Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Artist Spotlight: Mike "Dream" Francisco

Else1 dedicates a sketchbook piece to Dream

A few weekends back I had the privilege of attending the 11th Annual Mighty 4 in Oakland. Representin at the event were Lil John and Vogue 1, two Pinoy dudes I interviewed about 3 years ago at another Mighty 4 event.

Lil John is the brother of Mike Dream. Dream was a Pinoy brother from East Oakland who passed in 2000. Dream had been creating graffiti art since the early 1980s and his style became famous worldwide. The graff game is indebted to his creativity and genious. The hip hop world and socially-conscious folks miss his poignant political messages. This Artist Spotlight is dedicated to Dream, a beloved figure and pioneer in hip hop who stayed loyal to the culture and continues to inspire folks. It would be a huge oversight to not mention Mike Dream when discussing Filipinos in hip hop.

Above are a number of interviews I did for my short documentary, Hip Hop Mestizaje. I created this Mike Dream addendum to the film because so many of my interviewees gave shout outs to Dream as an influential Filipino brother in the hip hop hustle. Here are the interviewees in order of appearance: Geologic (Blue Scholars), Davey D (Davey D's Hip Hop Corner), Paulskee (Mighty 4/Rock Force/Zulu Nation), Basic (The Alias Brothers), Lil John (TDK), and Vogue 1 (TDK). Youtube has an abundance of Mike Dream videos. This one has a good interview with the brotha. And apparently he was supposed to be in a Converse commercial.

To learn more about him, here is an excerpt from Dream's article, "Writing is My Life":



"Writing is my life. I am a graffiti writer. Whatever people say about the terminology, I write. I've been writing since somewhere around '83...

I went through a consciousness phase in the writing, realizing that 'art for art's sake' was weak and that there was power in the message. I began to understand the roots of my own culture. My Filipino heritage taught me about the struggles and sacrifices of my people for equality in this country, opening my eyes to the racism that surrounds our lives, and all of our brothers and sisters of color. My pieces started to have more content and substance..."


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Only in Oakland Pt. 2- Mighty 4 and Estria Graffiti Battle photo essay

The Mighty 4 mastermind hisself, Paulskeee, all Barong Tagaloged out.

And continuing from the prior post, here are some more pics and vids from the 11th Annual Mighty 4 and 3rd Annual Estria Invitational Graffiti Battle, a special event with sights, sounds, and smells--from a bike powered sound-system to vegan soul food--you can only find in Oakland. Yee!

The circle encourages young folks to get down

Nice legs! Props to the folks pedaling for sound. The entire Mighty 4 sound system was literally people powered. What a great idea!

With the theme of "Grow," the Estria Grafitti Battle encouraged some creative, bizarre, and inspiring pieces. The dude Vogue (bottom) takes the crown this year.

Scraper bikes. With the thump powered by a car battery.

Lil' John Francisco and (I think?) Mike Dream's son, commemorating the iconic Mike Dream through his art and memorabilia

Young people keeping skating alive

Mighty 4 one-on-one b-boy battle finalists Kareem and Richie


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Only in Oakland Pt. 1- Mighty 4 and Estria Graffiti Battle photo essay

The legendary Estria being interviewed at the Estria Invitational Graffiti Battle

Only in Oakland, CA can a special event like the Mighty 4 11th Anniversary and the 3rd Annual Estria Invitational Graffiti Battle (and here) happen so beautifully. This past Saturday, October 10, hundreds if not thousands of hip hop and skate enthusiasts of all ages, all colors (but a mostly Black and Brown crowd) enjoyed the lovely East Bay weather at DeFremery Park, and of course partake in some colorful, genuine, 100% hip hop culture. Only in Oakland mayn!

Infinite props to Paulskee (Mighty 4/Rock Force Crew/Zulu Nation) for 11 years of organizing this hip hop institution. And congrats to Miss Paloma aka Papa Lo Down for helping coordinate the Estria Graffiti Battle happening simultaneously. The Pinays/Pinoys definitely represented.

