The 5 torchbearers for the future of Filipino Hip Hop
Enter SHNTI, kiyo, Hero, O $IDE MAFIA & Peaceful Gemini
Just like its Southeast Asian counterparts, Filipino Hip Hop has a storied history. Having US military bases like Clark Air Base in Angeles City and Subic Bay Naval Base in Olongapo allowed the locals to have direct contact with American servicemen, which in turn, gave them exposure to a new music genre originating from America, Hip Hop.
However, it was not until the 1990s that the country started to properly pay attention to it, resulting in the genre breaking into its mainstream. MCs like the late Francis Magalona, Andrew E., and Gloc-9 were some of the pioneering acts to push this sound that we’ve all now grown to know and love.
Francis Magalona famously dropped his debut album Yo! in 1990, which included the rallying, loud-and-proud to be Filipino track, ‘Mga Kababayan’, which translates to ‘My Countrymen’. Andrew E. also made waves that year, releasing three singles ‘Humanap Ka ng Panget,’ ‘Ize Ba Tayo Dyan?’, and ‘Wag Kang Gamol.’
Then came the undisputed king of Filipino Hip Hop, Gloc-9. He was lauded as a “blacksmith of words and letters, and a true Filipino poet” by none other than Francis Magalona himself, and that’s for a reason. The OG speaks directly from the heart and isn’t afraid to call out social issues either. Gloc 9 started his career via the underground, first with the Gangsta Rap group Death Threat, which most notably dropped a four-time platinum album Kings of Da Underground.
Although the album was released under the Death Threat name, only Gloc-9 and Hi-Jakkk were featured on it. The duo went on to release albums themselves, before eventually going solo. Gloc-9 has also gone on to sign up-and-coming rappers who are currently killing it in the game, such as Flow G and Shanti Dope.
Of course, one cannot forget the likes of apl.de.ap either. Having been born to an American father stationed at the Clark Air Base and a Filipino mother in 1974, he was adopted by an American family in 1988. Then he met will.i.am in the eighth and formed the Black Eyed Peas, and the rest is history.
To touch more on the American and Filipino connection, most recently, the Filipino MC Ez Mil was invited to Dr. Dre’s home studio after Eminem got wind of his prowess as an MC through his track ‘Up Down.’ He’s now signed to them, and has even released a track with Eminem titled ‘Realest’ via Shady Records/Aftermath Records.
Looking at where Filipino Hip Hop exists now in the present, it’s in a place with a strong foundation to build up from, and that’s a credit to those who came before them and the strength of its current stars. What about its future? Well, here are the five MCs LiFTED thinks are carrying the Torch for it.
SHNTI is an MC that everyone should have on their radar. She may be a young face in the Filipino circuit but don’t think for a second that she’s inexperienced with her raps. Her relaxed delivery and buttery flows will capture your attention immediately.
Having first released a single independently back in 2021, SHNTI has gone on to sign with LIAB Studios, a label co-founded by fellow Filipino MC Waiian, releasing a string of singles and EP under it. She’s not afraid to speak out on what’s right either. In 2021, she contributed the track ‘Free’ for the compilation tape titledPasaya Music Album – which advocated support for being pro-choice. SHNTI is repping the next generation of female MCs, there is no doubting that.
When it comes to not boxing yourself to a specific sound or style, kiyo is an MC that sticks out within the bubbling Filipino Hip Hop scene. Whether it’s double-timed raps, smooth and sleek flows, or even delving into the realms of alternative R&B, kiyo has it all in his expansive locker.
Having been doing this since 2019, one could conclude that it’s intentional. kiyo’s versatility as an MC is what makes him the artist that he is, keeping his listeners constantly on their toes, never knowing what sort of sound you’d get from him. However, one thing can be certain, it’ll always be a tasteful offering to indulge in.
O $IDE MAFIA
Who’s representing the streets then? It’s none other than the trio called O $IDE MAFIA. Costa Cashman, Madman Stan, and Gee Exclsv make up the members of the collective, and they are the epitome of boisterous and outrageously in-your-face. O $IDE MAFIA don’t play no games, and they aren’t afraid to be who they are and to say what they have to say.
Their experiences have been shaped by growing up in the streets of Malate, a red-light district in Manila. There’s no place for faking it within their domains, so they are as authentic as authenticity gets. Put on an O $IDE MAFIA track, and their Drillings would rile you up immediately.
If you get a cosign from the King himself, you know you’re doing something right. That’s the case for Hero, an MC who hails from Muntinlupa City is the real deal. In 2021, he teamed up with Gloc-9 for their anthemic collaborative single ‘Pasan’. On it, he doesn’t just take a backseat. Instead, he shines on it, showing everyone just how much he can bring to the game.
There aren’t many who can say that they have a track with Gloc-9 at the age of just 20, but Hero can. He has also gone on to solidify a place for himself within the scene, consistently releasing singles and participating in rap challenges.
Peaceful Gemini is an MC who graciously blends soulfulness with a commanding presence. The young female MC first made her foray into the game in 2018 through an independent single release in ‘Mind, Body & Soul,’ alongside a five-track EP titled Middle of NowHere via Locked Down Entertainment.
Three years later, she signed with Sony Music Entertainment Philippines and hasn’t stopped killing it since. She delivers her bars in a distinct and purposeful tone – that sort of confidence can only stem from a place of confidence in her prowess as an MC. All while her bars tap into her innermost feelings, churning out that soul in full.