“Jason Tom is from another planet! He is the Michael Jordan of beatboxing! The Human Beatbox Machine!” - Allan Silva
It's not every guy who gets mistaken for a boombox. Former McKinley Tigers' soccer forward, and judo champion Jason Tom, one of Hawai’i's most visible beatboxers, is a walking, talking instrument; an energetic combination of drums, snare, vocals and synthesizer, all replicated using his voice.
Tom's unusual talent won a perfect score from all the judges during Pipeline Hawai’i's Got Talent competition and secured him a place in the final. (He ultimately placed fourth overall.) .
He's collaborated with artists Tom Thum, John Cruz, Jake Shimabukuro, and Imua Garza, and opened shows for Michael Winslow, Blue Scholars, Quest Crew, the Jabbawockeez, Reeps One, and Mike Love. From TEDx, Beatbox Battle TV, KS EdTech, Hawai’i Children and Youth Day to the First Thursday Poetry Slam, the University of Hawai’i at Kapi’olani grad quickly has become an artist to watch with his high-energy performances.
To date, Jason Tom perpetuates the art of vocal percussion to 5.6 million families, companies, and households.
It was Charlie and Lucy Wedemeyer's story that moved Tom, and when they signed his copy of Charlie's Victory that launched him to flip the script over his life, and be a significant example in this world on what it means to not give up, no matter what.
At an early age, Tom was vocally compelled to sing the snare of a drum, and the bass of a synthesizer. Today, he vocally sings the didgeridoo by fusing beatboxing, and Genghis Blues-inspired Tuvan throat singing. Tom's unique contribution to "Billie Jean" in the entertainment world is the non looping simultaneous live fusion of beatboxing, singing, and moonwalk dance that skyrockets him to another orbit.
HUMAN BEATBOX HISTORY, BLUEPRINT, AND INFLUENCE
Jazz legend Bobby McFerrin and Michael Winslow the Man of 10,000 Sound Effects are the blueprint of a beatboxer. The "human beatbox" was coined by Dj Barry B in 1982 to describe Doug E. Fresh, when he would vocally mimic a drum machine. Beatbox in hip hop described a "drum machine." A human beatbox in urban culture is a "human drum machine." Buffy of the rap trio Fat Boys made the human beatbox go mainstream. In modern day, a human beatbox is known also as a beatboxer, mouth drummer, multi vocalist, and vocal percussionist. Biz Markie, Rahzel the Godfather of Noise, and Kenny Muhammad the Human Orchestra paved the way for the next wave of beatboxers.
Hawaiʻi's human beatbox pioneers Radical Rob, Gizmo, Re-Run, and Joevon Brown paved the way for Jason Tom. Asian American beatboxers Leejay Abucayan and Elaine Chao, and BET 106 & Park Freestyle Friday Hall of Famer MC Jin also inspired him.
AMATEUR BEATBOX DAYS
What you hear from Jason's beatbox sound was spawned from his upbringing in urban Honolulu, and his early childhood years in East Bay California.
As we go through a time machine capsule to 1989, Jason Tom's amateur beatbox days began at age six while Ronald Regan completed his second term as the 40th president of the United States of America. It took place at his parents' master bedroom turned into a make shift music studio with his music cassette recorder in the concrete jungle of Downtown Honolulu.
Jason music cassette recorded his beatboxing by memory of Michael Jackson "Bad" after he watched the Moonwalker VHS at Liholiho Elementary, and at family gatherings. He was inspired by the raw urban culture and New York Subway scenes in "Bad," "Badder," and Weird Al Yankovic's "Fat."
Fast forward in time to 2004, Jason's professsional beatbox days began at age 21 when he enrolled at the University of Hawaiʻi at Kapiʻolani as soon as he became conscious with a concussion at Queen's Medical Center from a traumatic collision with a SUV. His instinctive judo sprawl, shout and side fall, driver that rendered help and her prayer, and that ambulance team ultimately saved his life.
In the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, Jason continued to beatbox behind the scenes when he transferred to Kauluwela Elementary, and his years at Kawananakoa Middle, and McKinley High. He attempted to play a toy piano, ukulele, ipu, tuba, and a Chinese lion dance play drum set. Jason was more compelled to vocally sing the instruments than to actually play them by hand.