Here's some pics and vids of the event:

Graffiti art surrounds the park, as graff writers compete for the Estria Battle crown

What's a hip hop event without Brazilian capoeira and Pacquiao jackets?

What's a pop battle without a Joey Guila sighting?

Pop battle judges at the bottom left. That's Bionic (John Bayani) of Supreme Soul far left.

Mighty 4 onlookers get down to Zapp and Roger in this spontaneous cipher


Monday, October 12, 2009

In the Cipher of Filipino Funk @ UC Irvine Tue. Oct 13!

Sparkin the cipha session at the 11th Annual Mighty 4 in Oakland

UC Irvine Kababayan Pilipino American History Month Presents:

"In the Cipher of Filipino Funk"
Tuesday, October 13 @ 7:00pm
UC Irvine Campus, Social Sciences Plaza A (SSPA) 1165

Why do Filipinos dominate on MTV's America's Best Dance Crew (ABDC)? Is there a connection between Pilipino Culture Night and ABDC? And, why are Filipinos so into hip hop in the first place? In this interactive PAHM event lead by Mark Villegas, we will incorporate art in order to tackle these questions.

Get ready for some poetry yall! It's goin down!


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sign of the Crossover: Bay Area edition

Congrats to Kularts for a successful first PeliKULa! Film Series show this past Sunday in San Francisco! Big ups to Ninoy Brown/FOBBDeep for holdin it down for me, and to Antonio for doing the damn thang. Thanks for everyone who attended and supported me, Eric, and all the talented filmmakers who participated.

I'll be up in SF this week to present my paper entitled "Sign of the Crossover: Mainstreaming Filipino Liminality" at the San Francisco State University Ethnic Studies Conference on Thursday at 11:00am in Rosa Parks-A.

What's that paper all about? Glad you asked. Looking at Manny Pacquiao and Filipino Americans in reality TV shows, I pose questions concerning a "brown" Asian American. Can Asian America (with all its loaded connotations) ever signify a distinct Filipinoness? Or will Asian American forever be assigned an East Asian (Japanese, Chinese, etc.) register? Can the emerging/insurgent Filipino majority redefine Asianness in the U.S.? Should Filipinos even be considered Asian American?

On another note, 40 years of Ethnic Studies is amazing! No 40 acres, but 40 years don't hurt. Keep on keepin on SFSU! 40 years of alternative, relevant, and resistant education. Word?


Friday, October 2, 2009

Getting down with relief! Philippine storm survivor support opportunities

Let us continue our prayers and thoughts for our fam in the islands who are impacted by the recent storm and flood in Metro Manila. The homey DJ Marlino at Heavy Rotation is helping raise funds for Philippine storm survivors. Buy this party-hardy mix and all proceeds will go to the Philippine National Red Cross.
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Every bit of help counts! I'm sure (I hope) there are many opportunities where you live. Here are a few:

Via SFGate (Thanks Ninoy Brown!):

Bay Area Groups Aide Philippines Flood Victims
(09-29) 21:44 PDT -- Bay Area Filipino organizations coordinating relief efforts in the aftermath of last weekend's typhoon in the Philippines say monetary donations are desperately needed to help flooding victims, followed by medical supplies and food.

The groups have set up drop-off points for donations and set up ways for people to send money to Filipinos suffering after Tropical Storm Ketsana, which hit the northern Philippines on Saturday and caused the country's worst flooding in four decades. CONTINUE READING...


Ondoy Relief Effort: Los Angeles Organizations Will Collect Donations on October 3
"...Alliance for Just and Lasting Peace in the Philippines, People's Core, Kabataang maka-Bayan, the ANSWER Coalition alongside many other Pilipino organizations, have teamed up with Search to Involve Pilipino American to collect the much needed material for the relief efforts. The generous people at Team Pacquiao with there efforts titled "Operation Metro Manila" will take a huge role in the organization of the relief efforts. CONTINUE READING...


Let's not forget about the fam in Samoa, Indonesia, and Vietnam too. It's a tough September/October...