Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunday Cipher: Rocky Horror!

Rocky horror!! Happy Halloween! Beware the Aswang, White Lady, Duwende, Manananggal, and all that...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Special Feature: Boogie Brown in Paris Town

Boogie Brown has a new blog on urban youth culture in Paris. Follow Brown down "on the street" in Dans La Rue to discover b-boy, graffiti, fashion, parkour, and street dance culture in the city of love.

Here is a recent entry:

Rep Wear You From


Fashion is undoubtedly one of the core elements of Hip Hop. After all, 1990's hip hoppers practically made the Tommy Hilfiger brand. And where would New Era fitteds be without Jay-Z?

Hip Hop, in every one of its art forms, is all about stylistic expression. It's no surprise then that fashion, as an outward expression of style, is so embraced by the Hip Hop generation to connote culture and identity. It's about reppin' who you are and where you're from.

The glocalized Hip Hop community here in Paris and France puts its own twist on that concept and the outfit trends from the US. Sure, the fitted caps, baggy pants, and fly sneakers remain a staple, but here young people spice up their wardrobes with a smattering of ethnic and religious roots.

World b-boy champ Lilou

At every event I attend, I always feel like I'm at a convening at the UN. In the middle of a cypher, there will be a gleaming turquoise jacket with "ALGERIE" embroidered across the chest. To the left, I'll spot the outline of the African continent colored in bright red, green and yellow, on the front of a sweatshirt. I'll pick out the word "SENEGAL" discreetly wrapped around a friend's wristband. And then of course, my favorite Tee yells out to me, with huge block letters, "I'm Muslim, Don't Panik!" As I observe, I notice that I too am rockin' my favorite Philippines revolution crew-neck...


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sunday Cipher: FlipTop sa Freedom Bar QC

I was able to attend this FlipTop session in Quezon City in July.

Far. Sweaty. Crowded. Bad acoustics. But still passionate about the culture. Philippine hip hop is the real deal, and they are hungry for more.

Check out my entry:
Guerilla Style: FlipTop gives you raw Philippine rap


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Artist Spotlight: Leo roars for the 8X10 Collective

Leo Angelo Bio displays his Erykah Badu rendition

I've been representing Jacksonville, Florida pretty hard for the past few weeks. Here is yet another spotlight on a Jacksonville Pinoy/Pinay artist: the talented Leo Angelo Bio of the 8X10 Collective. We profiled Grace Bio last week, so check that out if you haven't already. I encourage all Filipino Americans to explore the hidden pockets of Filipino talent across the country.

Here we go!

When and why did you get into painting?

I got into painting when I was 8 years old reading X-men and Kung Fu comics. My favorite illustrators are Bill Sienkiewicz, Kent Williams, who made beautiful water color paintings of Marvel characters, and Tony Wong of Jademan comics. They were all major influences. During my teens, graffiti had a major impact on my style.

Why do you believe painting is the best way for you to express yourself?

Painting is a force which is drawn from your soul, your Devine self. Painting and drawing is a spiritual act, as any Art is. Color, shape and form interpreted by imagination: the illusion provokes thought into the viewer.

What inspires your work?

The Creator’s creation creates my creativity. I’m drawn to truth, beauty, and God. I wish the viewer to understand an artist's mind.

Describe the graphic art scene in Jacksonville. How does it compare to other scenes you are familiar with?

The art scene in Jacksonville is a growing, long over-due young scene. I am just now getting into the emergence of the scene. I have been performing live art in various venues around town with my sister, Grace. The thing about Jacksonville is, it loves art but doesn’t like artists. There a lot dope artists in Duval that hardly get shine. A big city like Jacksonville should embrace art more, because we are the soul and future of the city. The Filipino community should embrace their youth and their creativity, because without it - they will fall into negative stereotypes, which destroys representation our people.

At the 2nd Annual Filipino Pride Day in Jacksonville, Florida

Describe your experience at Filipino Pride Day. How was your reception by the festival goers?

I had a good time, but expected more. As a Non-Filipino, I would have liked to learn more about the history and culture. I was looking to see more political activism and social awareness about my country - the two things Filipinos ignore here in the U.S. I have to say, I was saddened that people were wearing Pinoy pride shirts but didn't know who I was painting (Ninoy Aquino). But, it was good time to reveal The 8X10 Collective to Jacksonville and the world!

93 Til... Souls of Mischief

Who shot ya!

What is your favorite hip hop album, and why?

