The Manila hip-hop scene has been around a while. The late great Francis M. may have paved the way for aspiring rappers, but the movement has had a hard time finding its footing.
Thankfully, a renaissance of sorts is brewing. Fliptop, a local rap battle league, is slowly gaining popularity, relying on the internet's power to spread the word.
Though, the mainstream has yet to catch the drift, Fliptop remaining largely an undergrond movement, these rap battles - often held in gritty and grungy bars - are growing more and more notorious. This gang-rush of fame is not due to any outbreak of violence.
Credit the skill level of these wordsmiths, better known as the rap battlers. Plus, these battles are a good venue to have a damn good time.
Of the many MCs who participate in the event, there is one who is people come to witness, for this sizing up, buckling down, and pulverizing his opponents. Gentlemen, meet Loonie. His youtube videos have amassed over 1.3 million hits, surpassing those of his rap battle colleagues.
For Loonie, it’s all about the hip-hop life, that is, a commitment to the rhyme and rhythm of words.
You’ve got such a huge fan base. How’d you get into rap?
I’ve been into rap since the fourth, third grade. I was listening to Naughty by Nature, some local acts like Apocalipsis, Gloc-9. I started writing my own lyrics after I heard Alanis Morissette. She’s my idol. I started making my own mock up album covers that I drew myself. I think that was Grade 6.
In High School, I started performing live: flag ceremonies, school things, stuff like that. Then we joined this contest, in fourth year high school, ‘Rap Public Of The Philippines’ and reached the grand finals. We didn’t win, though. My group mate is Ron Henley, and we were The Stick Figgas.
When we performed during the Rap Public, Francis M. texted me. At first, I didn’t really believe it because anyone can play pranks. Ako na mismo pumunta sa Eat Bulaga, hinanap ko siya, hiningi ko ang number niya, at na-confirm ko nga na gusto kaming kunin. He made us his ‘ hype man.’ I was part of his backup crew during his gigs for six years. Yun, tuloy- tuloy na.
But this battling thing is actually my hobby, it's a side project. I really make music. Like basketball, battle is like the “slam dunk” contest, which is different from the real game, which is writing songs. Dapat ma differentiate din sa mga tao .
What inspires your lyrics?
Real events that happened in my life. My album, from the first song to the last song, it’s all real. No fiction. I don’t do any storytelling.
On Youtube, you have, more or less, the highest number of hits in the local rap scene. Has that changed your performance style?
I don’t think so. First of all, we have self-gratification. But now, I’m studying the business side because I know that there are opportunities that I could reach. But that’s still not the main motivation. My first goal is to impress myself before I let anyone else hear it. So that I won’t have any battle scars.
Next Page: Loonie on the current state of hip-hop
WORDS BY: MICHAELA LOLA ABRERA
PHOTOGRAPHY BY: BERT BAINTO