mid-Pacific Institute Career Day, Chaminade University’s Hogan Entrepreneurship Program, Kamehameha Middle School's "Find the Hero in You," Iolani School's Revive Christian Fellowship.
- Jason Tom is featured in the award-winning “American Beatboxer” documentary movie film.
- Jason Tom showcased at the International Human Beatbox Convention (Boxcon) in New York City
- Jason Tom showcased at the 1st and 5th American Beatbox Championship in New York City
- Jason Tom is one of the Top 150 professional beat boxers nominated and selected for the Beatbox Battle World Championship in Berlin, Germany.
- 3x HawaiiSlam’s First Thursdays Top 12 Performance Poet and Grand Slam Finalist.
- Jason Tom hosted as the master of ceremonies/mc/emcee for the weekly open mic night at Goody Goody Bar & Grill for 7 consecutive months.
- Jason Tom founded JasonTom.com (yes, it rhymes) with 1,479,191 page views and 1,361,334 unique visitors averaging 2,589 page views and 2,377 visits per day.
- Jason Tom played varsity soccer and judo at McKinley High School.
- Jason Tom's judo alias is "Spider-Man."
- Jason Tom's played two positions in soccer, it was as a left forward (striker) and left halfback (left wing).
- Jason Tom was the leading goal scorer on his soccer team during his senior season.
- Jason Tom was a professional student scholar in university and community college as a mathematician, Chinese language and culture, and Music Business major.
Break Down of Jason Tom's Chinese Name
Jason Tom's Chinese name is written as 譚志豪 in traditional character form and 谭志豪 in simplified character form.
Pronounced as Taam4 Zi3 Hou4 in Cantonese and Tán Zhìháo in Mandarin. His Chinese family name 譚 (谭) is the origin of his surname Tom. 志 is translated as "will; aspiration" and 豪 is translated as "a person of outstanding talent" as defined by the Oxford Chinese to English Dictionary.
In 2008, Tom was introduced as 譚志豪 (谭志豪) at the historic Chinatown Cultural Plaza's Moongate Stage for the Hawaiʻi Chinese New Year Festival, where he demonstrated a live beatbox remix to "有隻雀仔跌落水 (有只雀仔跌落水)," a Cantonese lullaby about a sparrow with a "London Bridges Falling Down" melody.
Background And Education
Mr. Jason Tom is a class of 2001 graduate of McKinley High School (Honolulu High School or also informally known as Tokyo High). In 2006, as a foreign language, he enrolled in Intensive Chinese through the Freeman Foundation China Scholarship with a focus on Mandarin Chinese at the University of Hawaiʻi at Kapiʻolani, Hawaiʻi Tokai International College and abroad at Beijing Foreign Studies University (北京外国语大学). On November 4, 2006 he was inducted to the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society. In 2007, Tom was on the University of Hawaiʻi at Kapiʻolani's Dean's List and graduated with his Liberal Arts in Associate of Arts. On December 27, 2006 he received a letter by the United States Achievement Academy to be honored nationally as an official Collegiate All-American Scholar Award winner nominated by the University of Hawaii at Kapiʻolani's dean Louise Pagotta. Meanwhile he simultaneously enrolled at Belmont University in partnership of the University of Hawaiʻi at Honolulu and the Mike Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business for Music Business, Audio Engineering and Songwriting through the MELE Program thanks to former Hawaiʻi Governor Linda Lingle and Lieutenent Governor Duke Aiona administration.
In His Own Words
In my own words (the word of my testimony): As a fifth-generation Hawaiʻi Chinese American, I remember what it was like to be bullied and picked on as early as kindergarten and felt parallelized. Many of us can relate to bullies, either being one or was bullied by one. I was teased non-stop as "four eyes" and "loser" until I fought back in self-defense against bullies and group of bullies (like Bruce Lee) throughout elementary and middle school. I was often sent to detention for fights and had low-esteem and a negative outlook in life.. it was awkward growing up until I chose to believe that I don't have to live that way forever and decided to flip the script!
I grew up as an athlete and lettered two years in varsity soccer and judo and developed a personality. I also tried out in basketball, volleyball and baseball. I retired my soccer jersey number "17" from McKinley High School (Honolulu High School) class of 2001. My judo alias "Spider-Man" was given by my 5th-degree black belt coach Clinton "Tubby" Sunada due to uncanny spider-web like grip fighting, slinging, grappling, throwing, sprawling, and shooting techniques. It was all the motivation to stick with judo and on December 11, 2002, I earned my Yonkyu-Green Belt by the United States Judo Federation and Central Coast Judo Association's 4th-dan president Vaughn Imada, 7th-dan instructor Emilio Mel Augustine, and 9th-dan Chairman of the Examining Board Kaiki Fukuda.
On Friday, February 27, 2004, my application of judo miraculously saved my life after intense training at Shobukan Judo Club in Liliha as a member of the 50th State Judo Association when I got struck by a fast 3,610 pound van that made a left turn. With no fear I took the impact judo style and I broke my fall and safely landed on the wet asphalt from stormy forecast.
I was able to answer questions by the immediate emergency rescue team and I was sent to the Queen's Medical Center and left that same night with no broken bones and no serious injuries. I experienced some trauma. I thank God that female driver was sober and she was not a hit and run. Next morning my older sibling (I am the youngest of two in my family) took me to see the Passion of the Christ and that pointed my focus back on Jesus. That was the spark I needed to be reawakened and the rest is history! It inspired me to the point that I wanted to take care of unfinished business academically and pursue my passion for music with beatboxing professionally and to surrender my whole heart and to seek more of Jesus in regards to my livelihood.