I have been into hip hop since 1986 so it’s hard to have one favorite album. De La Soul’s “Buhloon Mindstate” and Digable Planet’s “Blowout Comb” would have to be my top two. Both albums got dope samples, hard-hitting beats with a jazzy feelin'. Both albums exemplify the highest creative potential in Hip Hop. Both albums you can rock all day, every day!


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sunday Cipher reps the Empire!

Ok, gotta delay diggin for youtube gems so I can plug another screening opportunity for my documentary Lyrical Empire: Hip Hop in Metro Manila at the 11th Annual San Diego Asian Film Festival.

Lyrical Empire is featured in the He(art) of the Matter SDAFF festival program this coming Sunday, October 24 at 4:45pm.

This documentary is slowly making its film festival rounds. I hope to bring it to Manila soon. Since we're in San Diego, I will not refuse any offers of carne asada fries.

Marquiss and Chrizo for the radio heads (Photo: Bong Andres)

Lyrical Empire: Hip Hop in Metro Manila trailer from Mark V on Vimeo.

You can read more about my experience with a few of the Metro Manila hip hop heads in my article for Evil Monito magazine.*

Lyrical Empire: Metro Manila Emcees Overcome Challenges in a Multilingual Nation

Ridin’ out in Metro Manila

On a drizzly, humid July afternoon I squeeze into an overflowing train headed for Las PiƱas, a city in southern Metro Manila. I hop from the train onto the Philippines’ most ubiquitous forms of transportation, the jeepney, a functioning relic of the United States military ostentatiously stylized with distinct Filipino flavor—bright paint, shiny chrome, and customized body kits. Like the other commuters, I cover my mouth and nose with a handkerchief as we battle the Metro’s pollution and traffic.

I am on my way to interview the Turbulence Productions crew, a small, independent group of emcees, beat producers, and entrepreneurs who rank as one of the most respected hip hop crews in the Philippines.

As someone who has been immersed in hip hop and who documents Filipino American involvement in the cultural cipher, I, like many other Filipino Americans, carried my own biases about hip hop in the Philippines. I believed because the Philippines is a poor country whose people are obsessed with mimicking catchy American pop songs, the quality of hip hop in the country must be sub-par.

I had it all twisted. CONTINUE READING...

*I meant Philippine presidential-candidate Ninoy Aquino. Thanks Eric Tandoc for the heads up.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Artist Spotlight: Amazing Grace of 8X10 Collective

When and why did you get into painting?

I started drawing when I was a child. My sister told me I knew how to write my name in cursive, then started drawing everywhere around the house. Fast-forward to when I was around 5-7 years old, I walked into my brother Leo's room rockin' a graffiti piece. That experience alone influenced me to keep flowin' with Art.

"Flutist Dreams"

Why do you believe painting is the best way for you to express yourself?

Any expression of the soul is communication from God to the world. We are His conduits. Its just up to the person on how they convey that energy to the world. Making Art for me is what I know best. Its what resonates within me & flows out of me. Its like breath. If I don't share it, I feel as if I am not allowing humanity to feel what it's like to be truly alive. To not do it, I feel as if I am dying.

"Ode to Hip Hip"

What inspires your work?

God, my brother, my sister Gigi & my boyfriend Dorian "DENZITY" Lopez will always be my inspiration. Knowing God created everything in the universe as well as humanity me always leaves me in awe. If people only knew how complex we are, as well as how infinite the universe is, they would think and live differently. On behalf of my brother & sister- they have raised me to be the artist I am today. They taught me techniques, introduced me to various dope artists, bumped amazing music, overall- enlightened me. Lastly, my boyfriend's encouragement pushes me to do the impossible. His faith in me makes me want to do my best in everything I do as well as break through any boundaries that get in my way! Having them in my life keeps me moving!

Mika, Monica Monet & Troy with Grace's "Afrocentrizm" piece, done live in support of Blak.Woman.Dynamik (the play) & Monica Monet @ Mr. Q's Funk Jazz Cafe

Describe the graphic art scene in Jacksonville. How does it compare to other scenes you are familiar with?

From my experience working in the art scene, I found myself exhausting myself to redundancy. I became a "Yes Man" to every opportunity to show my work all over town, but haven't gained much from it. I have my crew of friends/supporters, as well as a lot of compliments from various peoples, but I felt as if I became a bird in a cage. For a local artist, there is no problem getting your work up in a venue & getting some publicity. The problem is most artists get support from their closest friends/fans, but it hardly goes outside of that circle- nevertheless, outside of Jacksonville. I've met & know of a lot of talented cats & find a lot of them getting frustrated in Jacksonville, until they move or experience scenes in other areas. It still has room to improve, but the people need to join together to help its progression.

