Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday Cipher: All we need is love!

Quest makes Original Pinoy Music (OPM) a very lovely affair. "Back To Love" is a chart-topping hit in the Philippines and stands as a shining example of the promise of success for Philippine artists who don't rely on cover music. And Quest utilizes Philippine hip hop artists, which is a brilliant way to expose listeners to talented Philippine emcees while they listen to R&B sounds.

"Back To Love" has been making waves recently. Check out Soulfiesta's entry on the topic. Continue to show OPM love (especially you Fil Ams!!)!

On another note, Jacksonville's 2nd Annual Filipino Pride Day was a huge success! Will post pictures and thoughts a bit later...


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday Cipher: Fil Ams and their Festivals!

What would the Southern California Fil Am community be without the Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture (FPAC)? Here are some photos I took dedicated to the largest and longest-running multigenerational, pro-artist gathering of Fil Ams in the area. And if you're in San Diego, make sure to check out FilAmFest on Saturday, October 2nd.

Stuter causing trouble with his irreverent and provocative social critiques!

Bambu holding nothin back at his last FPAC performance.

The historic dearth of Filipino entrepreneurship only means we're hungrier and reaching higher. Support your local Filipino-owned businesses! Visit Buy Pinoy now!

Cool it down.

The Filipino food truck craze taking over FPAC! So delicious!

If you're in Florida on on Saturday, Sep. 25th, be sure to check out the 2nd Annual Filipino Pride Day! I will be displaying an exhibit on Filipinos in hip hop! How will this new community space in a region traditionally devoid of Filipino resources impact Fil Ams in the South? (My review of last year here.)

Hip hop tinikling at the 1st Annual Filipino Pride Day in Jacksonville, Florida (Courtesy Jeff Enriquez)


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Colonial Funk! Bruno Mars in this universe!

Bruno Mars as La Bomba 2.0 at MTV's Video Music Awards last week

B.o.B. cuts it up with Mars on "Nothing on You" video

The islands are erupting on the American continent again! And Bruno Mars is surfing forward on a wave of magma. This Pinoy/Puerto Rican brutha from Hawai'i is dominating the airwaves, his hooks on B.o.B.'s "Nothing on You", Travie McCoy's "Billionaire"(two songs that were BOMBING the airwaves in Manila over the summer), and his own hit "Just the Way You Are" are infecting the world's eardrums (two at a time...mostly).

As you know, here at Hip Hop Lives we are preoccupied with Puerto Rico (see here: perreo, cuchifritos, lumidee, freestyle, wild style). And, Bruno embodies all the trappings of an island peripheral subject who is taking center stage. As a Puerto Rican/Filipino who grew up in Hawai'i, his mestizaje symbolicalizes the "inside yet outside" positionality of the United States' colonies/island states (the "American Tropics" as Allan Isaac would have it).

And when those peripheries somehow become mainstream (as in the Justice Sotomayor debates or in Obama's Hawai'i birthplace controversies), the obscured history of American imperialism winks into the consciousness of popular discourse (if ever so gently). But the "forgetting" of American island-trysting wasn't always the case in U.S. history. During the early 20th century, the U.S. congress debated on making the Philippines a state, and of course, the debate on Puerto Rican statehood persists. We know Hawai'i succeeded in becoming the 50th state in 1959. The Insular Cases in the early 20th century, in which the U.S. Supreme Court tried to rationalize the legal status of its island colonial subjects, gesture to the difficulty in making sense of people who occupy an "inside yet outside" status (or, to put in the jargon of the court justices: "foreign in a domestic sense").

Now if Bruno Mars plays basketball, that would be some crazy shit, given the Filipinos' ravenous appetite for b-ball and 2004 Puerto Rican Olympic team's slaying of the "giant in the north." (wuddup Hawai'i! got game?)

Mars, aka Peter Hernandez, has really white teeth. I think I'mma catch a case of insular!

In addition to Bruno's symbolic indexing of U.S. island colonialism (to note: I wonder if his family is affiliated with the U.S. military?), his musical success as a mestizo comments on Asian American illegibility in U.S. popular music. Basically, it doesn't hurt to kind of look like Ritchie Valens and Lou Diamond Phillips in the industry game. And in a double-whammy, if a Filipino looks more East Asian, they must perform (however reluctantly or eagerly) as a Chinese or Japanese character (who are more identifiable).

