After plenty of practice, this talented Maui teen is headed to beatboxing’s ‘biggest battle’

Pono Akiona is carving out a reputation on the national and international beatboxing scene. The...
Pono Akiona is carving out a reputation on the national and international beatboxing scene. The UH Maui College student is heading to the Grand Beatbox Battle in Poland.(Courtesy: Pono Akiona)
Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 4:43 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 20, 2021 at 4:44 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Pono Akiona plays his mouth and vocal cords like musicians play drums. He is an insanely talented beatboxer.

“It’s like speaking or singing, where you can make stuff up on the spot,” he says.

It seems the 19-year-old from Kahului can make a gazillion sounds. He started messing around with vocal percussive noises when he was in high school.

Like every other beatboxer he began with the basics.

“A snare drum, a high-hat, and a kick or a bass drum,” he says.

He embellishes them with other sounds that mimic a bass guitar or a synthesizer. He spices it all up with with rapid fire tongue and lip rolls that sound amazing.

“I’d say the best way to describe it is a form of art,” he said.

Pono goes by the stage name PingPong Po, and he’s taken his abilities to another level.

He’s a two-time national champion in tag-team beatboxing, performing with a beatboxer from New York who goes by the name BizKit.

“We were even better solo beatboxers,” he said. “So we were able to implement more sounds and more techniques.”

Next month, Pono will represent Hawaii at an international beatbox battle.

“The battle in Poland is called the Grand Beatbox Battle. It’s the biggest battle in the world. It’s really huge. If you look it up on YouTube, it has millions of views,” he said.

Back here, he’s on a crusade to promote the vocal art. This year he organized the Hawaii championship.

“It’s slowly but surely starting to spread out and become a bigger community,” he said.

Pono studies business administration at University of Hawaii Maui College. He wants to own a barbershop business when his beatboxing days are done, but that day is a long way off.

“I’ll beatbox until I physically am unable to, or if for some reason I ever lose interest. That would probably be the end of it but I honestly don’t see that happening any time soon,” he said.

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