Friday, May 7, 2010

Jerome Smooth on Lyrical Empire and Phil X Fil Am connex

Jerome B. Smooth and Ria enjoy fancy burrito at Tribal Cafe in Historic Filipinotown

Thanks for everyone who supported Lyrical Empire: Hip Hop in Metro Manila world premiere at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival last Sunday! Ya'll showed love, and I want to show love back. I hope everyone enjoyed the series of amazing films.

The Lyrical Empire tour has just begun. San Diego, Washington, D.C., New York, San Francisco...keep a look out...

I had a chance to interview Jerome B. Smooth, who appeared at the festival. Jerome is a DJ personality at Manila's Wave 89.1 and a producer for some of the Philippines' most important hip hop performers. Jerome had a chance to build with Mark Pulido, whose brain is a deep well of knowledge about Filipino American participation in hip hop since the 1970s. Hopefully the connection between Philippine hip hop performers and Fil Ams grows stronger. Let em have it Jerome!

1. What are your thoughts on Lyrical Empire?
The movie serves as an eye-opener as to the struggle of Filipinos involved in Hip Hop in the Philippines. A must see movie which can hopefully be followed up with more in-depth coverage of artists to show how positive Philippine Hip Hop can be.

2. Why do you think it is important for Filipino Americans to know about the hip hop scene in the Philippines?
Filipino Americans should know about the hip hop scene in the Philippines because it can still instill a sense of pride and enlightenment. Our music created by Filipino artists in the motherland is of international quality and it is time for us to be recognized for our skills and talent.

3. Do you think it is important for Fil Ams and Filipinos in the Philippines to connect when it comes to creating hip hop music? How would this be possible?
Connecting Fil Ams and Filipinos in the Philippines should be a priority in creating Hip Hop music as it would give more relevance and importance to both sides of the equation. For example, when a Filipino in the Philippines collaborates with a Fil-Am it gives that Filipino increased stature in the Philippines because of the global connection. When a Fil Am collaborates with a Filipino in the Philippines it helps the Fil Am connect to his or her roots on a deeper level. The easiest and most-cost effective way to do this would be through collaborations via the internet. Just the same as an LA artist might send an instrumental to a NY artist to create a rap verse and the NY artist sends it back, a Fil Am artist can send a beat to a Filipino rapper in the Philippines and then receive the file back to complete the track.

4. What challenges are preventing Fil Ams and Filipinos from connecting?
One challenge preventing this connection is access. Most Fil Am artists don't know of Filipino artists in the Philippines and vice versa. It's almost as if these two artists live in different worlds and the dialogue and knowledge of what the other is doing is relatively non-existent. Networking should take place so that Fil Ams and Filipinos in the Philippines can become aware of each other's work. Another challenge is that there is no face to face connection, which would be the best way to collaborate. Unfortunately, a Filipino in the Philippines may have difficulty in going to the States because of Visa and perhaps monetary issues. It may be more plausible for a Fil Am to go back to the motherland to initiate a collaboration because Visa problems are not really an issue and if Fil Ams can spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars to go to Europe, Hawaii, Vegas or other vacation destinations hopefully they can reconsider and choose to go the Philippines instead.


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