As a Kauluwela Tiger Cub, he self-published comic books and created characters like Gecko Man to a small audience. He briefly attended and dropped out of Sun Yat-sen Chinese School. George H.W. Bush finished his one term as 41st US president, and Bill Clinton began his first term as 42nd president.
As a Kawananakoa Aliʻi, Jason's band teacher assigned him to play the tuba. He enrolled in summer school to graduate on time. He was still into making comic books and beatboxing.
As a McKinley Tiger, Jason was a two-year letterman in soccer and judo. He was known on the McKinley Tiger judo team as "Spider-Man." He was still into making comic books and beatboxing.
Jason's senior season, he was McKinley Tiger soccer's leading goal scorer, one goal, in regular season play. He was honored the McKinley soccer team's Mr. Hustle Award. In judo, Jason secured 10 point wins for the undefeated McKinley Tiger judo team against the Kailua Surfriders and Kaimuki Bulldogs before the Oʻahu Interscholastic Association's team championship were cancelled due to furlough. Jason also enrolled in summer school and correspondence school to graduate on time. Bill Clinton finished his second term as the 42nd president, and George W. Bush began his first term as the 43rd president.
SEPTEMBER 11TH TWIN TOWERS
2001, the September 11th New York Twin Towers attack indirectly impacted Jason's academic performance in college. He took a two-year break.
In 2002, Jason worked at a furniture warehouse, and he joined Albany Judo Club in Northern California. He earned gold medals at San Jose State University, and City College of San Francisco judo tournaments.
Fast forward in time again to 2004, Jason last joined Shobukan Judo Club and won a third place trophy at a judo tournament at Salt Lake District Park. He then collided with a SUV near Pizza Hut, and Liliha Bakery that left him unconscious. He had just finished practice at Shobukan Judo Club. Driver rendered help and an ambulance team brought Jason to Queen's Medical Center.
Once conscious, Jason reflected upon his life up to that point. Then he began his career profession in entertainment and music as a beatboxer. He returned to college and judo flipped his college academic transcript from a 1.0 to 4.0 grand point average. In 2005, he simultaneously began his career as a mathematics coach.
In 2006, Jason was recipient of the Freeman Foundation Scholarship to study intensive Chinese at Beijing Foreign Studies University. He was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and honored on the University of Hawaiʻi at Kapiʻolani Community College's Dean's List. Jason graduated from KCC in 2007.
Jason then briefly enrolled in music business and audio engineering courses at Belmont University's Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business, and the University of Hawaiʻi at Honolulu Community College. George W. Bush completed his second term as 43rd president. Barack Obama completed two terms as 44th president that followed Donald Trump as the 45th president.
Jason Tom was a four-time KCC Student Talent Show top 6 finalist, Word of Life Emerge Talent Show grand finalist, Pipeline's Got Talent grand finalist, Road to Southby's Battle of the Bands grand finalist, four-time HawaiiSlam First Thursdays top 12 grand slam poet, and top 3 musician of the McDonald's of Hawaiʻi's NextNext statewide music competition. He guest judged the 2019 Brown Bags to Stardom Statewide Grand Finals.
Jason Tom was nominated as one of the top 150 professional vocal percussion artists for the Beatbox Battle World Championship, is a featured musician on a Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award nominated Best Hip Hop and RnB Album, Honolulu Weekly's Best Local Musician Deserving of a Wider Audience! He has been honored the TEDx Honolulu Presenter Award for "Vocal Groove," and Hawaiʻi Scene Choice "Best Solo Performer" Award.
Chaminade Silversword Newspaper named Jason Tom as Hawai’i's King of Beatbox, Jody Kamisato refer him as Hawai’i's Human Beatbox, and basketball coach Allan Silva call him the Human Beatbox Machine! He's presented at the Chevron Speech Festival, Hawai’i Children and Youth Day, and has performed for middle- and high school students on the American Lung Association in Hawaiʻi's Music With A Message tour.
Jason's presented at TEDx Talk Shift Conference and was interviewed by Angela Keen. Jason Tom has opened for Michael Winslow, Jabbawockeez, Quest Crew, Reeps One, and has collaborated live with Tom Thum, Jake Shimabukuro, Kamuela Kahoano, and Makana.
