When international hip-hop hits like Flo Rida’s In The Ayer, Chris Brown’s Forever and Usher’s Moving Mountains were lording over the airwaves July last year, a locally produced song, although sounding akin to hip-hop music produced by major labels abroad brought the local music industry to a standstill.
Me and My Turf from a local hip-hop group One Mic Productionz notched to the number two spot in Baguio’s local FM station 96.7 K-lite’s weekly charts for the next two weeks beating national hits from the likes of Hale, Urbandub and Cueshe.
Their first hit suddenly became part of local hip-hop music history. It became the first local hip-hop single to conquer the FM hit charts not only in Baguio but in nearby provinces.
This, among other accomplishments made One Mic Productionz brave the odds to produce what they call as a proudly Pinoy hip-hop music. Soon, jam packed club gigs, with crowds of students and hip-hop aficionados of the summer capital, were already jamming, raving and thumping to the danceable hits of One Mic.
Invitations to perform in local television shows followed as the group collaborated with hip-hop artists all over the country and the rest of the world.
Back in October 2007, a group of teenagers, stepped out of the norms of college life to come up with hip-hop music that would best express what they really feel – some thoughts angst driven, some thoughts conveying just about anything they want to talk about – like the dilemmas of single fatherhood, bouts with local gangs and articulating ethnic identity.
Barely in their twenties, college students Ceelo, Kaydee, Gambino, Yo!L and Edz came up with an album entitled Louder Than You Expect It to bring their hip-hop music to the mainstream.
With a crisp grungy funk sound, the group composed songs that they would call out of the box hip-hop compared to rap releases by local Pinoy artists.
More than a year later since the group was formed, Kray Etnik, Bskribz and Diño joined the group as they collaborated with the original members with the album entitled Poetry Exemplified.
A mixture of slam poetry inspired by Tupac Shakur, Notorious B.I.G., Mistah Blaze and Eminem, the group mixed eclectic genres of music composed of OPM hits, R&B and Hip-hop to come up with Me and My Turf and Baguio to Tondo songs.
And a few years later, the young teenagers became college students, office workers and single fathers, all with a message to impart to their listeners.
Now, they have already collaborated with Manila-based and international artists including Mistahblaze, Francis M, Mike Kosa and Mike Swift through the internationally released documentary entitled Konektado.
Inside their own music studio with recording equipment coming from each member’s own pocket, they came up with hit tracks that were raved by local hip-hop music lovers and rap groups from Tondo, Valenzuela and Cavite as well as fans listening through the group’s Facebook and Youtube accounts as well as in their official website onemicproductionz.tk.
Hip hop is a musical genre which developed alongside hip hop culture, and is commonly based on concepts of looping, rapping, freestyling, DJing, scratching, sampling and beat-boxing. The music is used to express concerns of political, social, and personal issues.
Former gang member Yo!L said that the way he makes his music was inspired by his life in the streets.
“Before, most of my compositions were angst driven but now, I realized that I can also educate people through music,” Yo!L said.
“We eat, drink and sleep hip-hop and we show it through our music,” Kray Etnik said.
“Before I just copy what I see on the streets, that hip-hop was another fad but I realized that it isn’t, and that it is really a way of life,” Ceelo added.
Ceelo moreover said that he wants their music to be different from other hip-hop and rap artists as he wants to make old songs new again by remixing old hits with new loops to create a funkier sound.
Way of Life
Other members of the group concurred as they all agreed that hip-hop is not just about baggy pants and wearing bling-blings that rappers and hip-hop stars abroad would influence the youth through their music videos and shows.
“Through our music our way of life are shown through the lyrics of our songs like hustling for money by doing odd jobs,” Ceelo confessed.
In addition, Kray Etnik said that being a hip-hop artist really is just a matter of balancing one’s musical career and studies or work.
As one of the pioneering member organization of Baguio Brotherhood for Peace, the group wants to stop discrimination among youth groups because of most notions of hip-hoppers to the public that often equate them to gangs, lewd acts and brawls.
“We are a peace loving group that only aims to show a culture of hip-hop to those who want to embrace it,” Ceelo said.
Yo!L advised young kids especially those interested in hip-hop to delve and immerse themselves to the real hip-hop life by studying it through books and in the internet.
As of now, the group through their independent albums wants to penetrate the national and international music industry by making recording labels realize that there are really talented groups in Baguio.
The problem that the group pointed out was that major labels censor their compositions too much and that gives limitations to their artistic expression.
In the end, the group said that because of this trend, they decided to come up with an indie album that they can market through word of mouth, local gigs and through the internet.
The group is also planning to collaborate with local alternative rock bands to come up with a new sounding album to be released next year.