Thursday, July 24, 2008

"The devil is in the details.."

I’ve often complained and shared with my peers how hiphop in the Philippines isn’t as documented as it should be. Nothing we ever do or accomplish is kept in pages enough for people to read, ponder on, refute and debate with. This scene is built on hearsay; he said she said types of comments are thrown to us for us to patch up ourselves. And with no formality of documentation we are left to formulate our own conclusions and draw our own analysis. None of these are certainly wrong; I’m just in a position to actually solidify myself and my peers in the scene which has grown up past record deals, hotel accommodations, bitches and album launches.

This is an attempt to start the documentation of hiphop in the Philippines through my eyes, my label, my friends, my peers, my colleagues and my music. Blogging is the new writer’s haven, and maybe we can reach another breakthrough as a thriving community. My legacy is in my music and relationships I’ve built in my lifetime. And I was from an era when Krazykyle was dope, when independent music was Bomb Azz and/or ILL DEF, when lyricists were developing their skills online, when cellphones were non existent, no Friendsters and my heroes still packed shows and when hiphop was immature. This is me showing you, hiphop is growing up.


Before I delve into my personal issues with the awards, I would like to tell you that this awards ceremony is integral into giving us corporate leverage and in its foundation, recognition for a years work by our peers and competitors alike. An awards ceremony although competitive in nature is and should be a celebration between colleagues and a showcase of sheer class amidst all the hype. An awards celebration is similar to a birthday party, and with this said, before everything else it is for the music, its growth and for the people who love the music. We blow candles for Philippine hiphop every time we induct a person with an award. We shout with each award that hiphop is here to stay and prosper.

Much props to EMPIRE Entertainment for putting together this event through the years. It is a truck load of work, and is all about momentum. EMPIRE has been steadily accompanying the scenes momentum. I will compare the Hiphop Awards to any awards ceremony out there. I bet the Oscars had various problems with their first ten years, gaining credibility and just plain out coordination with the body they had to give awards to, what makes our own awards show an exception?


H-Town is one of the faces behind EMPIRE and no one person can be blamed for anomalies brought by having good intentions. This documentation is not about comparing the past awards to this year, but is about moving forward into next year. I know H-Town personally and sat him down, hats off to all he does. We are all going for the same goal; our approaches might be different though. But as I told Dice before, we are all different people at the end of the day. We don’t agree all the time and these are just realities of being human. I am my own man at the end of the day and I will have a different view on things, but that doesn’t mean we can’t work together. With that said, let me go in detail of what I saw the awards to be.


Now this isn’t directed to the winners, they have been more than well deserving to be nominated but winning is different. Winning is dependent on the integrity, non partiality and credibility of the committee behind the awards. Awards are only as good as the credibility behind the name. The NBA MVP Award is named fittingly to Dr. Naismith, who is the inventor of the game. Remember that this is EMPIRE Entertainment‘s Philippine HIPHOP Awards. Do a background check on every award you get, and how integrated it is to what you really stand for then you’ll know how efficient you’ve become. Let me break down a fact for you which in the process of this article we will go back to. EMPIRE Entertainment is a self proclaimed marketing company, and professes that this is the reason it is even built, for Marketing. What part of marketing gives someone the credibility to host a very fragile awards ceremony for a fragile scene? It might be credible enough to handle the logistics behind it but not the accreditation of each award.

An award giving body is all about making sure each of its factions is heard to make a sound judgment to live up to each of the awards billing. And each awarding body MUST have a committee to overlook the process and it is also their job to be non partial and transparent on the criteria’s. This starts by showing the public who these people are and why they hold these positions in the committee. Preferably get an odd numbered group, like say 9. A DJ, an EMCEE, an event organizer, a celebrity hiphop head, a female fan/artist, a hiphop director/videographer, a hiphop journalist, a hiphop entrepreneur, EMPIRE representative. This is just an initial list it could still vary; an odd numbered group is favorable just so there are no tie votes, in case you need one.

Why a celebrity hiphop head? This gets the attention of a certain part of show business which thinks hiphop in the Philippines is without class. This bridges the gap between classes and shows that a public figure such as a celebrity can hang and get down for the music he/she loves without bias to western favorites. Also as part of marketing the awards, they could bank on this celebrity’s participation without sacrificing intentions.

Why a female artist/fan? So the females can be represented and given a voice and not overlooked despite the male dominated scene.

Why an event organizer? So hiphop gets a different look from these organizers who fail to promote our very own artists but would love to bring in foreign acts and have no clue who could open for them and bridge a connection that can blossom for our homegrown artists. We are basically giving them responsibility to take care of the scene through the field of events.

Why a journalist? So when we pick up a magazine, we could be represented by someone who knows what’s going on and doesn’t ask us the immortal question “What is hiphop?” This gives writers a responsibility to give justice to articles rarely written for hiphop.

Why a hiphop entrepreneur? Because they are directly related to the core market of the awards. And this opens retailing partnerships for EMPIRE and opens merchandising doors exclusive for the awards.


You build a committee that will be together for at least 2 years so there is fluidity to the direction and vision you impart to the public. Some awarding committees have this for 5 years and shuffle them, through a list of a higher organization. This leads me to segue to a topic introduced to me by Nick Hernandez, a hiphop coalition. I will discuss it in depth later on. But in essence, it is about registering artists similar to ASCAP/FILSCAP and is a ruling board to these things, such as having ballots for artists under it to be part of the voting criteria. This organization should be similar to a regulating board which works with EMPIRE for the awards.