With Prisma Dance, Jason Tom is the beatbox specialty artist for the Creation production, and together they've presented showcases at Ala Moana Centerstage, U.S.VETS, Shriners Hospital, Celebrate Kalihi, and Harvest Celebration at Kalihi Union Church!
“Jason Tom is an incredible talent. If you can make it to his gigs, please do so. He will blow you away. ” — Traci Toguchi
Jason's completed a Now We Collide music project in Sydney, Australia with a to be announced release date.
This Honolulu native has lived coast to coast in Northern California, and New York, and overseas in Beijing, China. Jason enjoys blogging out of the Gathering Place in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi! Visit him online at JasonTom.com, HawaiiBeatbox.com, and JasonTom.org!
by Kamehameha Schools
TEDx Honolulu It's About Time Conference Jason Tom "Vocal Groove"
by TEDx Talks
Jason Tom King of Pop Jam: Michael Jackson Medley
by Hi*Sessions Acoustic Live
Jason Tom Child of the 80s
by Hi*Sessions Acoustic Live
Jason Tom Tic Tac Toe Song
by Hi*Sessions Acoustic Live
Jason Tom Pink Panther
by Hi*Sessions Acoustic Live
Jason Tom from Hawaii
by Beatbox Battle TV
Do What You Love Series: Jason Tom Human Beatbox
by Art And Flea TV
Jason Tom Human Beatbox
by Metromix Honolulu Video Cover Story
Jason Tom RAW
by RAWartists Media
Hawai‘i’s Human Beatbox
by University of Hawaiʻi Alumni
The Freeman Foundation Scholarship - Jason Tom
by University of Hawaiʻi Foundation
Kapiʻolani CC alum stays on beat spreading message of perseverance
by Kapiʻolani Ching, University of Hawaiʻi News
KCC Alumnus Inspires Community Through Beatboxing, Motivational Speaking
by Lexus Yamashiro, Kapiʻo News
by Christina O'Connor, Metro HNL Cover Story
Jason Tom: The Human BeatBox
by Julia Hulme, Millennial Magazine
Timeline, Awards, and Competition Honors
- 1982 | Jason Tom
- 1989 | Earliest music cassette recording of Jason Tom beatboxing "Badder" from Moonwalker VHS
- 2000 | Judo Novice/Open Individual Tournament at Moanalua High School | Result: 2nd Place, Silver Medal, Jason Tom - McKinley Tiger Judo
- 2001 | Oʻahu Interscholastic Association East Boys Varsity Soccer President William McKinley High School Tigers vs. Kaimuki High School Bulldogs | Result: Kaimuki score 2: Jared Shirai, Troy Uemera. McKinley score 1: Jason Tom.
- 2001 | Judo Novice/Open Individual Tournament at Kaiser High School | Result: 3rd Place Ribbon, Jason Tom - McKinley Judo
- 2001 | Oʻahu Interscholastic Association Eastern Division Judo at Moanalua High School: McKinley 85, Kailua 3. 10 point winners: Jason Tom (McK); R. Suehiro (McK).
- 2001 | Oʻahu Interscholastic Association Eastern Division Judo at Roosevelt High School: McKinley 60, Kaimuki 40. Ten point winners: 105- Brian Secetaria (Kaim). 114- Colin Yamaguchi (Kaim). 123- Jason Tom (McK). 132- Scott Sakaguchi (McK). 141- Leo Goshi (McK). 150- Aaron Kim (McK). 180- Ricky Tang (Kaim). 200- Chi Chen (Kaim). 275- Justin Kaapa (McK).
- 2001 | Graduated from President William McKinley High School | High School Diploma
- 2002 | San Jose State University Judo Tournament | Result: 1st Place, Gold Medal, Jason Tom - Albany Judo Club
- 2002 | City College of San Francisco Judo Tournament | Result: 1st Place, Gold Medal, Jason Tom - Albany Judo Club
- 2004 | JUDO State Tournament at Salt Lake District Park | Result: 3rd Place Trophy. Jason Tom - Shobukan Judo Club
- 2004 | SUV collided with Jason Tom on pedestrian crosswalk and intersection near Shobukan Judo Club, Pizza Hut and Liliha Bakery
- Fall 2004 Kapiʻolani Community College Student Talent Show | Result: did not place, solo
- Spring 2005 Kapiʻolani Community College Student Talent Show | Result: did not place ( performed with dancer)
- June 29 to July 5, 2005 | Jason Tom as "spidermon," homage to his judo alias Spider-Man, is AsianAvenue.com's Member of the Week. His MOTW quote, "my inspiration to perform is a passion for creative expression."
