If you haven't checked out my writings Metro Manila hip hop, please check it out:
Live and Direct from Manila: Part I
Live and (Deranged) from Manila: Part II
Live and Direct from Manila: Part III: Hip Hop Talaga!
Live and Direct from Manila: Part IV: Mestizaje Talaga!
ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: B-Roc talk
Arists breaking boundaries "Beyond, Beyond"
Stay tuned for more on hip hop in Metro Manila.
Filipino hip hop group Lyrically Deranged Poets. Look out, these young cats fast to catch ya: Abra, far left, Alex to his left, R-jay forefront
Oh this ignorant Fil Am is truly getting schooled. Its been a blessing meeting some very inspirational young folks here in Metro Manila. My journey into Filipino hip hop began with just one blog comment by the the guru himself B-Rocc of Turbulence Productions. Now I've been invited into a whole world that I'm certain few Fil Am hip hop heads know or even care about.
ET of Mass Movement TV was perhaps the first to introduce us to hip hop in the Philippines with his documentary "Sounds of a New Hope". Highlighting hip hop coming from the gang-affiliated youth of Caloocan, it opened many of our eyes to the power of hip hop culture in the Philippines among young people.
Last night I got a small taste of a sample of hip hop here. In the posh and hip Metro Manila district of Eastwood City, young people were dressed up and ready to party. It was the album release party of Young JV, a local artist getting mad love on the airwaves. The scene was just like the Filipino-patronized clubs and bars in Los Angeles or the Bay Area, well except, everyone is much younger (apparently there is no age restrictions in many of the night joints in the Philippines). Circa Bar was packed with Tim'd out hip hop heads and sexy party-goers alike. Right below the DJ (DJ Big Daddy), rappers took turns to rip the mic or beat box. LDP (Lyrically Deranged Poets, here is their MySpace) who are in their teens, and older more seasoned veterans such as Slick n Sly Kane and Mista Blaze shared the stage and showed deep love for the culture.
"Shout out to the world that I'm proud to be Brown!" -Abra of LDP in "Three Years in the Making"
In a metropolis canvased by billboards advertising whitening soaps and pills, where mestizo looks and status are virtually universally privileged, and where a distinct class of people have been ruling the nation's agenda for centuries, it seems that there are few spaces for alternative/resistant modes of racial and class identity. Today, hip hop provides one of these spaces. These rappers seem to be invested in making this way of being into a transformative part of Filipino culture.
I had the privilege of interviewing many of the rappers at the Eastwood City venue. LDP gave good insight to the culture here and expressed optimism that hip hop is only getting bigger. The talented and charismatic R-jay was hospitable and provided an excellent introduction to this particular independent hip hop scene in Metro Manila. Abra provided a tongue-twisting, hurricane-kicking Tagalog rap that'll test Bone Thugs' game. And Alex, a brotha of Nigerian descent, layed down some serious lyricism and gave some interesting perspectives on hip hop culture here and its promises of knowledge and dignity. His devotion to the Philippines is so deep that he even has a tattoo on his right arm proclaiming his Filipino pride.
LDP asks "What If?" in a track on their new album The Project. They pose, "What if there was no hip hop?" Curious question. But the important thing to remember is that there is hip hop, and the energy and commitment of the youth in Metro Manila show that hip hop is such a beautiful thing.