What sets us apart should be our creativity and our movement. The scene isn’t CD sales based yet, I doubt it’ll ever be, and the scene isn’t supported by any of these record labels anyway so why have we been giving them ballots for the awards and a chance for them to nominate none other than the artist they have in they’re backyard. Our current state of hiphop is movement based so there are definitely other bigger factors than just the CD sales. I understand that CD sales portray a certain upliftment for an artist but not for the community in general. Why still put an A&R in the committee list? So they could see whether the artists they signed or signing is still integral and relevant to the movement. And so that they could hands on learn what it means to be a struggling hiphop artist in the Philippines.

Here’s a list of awards I would like to see make it:

Album cover of the year – this allows us to showcase a sense of urban art culture that the scene also cultivates. Plus an artwork is the face of an album and is a representation of what the artists stands for during the process of making a masterpiece. Check the difference between Denmarks album and Slapshocks album and you will see the A&R’s don’t respect us enough to give us proper budget into making a dope piece done.

Executive of the year – look into independent labels, managers, event organizers who constantly make a push for hiphop in the rock dominated industry. This shows that we are grateful of the breaks they give us.

Show of the year – an award for a significant show that surpassed and was cutting edge. This would allow everyone to be more creative than just holding open mics around the metro.

Freestyler of the year

Under the radar award of the year – this is an award for MIKE KOSA

The Community award – The Community organizers extends their grasp by awarding a person or group/organization who has been giving back to their community in any form or way, charity or non charity. This shows that we uplift humanity regardless of how hiphop gets bad publicity every time.

Hustle of the year – hiphop micro entrepreneurs with developing businesses in the name of hiphop.

Lyricist of the year/Verse of the year – this should always be drawn in pairs, tagalong and English, to not alienate a dialect that is both Filipino. This award actually means that we value the songs and music and we listen to them as mode of inspiration and not just cause we support our peers.

Radio personality of the year

Live performer of the year – could be a dance group, this could be simply put under the basis of who rocks the crowd most every single time, consistency is key to winning this award.

Mixtape of the year

Some of these awards don’t even need nominees. Give the major awards nominations but these other awards don’t necessary need nominations, and just give the winners a heads up for winning it so they need to show up to the awards. This shows compassion to each and everyone’s contribution in the year that passed.


Winning Artist of the Year means you either won Song of the Year or Album of the year because this is your ticket to the validity of your award. Winning Producer of the Year means you won ALBUMOTY or SONGOTY, because if you don’t then what is it exactly that your produced to win it? These awards are interlinked, so if you see different people win all these awards then know for a fact that it is without bearing.


There is a difference in awarding the hiphop producer, who makes the beats, instrumentation and leads the direction of the album from awarding the other producer, who invests and puts out the product, or a financier. What in hiphop is a producer? Is it DJ Premier? Is it Dr. Dre? Kanye West? Or is it Steve Rifkind, CEO of Loud Records? Is it Eminem for being the man behind 50 Cents direction? Which is it? So people would know their place, which traces me back to having a definite criteria and description for each of the awards. Because if we don’t, then we can see Jigger compete with Dice for producer of the year, we’ll see Krazykyle go up against Don Bigas lets say.

H once argued that putting out a CD actually takes more work than making one, I beg to disagree. If the albums music and direction isn’t done right, then you don’t have a product regardless if your post production plans are fit. And the totality of the award’s night is about the music, so this award should go to the music behind the song not to the person who finances it and overlooks it getting out there. No disrespect, but this is why Executive of the Year could be an option.



You know for a fact by now that these labels don’t know shit about hiphop so why be pawns in their game? Imagine a famous A&R from a major label who, lets say signed GLOC9, and is banking on his vision that Gloc will win it. Imagine Gloc losing, just even once, imagine how A&R’s would feel? Damn, we put our investment on Gloc and he didn’t win? Why? Who is the winner? Some one from the indie scene or a small scale artist which means they will look into that scene for the next Gloc that they might try to invest in. I’m not downplaying Gloc, this is just an example on how we should own our own awards night and not simply let somebody signed win this award cause we are more than a creative bunch.

Look at what I make sense of and not the name of the people here because we are not creating a feud, we are generating debate with the process. If Gloc continues to win every single year it means the scene is one dimensional, it means no one is more creative than Gloc, it means stagnation and it means parallelism to the point of non existence. We are human beings who grow up every single year and even the awards should show this growth. Props to Gloc for winning it every year, wala pa rin sigurong makakatapat dito but then again I challenge everyone to see pass through the award but really bitch slapping an industry who does not have faith in our capacity to think for ourselves.

Then again this will go back to having that committee behind he awards. I am optimistic that H and Empire will capitalize on this and that the awards will regain its credibility. This year’s award, we didn’t see any lifetime achievement awardees which is such an unfortunate thing when we have so much history. Kulay & Death Threat would’ve been possible awardees. I heard Boom and Angel were around during the ceremony, and so was Death Threat. An awards night with no lifetime achievement award means it doesn’t give enough respect to people who paved the way for all of us. It is integral to see the old bridge the new.

The world’s language is results and by god, I have things unresolved too and projects I’ve said that’ll be out by a certain time but hasn’t. We all live in a world when we demand as consumers but can’t understand disappointments of a plan gone wrong. Let’s give H and EMPIRE their breathing space but be guarded as we don’t want another mistake on the awards we all want to prosper.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008