The Spinners

Archive for the ‘Hiphop’ Category

The Master Spinner Raps ♪ Miss Pakipot (Urban Flow, 1996) ♪

In Hiphop, OPM, The Master Spinner Spins, Track Reviews on December 15, 2010 at 5:47 am

Download “Miss Pakipot”

A handful of OPM songs—“Naonseng Delight,” “Never Meant to be this Way,” “Boy,” “Lumayo Ka Man Sa Akin,” “Kapag Tumibok ang Puso,” “Bakit Nga Ba Mahal Kita,” “Tameme” to name a few—were a little ahead of their time when they first came out, but somehow their status as classics was never confirmed. Not that such showbiz shtick is the most important reform to do in local music, but the lack of any institution to proclaim such things, reputable or not, is just a bit disheartening. We have to rely on memory—or on friends’ memories, or quite recently, on #sentisabado tweets—for we have no Lester Bangs, no Robert Christgau, no existing books and magazines to tell us what happened back then. The very few writers we have are not enough, and those very few tend to lose that childish feeling—that delight of innocence—to put into words such experiences.

“Miss Pakipot” belongs to that sorry handful. My memory of it is that, every time I heard it on the radio (and this was in the mid-90s, when every second of our lives depended on radio), I would always swing my hand like a rapper and relish the opening verses: Aaah-aahh, ooohh / CTG kita Miss Miss Pakipot / CTG kita Miss Miss Suplada / CTG kita Miss Miss Maganda / Sa palagay ko mahal na nga kita aaah / Ooooh. Hip-hop, as always, is the genre that gets both the privilege of being looking down on and reaping the most sales. It is where the popular and the critical never fail to meet. The masses don’t get tired of it. In a way, hip-hop is no longer a genre because it encompasses everything. Our cassette player and mini component, both rested in peace, were a testament to that, so as my childhood spoiled by gangsta loving, courtesy of my brother (who once had this sort of group whose idea of enjoyment was throwing pillbox and vandalism).

There are just a limited number of hooks that you can fit into a song to make it work, but with “Miss Pakipot,” you’ll be surprised that the entire song itself is actually this one big hook. The melody goes on and on, the transition an invisible thread that holds the stanzas together, until it reaches the refrain and seals everything. After the intro, the song continues with three more verses before it hits the refrain, all with a similar beat, four lines every stanza, the rhyming scheme AB/AB very much observed. “Miss miss” is repeated for emphasis and tease. Effortless, to say the least, but there’s also that fun in rapping along, how tasty the words are, and how smooth they feel in the tongue. It’s far from forced. Even the Taglish does not get in the way. Take that verse: Okey lang sa akin kung iyong sasabihin / Na ako ay mayabang o mahangin / But I know may chance pa ako / Na makamit ko ang matamis mong “oo” / Ooooh. Notice how clever that hook “oooh” is placed conveniently after “oo”? And how the figure of speech “matamis mong oo” is such a lovely phrase to hear, albeit rarely used now?

It only gets better after the first refrain. Here is the story of a man professing his love to a hard-to-get woman, and he’s talking to her directly, like a confession, a toss between tongue-in-cheek and deadly serious, and there’s a hint of desperation in his voice, disguised in weak-kneed poetry. He tells: What’s the use of beauty kung ikaw ay ganyan / Pati ang puso ko ay nahihirapan / Halos araw-araw kitang inaabangan / Sinusulyapan at napanaginipan. It sounds creepy—stalker much?—but it gets away with it because of the lines that follow: Hindi ka na maaalis sa aking isipan / Para kang si Eba at ako si Adan. And there, the singer starts to compare himself and his muse with the first man and woman, with these two biblical characters, with the origin of sin. How’s that for ego.

In a streak of genius, when you thought it couldn’t get any better, the singer drops the words that every one relates to, the similes that reek of cheese, the sentiment that makes the ending very much deserved: Ang pag-ibig ko sa ‘yo ‘sing bango ng Polo / ‘Sing tamis ng Milo, ‘sing sarap ng Nido / I want you to know ang pag-ibig ko sa ‘yo / Ang pag-ibig ko sa ‘yo sagad hanggang buto / Ooooh. He gets the woman in the end, of course, and I think part of the popularity of the song owes to that, how it builds to that, how it doesn’t feel contrived at all. Although conservatists would cringe at the idea of one-year courtship (And one year fades sa paghihintay / I got her “oo” at malupit n’yang kamay), it only makes it sweeter every listen. A fairytale gangsta romance, ending in happily ever after, sweet and smooth sailing, now isn’t that familiar?

Part of the charm of “Miss Pakipot” is how friendly it is, from the affectionate lyrics to the laid-back rhythm, how it drives home the point just by being honest, and how the three guys from Urban Flow stick to the basics of plain and simple rap, armed with the right kind of chill. It’s rare to come across a rap that you can easily commit to memory. It shatters the excuse that rap needs to be difficult to be unique, something which, with all due respect to Gloc-9, I disagree with. I admire Gloc-9’s music, especially how his songs are politically and socially motivated, but my reservations stem from the fact that I can’t sing them, that I can’t participate, that I can’t annoy my sister with endless CTG kita’s.