- Fall 2005 Kapiʻolani Community College Student Talent Show | Result: did not place (solo)
- Spring 2006 Kapiʻolani Community College Student Talent Show | Result: 3rd Place - $300
- Fall 2006 Kapiʻolani Community College Student Talent Show | Result: 5th Place - $150, solo, 2006 KCC Talent Show Combined Amount: $450
- Spring 2007 Kapiʻolani Community College Student Talent Show | Result: Top 6, 4th Place - $250, solo
- Fall 2007 Kapiʻolani Community College Student Talent Show | Result: 4th Place - $250, solo, 2007 KCC Talent Show Combined Amount: $500
- December 2007 | HawaiiSlam First Thursdays "No Rules" Poetry Slam | Result: 1st Place, $100
- October 2008 | Word of Life Emerge Talent Show Semifinals | Result: 1st Place, advanced for grand final
- January 2009 | Word of Life Emerge Talent Show Grand Finals | Result: 1st Place Runner-Up (2nd Place), $100
- September 2009 | Pipeline's Got Talent Semifinals | Result: 1st Place, Perfect Score, advanced to grand final
- September 2009 | Pipeline's Got Talent Grand Finals | Result: 4th Place
- 2010 | Featured on the "Im Movin On" track of Na Hoku Hanohano Hip Hop and RnB Award Nominated Album "Nobody Owns Me" by artist Faioso
- 2010 | showcased at 6th International Human Beatbox Convention
- 2010 | showcased at 1st Annual American Beatbox Championship
- November 2011 | HawaiiSlam First Thursdays Qualification Poetry Slam | Result: 1st Place, $100, advanced to 2012 HawaiiSlam First Thursdays Grand Slam Finals
- November 4, 2011 | Road to South By Semifinals | Result: Advanced to Grand Final
- November 13, 2011 | Hawaii Scene Choice Awards | Best Solo Performer Winner
- November 18, 2011 | Road to South By Battle of the Bands Grand Final
- December 2011 | HawaiiSlam First Thursdays "No Rules" Poetry Slam | Result: 1st Place, $100
- April 2012 | HawaiiSlam First Thursdays Grand Slam FInals | Result: Top 9 poet
- 2014 | hosted and judged Hawaii Beatbox Battle, Art and Flea Boom Bap
- August 2014 | HawaiiSlam First Thursdays "No Rules" Poetry Slam | Result: 1st Place, $100
- 2014 | showcased at 5th Annual American Beatbox Championship
- 2014 | hosted Hawaii Beatbox Jam
- April 2015 | HawaiiSlam First Thursdays Grand Slam Finals | Result: Top 12 Poet
- May 2015 | Beatbox Battle World Championship | Result: Qualified as top 150 professional vocal percussion artist to represent USA. Not able to attend due to health.
- December 2015 | HawaiiSlam First Thursdays Qualification Poetry Slam | Result: 1st Place (1st round), 2nd Place (2nd round), advanced to HawaiiSlam Grand Slam Final
- April 2016 | HawaiiSlam First Thursdays Grand Slam Finals | Result: Top 12 Poet
- August to October 2016 | McDonald's of Hawaii's NextNext Music Competition and Charity Event | Result: Top 3 musician, $1,000 prize, 6,291 votes for Jason Tom that supported Ronald McDonald House Charity Hawaii
- January 2019 | HawaiiSlam First Thursdays Qualification Poetry Slam; Result: 1st place (first round), 2nd place (second round), advanced to 2019 HawaiiSlam First Thursdays Grand Slam Finals
- April 2019 | HawaiiSlam First Thursdays Grand Slam FInals; Result: Top 12 Poet, $50
- April 2019 | Guest judge for Brown Bags to Stardom Grand Finals
“Jason Tom is a world class talent with a passion for beatboxing. Beyond his incredible talent, Jason is a hard working, creative, loyal and compassionate human being who is clearly an outstanding example of living aloha. He is an inspiration to the world, including myself.”
— Jody Kamisato