In comparison to NYC, the hustle is harder, everything is flavorful, there are a lot of interesting cats to mingle with & you have the world as your oyster. From my experience hanging out with my sister in Brooklyn, I noticed her circle of friends are all amazing artists that all genuinely love & support one another. When they do events, they rock it solo or together, get mad support from their crews & from people that are interested in what they have to offer to the world. They usually have dope advertising and lots of press from the event itself.

What brought you to Brooklyn?

I've been making numerous trips to
NYC since 2005. Recently, I went there for this event "Meeting of Styles" at 5 Pointz held on Sept. 10-12. A mutual friend of my family & crew, Reskew, received confirmation from Meres (owner of 5 Pointz) to do a wall for the event. So me, my brother, friend & boyfriend decided to drive up from Jacksonville. We all stayed together for a week, but I stayed another week to hang out with my sister. It was an inspiring trip that I'll never forget! Check out the video below. This is one of the things we did while we were there:

Live art action at Filipino Pride Day

Describe your experience at the 2nd Annual Filipino Pride Day in Jacksonville, Florida. How did you get involved with the festival? How was your reception by the festival goers?

My main focus was to represent my people and to enlighten them with history of the Philippines. I was also excited to have my crew, THE 8X10 COLLECTIVE (me, my brother & sister) in one show. Knowing that our first show was at a Filipino festival made us all very proud! My experience there was an enriching one. I was happy to share our gifts to our people as well as remind them where we stand as a people. Painting alongside my brother (I painted Corazon Aquino, he painted Ninoy Aquino), we attracted a lot of attention from people passing by. Some stayed throughout the entire performance to see our progress. We also had dope tunes blastin', incense burnin', good energy, as well as having my boyfriend, friends & family come support.

I actually got involved with the festival through Audrey Aviles (a family friend) & hooked up with the show by Angel Dendam. We thank them for everything they have done! It was an absolute success!

"Paths of Rhythm"

What is your favorite hip hop album, and why?

My musical tastes are very broad, but I would have to say my staple Hip-Hop album would be The Roots "illadelph halflife", simply because that was the first hip-hop album I heard. I remember vividly diggin' through my brother's music collection when I was in 5th Grade & pullin' out this album. I jammed out to it for a long minute. This album changed my overall being since then! Also, Digable Planets "Blowout Comb" How could you NOT love that album? I find my ass still boppin' my head to that sh*t! That album is super dopeness at its finest and will never get old!


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday Cipher is Supa Dynamite!

Can you guess the song they sampled and the new hip hop song that made that sample famous? The AB's (formerly Asamov) did it first. J-Ville represent.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Artist Spotlight: Hugsby aka Francis Vida rises to the top

A few weekends ago, the Filipino community in Jacksonville, Florida celebrated their 2nd Annual Filipino Pride Day, a festival full of food, fashion, dance, art, and stage talent. To no one's surprise, the event was full of hip hop culture. For those concerned about hip hop being "dead" in the younger (and very young) generation, I'm happy to announce that hip hop lives!

In a medium metropolitan city like Jacksonville, hip hop's livelihood has always bubbled but has never gotten the "mainstream" attention, except for maybe the booty bass groups 95 South and the 69 Boyz (holla if I'm blanking on any other notable J-Ville acts). Regardless, hip hop has been produced by the multiracial dwellers of this military town. Maybe the inattention makes for hungrier, creative and unique expressions (the SF Bay Area is another case, although spilling into the mainstream intermittently).

I had a chance to catch up with Francis "Hugsby" Vida, a young Filipino American street dancer/b-boy who testifies to the "underground" nature of hip hop in J-Ville. He is also a witness to the ways in which Filipino Americans have for a while been a central part to the hip hop scene in the city.

Why do they call you "Hugsby"?

The story to my "Hugsby" nickname is really lame unfortunately. In high school, my friends were doing a research project, and one of the main people in their project was named "Francis Hugsby". And so they would call me that jokingly, and I guess it stuck. Great story right? I'll come up with a much better one one day.

When did you get involved with street dance?