Pinoy hiphop, like American hiphop, peaked in the 90s. Francis M was still around. Mastaplann. Death Threat. Pamilia Dimagiba. Andrew E. Kulay. 100,000 Pesos Worth of Karma. Wholesome. The Way of the Plann. Happy Battle. Wanted. Test da Flow. Looking back, all seems well and swell that time. Now it’s so hard to breathe.

– The Master Spinner


♪ Private Diane (Death Threat feat. Francis M and Ely Buendia, 2002) ♪

In Dodo Dayao, Hiphop, OPM, Track Reviews on December 14, 2010 at 9:11 am

Antiwar soapbox, tricked up with urgent banter, monochromatic beats and that dreamy chorus bleeding color and lifting everything up. Trippy hop from the combat zones of life during wartime.

– Dodo Dayao

Blazing Arrow (Blackalicious, 2002)

In American, Dodo Dayao, Hiphop on April 10, 2010 at 11:51 am

Utopians, by nature, have range and imagination and symmetry, so if Blazing Arrow feels a lot less misfit than Nia, it’s in the way the rich, dense sprawl stitches together, vision-wise, and thank the hip-hop gods that Gift of Gab and producer Chief XCel have the ears to make it progressive and focused but never monochromatic and never pretentious. That’s when the Sgt.Pepper parallels start to make sense and don’t seem too far-fetched. Who’d ever thought a Harry Nillson sample could finish up such a funky cause-and-effect on the title track?  And why the hell hasn’t anyone had the will to resurrect Gil Scott Heron, who guest-croons beautifully on “First In Flight”? Drop-ins (Zach De La Rocha, Jaguar Wright, Ben Harper) that work, adventurous rhythms and rhyme upgrade. Utopian possibility was never synonymous with utopian positivity but Gift of Gab’s words make it so, if only by default. Hip-hop humanism now has a new spokesman. 

– Dodo Dayao

♪ Space Odyssey (M.I.A., 2010) ♪

In Ambient, Hiphop, Oliver Ortega, Richard Bolisay, Track Reviews on February 3, 2010 at 4:35 am

It‘s easy to hate the new M.I.A. song “Space Odyssey” because it doesn’t sound like anything from Kala, the album we probably all love. For one, she is singing and not rapping, which is something genuinely unexpected. Perhaps it’s all about that—shattering everybody’s expectations about her upcoming album. They say this new track is a protest song against the New York Times; however, the first bars after the opening siren indicate that it’s more like a lush lamentation over the defeat of the Tamil Tigers last year. Well, we’re wishing that she’d sing something like that, something so contemporary political-wise, but no, this new song is nowhere near about that either. What is clear is that it’s a totally different M.I.A., even if her new sound brings you back to the Atari Age. You’re likely to miss the banging drums in it, but the ambient and moody arrangement of this new slow dubdrive is highly intoxicating.

– Oliver Ortega

All the while I thought it was alluding to Kubrick!

– Richard Bolisay

♪ Imma Be (Black Eyed Peas, 2009) ♪

In American, Dance, Hiphop, Rex Baylon, Track Reviews on January 27, 2010 at 4:43 pm

The Black Eyed Peas, in my opinion, are the epitome of everything wrong with pop music in the 2000’s. Their songs, in the immortal words of William Shakespeare, are full of sound and fury but ultimately signify nothing. Their attempts to be taken seriously as an anti-establishment hiphop act are thwarted by the fact that majority of their songs are sold to the highest bidder to promote whatever hot new merchandise Corporate America is trying to ram down people’s gullets. Although they pride themselves as being a culturally diverse group, the white oversexed female vocalist is really the one getting most of people’s attention while the original multi-ethnic members are reduced to being mere background players. And if that isn’t saying enough, their songs are bland, unimaginative, and pander to the lowest common denominator.

Their latest single “Imma Be” is both derivative and repetitious. Somehow it raises the doubt whether or not the band can call themselves a band if they just rely on drum machine to make all the melodic decisions for them. The song itself celebrates the sort of hiphop posturing that went out of fashion a decade ago, and instead of adding their own unique take on the subject, all The Black Eyed Peas do is offer some cliché lyrics sandwiched between a mind-numbingly unoriginal chorus. The song is reminiscent of a prepubescent fantasy of living the “good life” brought about by MTV and a whole host of other bloodsucking corporate sponsors. Furthermore, I’m conflicted whether I should be angry that a song like this is so popular or sad that many people will go through their entire lives thinking that The Black Eyed Peas are the best thing that the alternative hiphop scene can offer. If you want rap with a different sort of flavor, try listening to Del La Soul, Mos Def, The Roots, M.I.A., or Jurassic 5 and forget the juvenile hiphop affectations of this  overrated quartet.

– Rex Baylon

♪ Where U At (Taeyang, 2009) ♪

In Hiphop, K-Pop, R&B, Thor Balanon, Track Reviews on January 7, 2010 at 9:23 am

“Where U At” is a polished R&B track with a smooth hip-hop coda. A little too polished for me. Radio-friendly at its most predictable—it wouldn’t sound alien in the US Billboard Charts—it is dangerously close to being generic. The quirky breaks or calculated change of pace that oftentimes provide both breathing space and break-it-down bliss feels automated. That is until you see the video and the cool Taeyang we’ve all come to love finally shines through.

– Thor Balanon