Academic to professional journey...
On December 27, 2006 I received a letter by the United States Achievement Academy to be honored nationally as an official Collegiate All-American Scholar Award winner nominated by the University of Hawaii at Kapiʻolani's dean Louise Pagotta. I moved on from that endeavor with the faith in God the size of a mustard seed and the pursuit in life to dream BIG and to live beyond the box as a freelance musician for the love and passion for the culture and music of the Human Beatbox element of hip-hop culture and to share the word of my testimony on how I overcame by the blood of the lamb.
Who Jason Tom Have Worked With (Not An Exhuastive List)
- 808 Urban
- American Lung Association in Hawaii
- Blank Canvas
- Diverse Art Center
- EastThree (East-3) of Rock Steady Crew
- Family Programs Hawaii
- Hawaii Aloha Travel
- Hawaii Meth Project
- Hawaii State Art Museum (HiSAM)
- Heart & Soul
- Heart For Kakaako
- Honoka & Azita
- Honolulu Police Department (HPD)
- Honolulu Museum of Art (Academy of Art)
- Hope Chapel West Oahu
- Inspire Church Waikele
- Jake Shimabukuro
- Jody Kamisato
- Kealoha of HawaiiSlam and First Thursdays
- Life 360 Network
- Michael Winslow the Man of 10,000 Sounds
- Mighty4 Arts
- Now We Collide
- Ong King Art Center
- Orchard Marketing
- Prisma Dance
- Skillroy of Rock Steady Crew
- TEDx Honolulu
- TEDx Talks
- Tom Thum
- Ukulele Hale
- Quest Crew
- Willow Chang
- Word of Life Christian Center Downtown Honolulu
- Word of Life Emerge
- Word of Life Kidz Life
- Word of Life Mililani
- World Beatbox Association
What is A Human Beatbox?
A "human beatbox" is a term made popular in the early 1980's in hip-hop culture and was coined to Doug E. Fresh by Barry B. in 1982. Doug E. Fresh is also the song and dance inspiration behind "Teach Me How to Dougie" by the Cali Swag District. "The Human Beatbox" was also made popular in the mainstream by the late Darren Robinson also known as Buffy and DJ Doc Nice of the legendary rap trio known as the Fat Boys. "Beatboxing" is also known as the fifth element of hip-hop culture in the community among the four pillars of hip-hop which are writing, bboying/bgirling/dance, deejaying/turntablism, and emceeing. Beat boxing was also pioneered by Biz Markie who is known for his "You've Got A Friend" hit and Markie was also featured in the children's Yo! Gabba Gabba in "Biz's Beat of the Day." Rahzel the Godfather of Noyze and Kenny Muhammad the Human Orchestra were the next to push the human beatbox art form to the limelight. A beatboxer is a person who emulates music, percussion, synthesizers, a drum machine, and more with his or her voice. Beatboxing is an A Cappella art form that has its origins in jazz genre of music stylings of scat singing and an urban form of vocal percussion. A human beatbox is a vocal musician who does voice music.
Jason Tom has facilitated human beatbox workshops and or done motivational/inspirational speaking tours at these studios and or schools (not an exhaustive list)....
- Branch Studios Hawaii
- Diverse Art Center
- Housing Project 360
- The Human Beatbox Academy/Hawaii Beatbox Academy
- Kidz Life Hawaii
- Waikiki Community Center Preschool
- College (New York)
- Hawaiʻi Pacific University
- Tokai University (Hawaii Tokai International College)
- Tufts University (Boston)
- University of Chaminade Hawaiʻi
- University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa
- University of Hawaii at Honolulu Community College
- University of Hawaii at Kapiʻolani Community College
- University of Hawaii at Leeward Community College
- University of Hawaii at Windward Community College
- Campbell High School (Sabers)
- Castle High School (Knights)
- Farrington High School (Governors)
- Kalaheo High School (Mustangs)
- Kalani High School (Falcons)
- McKinley High School/Honolulu High School (Tigers)
- Moanalua High School (Menehunes)
- Nanakuli High School (Golden Hawks)
- Pearl City High School (Chargers)
- Radford High School (Rams)
- Roosevelt High School (Rough Riders)
Intermediate and Elementary
- Aina Haina Elementary School
- Ala Wai Elementary School
- Aliiolani Elementary School
- Hahaioni Elementary School
- Hokulani Elementary School
- Jefferson Elementary School
- Kahala Elementary School
- Kalihi Elementary School
- Kalihi-Uka Elementary School
- Kalihi-Waena Elementary School
- Kamiloiki Elementary School
- Kauluwela Elementary School
- Koko Head Elementary School
- Kuhio Elementary School
- Liholiho Elmentary School
- LIkelike Elementary School
- Lincoln Elementary School
- Lunalilo Elementary School
- Maemae Elementary School
- Manoa Elementary School
- Noelani Elementary School
- Nuuanu Elementary School
- Palolo Elementary School
- Pauoa Elementary School
- Puuhale Elementary School
- Royal Elementary School
- Waiau Elementary School
- Waikiki Elementary School
- Hawaii Baptist Academy
- Iolani Middle School
- Kamehameha Middle School
- Mid-Pacific Institute Middle School
- Word of Life Academy
- Central Middle School
- Kaimuki Middle School
- Niu Valley Middle School
- Waipahu Middle School
- Washington Middle School