I got involved in dance when I was pretty young. My first inspiration for dancing was, without a doubt, Michael Jackson. I would literally turn on the TV every day and keep the channel on VH1 (they showed much more music videos than any other channel back when I was growing up) just incase a Michael Jackson video came on. Then I started getting into b-boying. The reason being, is because there was a youth group called Youth for Christ that a lot of my older friends were a part of. All these guys ever did was bboy, and when I was younger, I really wanted to get into it to be cool with the older guys. I got some props for being probably the only 12-year old out there doing windmills at the time, but eventually the bboying phase went away.

Who inspires you dance-wise?

There's a lot of artists and dancers who come to mind when I think of who really inspires me. On a broad scale, I'd say Chris Brown is unmatched in the mainstream with his dance talent. He doesn't move like anyone else, and his moves are always explosive and unique. On a choreography standpoint, I'd say that Brian Puspos from So Real Cru/The Architeks is probably my idol. The reason why is because I feel like our personalities are real similar, and he isn't scared to show his goofy/humorous side in his pieces. And from a raw, bboying perspective, without a doubt, I'd say Bboy Kid David is my all time favorite. His style, musicality, work ethic, philosophy on the dance--EVERYTHING about the kid is inspiring. A dancer like Kid David, in my opinion, is THE RAWEST form of someone who genuinely created their own style and is using it to smoke cats in battles.

CDLC are a crowd favorite at Jacksonville's 2nd Annual Filipino Pride Day

How did you meet you crew, Creme de la Creme?

I met Creme de la Creme (CDLC) at the beginning of 2008 when it was formed. At the time, an acquaintance of mine, Elvis Mangune, was calling a few people up to ask if we wanted to join a group to compete at Tampa's annual Philfest. During our first competition (**cough cough** which we won), CDLC consisted of 14 members. Because life happens, only six of us remain from the original 14 members: Elvis Mangune, Mike Confiado, Shelley Torio, Sharon Torio, Mariel Manalo, and myself. We've picked up a few new members in the past year or so who have done several performances with us even up until this day. Throughout the years, CDLC has become a lot more of a family than a dance crew, and I've always believed that we're friends first, and dancers second.

Where do yall perform, and for who?

2010 was probably the busiest year CDLC has ever seen. We've travelled all around Florida, from Tampa, to Tallahassee, Gainesville numerous amount of times, and even to Atlanta. Our performances are mostly FSA (Filipino Student Association) affiliated because we have strong connections with a lot of the officers and event organizers from different Universities around Florida, but we've also performed at parties and fundraisers as well. We were also lucky enough to be requested as back-up dancers for Toni Gonzaga in August, a famous artist from the Philippines.

Describe the dance and hip hop scene in Jacksonville. How do you think it compares to other places around the nation you might be familiar with?

The dance and hip-hop scene in Jacksonville is REAL underground. You have to really dig to find real hip-hop. I would say that the only time I really see TRUE hip-hop heads are at bboy jams. As far as dancing goes, I'd also say that Jacksonville is still pretty young in the choreography scene. The b-boys have their own community, and I've seen it grow tremendously. I remember when there was only Main Ingreedyantz, and now I'm not surprised when I see a dozen cats I've never seen before training in an empty racquetball court. In comparison to other cities around the nation, I'd say Jacksonville has no where near the biggest hip-hop scene, but it's definitely there.

Francis displays the championship belt prize at stake in the First Annual Hip Hop Competition at Filipino Pride Day. The Systematics crew danced their way to victory to win the coveted belt.

Why did you decide to emcee for Filipino Pride Day? Why is it important to you?

I emceed for Filipino Pride Day because I was asked by Francis "Doscat" Namocatcat. I've had experience emceeing big events before, but nothing NEARLY as big as FPD. I was kinda nervous at first, but the crowd was extremely responsive, so it made the job a lot easier. It was important to me because, though I can't speak tagalog fluently, I want the younger Filipinos to know how important their culture is. So many of us here in the states are "Americanized" and I wanted to show the younger generation who grew up like me that it's okay that you don't speak the language, but it shouldn't stop you from embracing your roots. You can't know where you're going if you don't know where you came from.

What are your next steps for CDLC or for yourself in terms of dance?

Creme De La Creme will be competing/performing at Def Talent Jam in Gainesville the first weekend of November. We've also been asked to do some private performances, and we have a lot in store for 2011. As for myself, dancing is just something I do because it's fun. I dance to express, not to impress. I'll definitely be sticking with CDLC for as long as my life will let me, and in the mean time, I may be brushing up on some power moves.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunday Cipher: Pint-Size Terror

Ya'll needa step up yo game! Lil Demon (Angelo Baligad) be killin it.