Is the Filipino mestizo the gateway for Filipino legibility into mainstream popular cultural recognition? It's worked for Brooke Burke, Nicole Scherzinger, Lou Diamond Phillips, and, who each represent their Filipinoness in their own way. Once we get over this mestizo requirement then maybe someone can finally get the homegirl Happy Slip on SNL so the world can love her...just the way she are.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sunday Cipher: Love the Game

Coach Spoelstra gets inspired by his roots: "Lebron, gusto ko ng isang championship ring."

Photo taken by me. Cavite athletes got soles for the game.

Basketball in the Philippines? The Philippine Basketball Association is the second-oldest professional league, next to the NBA? Rafe Bartholomew lays it all out in this brand new, entertaining, and well-informed book.

Benito Vergara, the "Wily Filipino," despite his b-ball maladroitness, testifies to the broad significance of Bartholomew's writings. The book goes beyond basketball and seeps into the most intimate Filipino ways of living-- whether shown in politrickin loyalties, cultural idiosyncracies, or otherwise.

Here is an excerpt from Pacific Rims on one way Filipinos mastered the sport in their own way:

"Well, Filipinos have turned the circus layup into an art form. While many Filipino players are graceful leapers with hang time to spare, when they're five-foot-six, even great hops aren't enough to dunk. So the body-twisting, triple-clutching, no-look, seemingly impossible layup has replaced the dunk as the measuring stick of basketball artistry. Even in semipro and professional games, players will execute these tricky moves when there are no defenders around, just to please the crowd."

The NBA is probably the most visible pronouncement of Black life (masculine at that) for Filipinos, with hip hop being a second popular site. In a region where skin-lightening is an unquestioned practice (even for men), the rabid love for the (very Black) NBA comes at a curious intersection. (Hey, the Philippines and U.S. don't seem to be too different after all!) The veteran Philippine hip hop group the Legit Misfitz combine the two cultural resources of b-ball and hip hop in their famous song "Air Tsinelas." Rock dem flip-flops and pull off dem trick shots!

Speaking of basketball and hip hop in the Philippines, here's a clip of Masta Plann's fashionable influence on the PBA, which I've shown you before. Shaved heads not just for the ex-cons no mo!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Reminder: FPAC this Weekend x Beatrock Artists Kollective

The 19th Annual Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture is this weekend in San Pedro! Here are some classic FPAC x FilAm Funk connex:

This year's FPAC welcomes the
Beatrock Artists Kollective, a conglomeration of local artists who have come together to showcase their work and invite you to participate in a community art piece. Here is their description:

Beatrock Artists Kollective is honored to be part of this year's FPAC. We will be showcasing our work at the PAN (Pilipino Artist Network) Pavillion alongside with other talented visual artists, writers, and musicians.

The Artists Kollective will be painting live a huge mural-sized piece dedicating to this year's FPAC theme "One Heartbeat/Shared Being."

The Artists Kollective will also be facilitating a the painting of a community art piece; festival participants are welcome to pick up a paint brush and help paint several pre-planned canvases.
Artwork and prints are available for purchase at the PAN Pavilion.


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sunday Cipher: Fresh Bambu and Nomi videos!

Bambu and the Chace Infinite drop science to civilize you in "Paper Thin," the opening track in Bambu's EP Paper Cuts

Paper Thin - Bambu feat. Chace Infinite from LightWork Media on Vimeo.

Nomi brings you to church in "Artofficialfreedom," one of many bangin tracks in Power Struggles new album Remittances

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture 2010- quick glimpse

FilAmARTS presents the 19th Annual Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture in San Pedro, California on September 11-12, 2010. As always, there will be an exciting line-up of artists, including an audacious collection of hip hop performers. And this year, Rex Navarette returns again with a fresh cache of side-splitters!

Below is a modest sample of the artists you'll be seeing. This doesn't even include the conglomeration of street dancers who always be wreckin that stage!

Hopie Spitshard aka the Diamond Dame is "kind of a, kind of a big deal" at FPAC!

The mysterious and magical Mista Cookie Jar appears before your eyes on the Saturday of FPAC

Rocky Rivera aka EyeASage gets grimy on the Main Stage

Flow Ethic's principle is to rock you right

Rex Navarette makes the sacred pilgrimage to FPAC once again! ("Pack dat sheet, pack dat sheet!")