Francis Durango Magalona (October 4, 1964 – March 6, 2009), also known as FrancisM, Master Rapper, and The Man From Manila, was a prominent Filipino rapper, songwriter, producer, actor, director, and photographer. He is credited as being the first Filipino rapper in the Philippines to successfully crossover to the mainstream. He was also popularly known as the “King of Pinoy Rap” and was considered one of the most idolized, celebrated and influential rappers within the genre.
On in March 6, 2009, it was reported that Francis Magalona died at 12:00 noon that day, due to acute myelogenous leukemia.
“Francis Michael Durango Magalona (October 4, 1964 – March 6, 2009), also known as FrancisM, Master Rapper, The Mouth and The Man From Manila, was a Filipino rapper, entrepreneur, songwriter, producer, actor, director, and photographer. Born in Mandaluyong City, he was the first Filipino rapper in the Philippines to cross over into the mainstream. He was credited for having pioneered the merging of rap with Pinoy rock, becoming a significant influence to artists in that genre as well. He was also a television host on MTV Asia and Channel V Philippines and on noontime variety television show Eat Bulaga! Magalona died seven months after being diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia. Magalona was later awarded a posthumous Presidential Medal of Merit. The award’s citation noted that it had been given “for his musical and artistic brilliance, his deep faith in the Filipino and his sense of national pride that continue to inspire us”
Filipino hip hop and nationalistic rap
In 1990, he released the album Yo!, the first commercially released Filipino rap album. Yo! included several popular singles such as “Mga Kababayan” (Fellow Countrymen), “Gotta Let ‘Cha Know”, “Cold Summer Nights”, and a duet with Pia Arroyo “Loving You” as the only song that Pia recorded. With tracks that featured politically conscious and thought-provoking rhymes in both English and Tagalog, Yo! was a big success and helped catapult Filipino hip hop from underground to mainstream status. It also marked the birth of Makabayang (nationalistic) rap in Filipino hip hop.
In 1992, Francis Magalona released Rap Is FrancisM (1992). With tracks addressing the various cultural and social problems that plagued his country such as drug addiction in “Mga Praning” (Paranoids), political instability in “Halalan” (Elections) as well as the detrimental effects of a colonial mentality in “Tayo’y Mga Pinoy” (We Are Filipinos), the record’s complexity and conscious message quickly earned it its classic status and became the standard by which future albums of the genre were to be compared. This album helped tag Magalona as one of the most politically conscious voices of his generation.
Hardware Syndrome and the merging of rap with Pinoy rock
The release of his third album, Meron akong ano! (I Got Something!) in 1993 marked the beginning of Magalona’s experimentation with Pinoy rock. It also saw the birth of Hardware Syndrome—previously known as Cannabis—the band which would, with Magalona at its helm, introduce the merging of Pinoy Rock and Rap to the Filipino music audience. Members over the years included musicians Carlo Sison, Francis Villanueva, Niño Mesina, Boyet Aquino, Elmer Blancaflor, Noel Mendez, Perf de Castro, Benjie “Bagets” Mendez, Albert Tamayo, DJ Kimozave, DJ Radikal MK, Kenji Marquez, Jack Rufo, and Wendell Garcia.
Magalona was soon cited for excellence in both genres of music. He collaborated with other OPM luminaries such as Joey Ayala, Heber Bartolome of Banyuhay, Ryan Cayabyab, Mike Hanopol of Juan Dela Cruz Band, Michael V., Death Threat, and the band Eraserheads. In the latter part of his career, Magalona worked together with rappers Pikaso, Gloc 9 and the Pinoy rock band Parokya ni Edgar. In 1994, Magalona moved from Octo-Arts EMI Philippines, which had released all of his previous albums, to BMG Records (Pilipinas) Inc. with Musiko Records (is a wholly owned of sub-labels of a BMG Records (Pilipinas) Inc.), the same label as the seminal Pinoy rock group, The Eraserheads.
Freeman was released the following year, 1995, and firmly established Magalona’s legitimacy in the Pinoy rock scene. Tracks like “Three Stars & A Sun”, “Kabataan Para Sa Kinabukasan” (Children For The Future), “Suckin’ on Helium/Kaleidoscope World” would become defining touch-points in Magalona’s body of work. A track titled “Intellectual Property Rights” would sample a speech by then-president Fidel V. Ramos. Intellectual property rights was an issue that would continue to be an important and very personal advocacy for Magalona. “Kaleidoscope World” went on to win 1996 Awit Award for Best Produced Record of the Year, and the 1996 NU 107 Rock Award for Song of the Year. Its music video was directed by the celebrated director/cinematographer Raymond Red
Magalona’s next album,Happy Battle, was released in 1996. The launch for the video-game themed album at the Hard Rock Cafe in Makati was noted by the press for its wide range of influences: aside from fans of Magalona’s music, he had showbiz fans and coworkers from Eat Bulaga!, where he had already started hosting; and two sets of Sony PlayStations with giant screens set up so people could play video games while watching the gig. The album was also notable for a number of significant collaborations: “Unstrung Heroes” with Ely Buendia; “Sapot” (Web) with project band Planet Garapata, which included Raimund Marasigan, Jeng Tan and Mark Lakay, who would later form Sandwich; and “Make Your Move” with pioneer Filipino punk band Betrayed. In keeping with the nationalistic theme in Magalona’s work, 1-800-Ninety-Six was written in celebration of the centennial of the Philippine revolution of 1896. “Rainy” won Best Folk song, and the album itself would become the only album to win Best Rock and Best Rap Album at the Katha Awards.When Magalona was diagnosed with Leukemia, he and his wife Pia would use the album name “Happy Battle” as a reference to his fight against cancer.
Later albums with Sony Music
The 1998 album The Oddventures of Mr. Cool saw a move from the last two albums’ heavy guitar sound and explored mellow, urban-style rapping. It featured the song “Whole Lotta Lovin'”, whose music is a sample of the Eraserheads song “Alapaap” (Heaven).
Later albums with BMG (now with Sony Music) would include Interscholastic (1999) which featured adaptations of various artists’ songs; and Freeman 2 (2001), which would echo many of the themes that had made the first Freeman album so popular. In 2002, his greatest hits album The Best of FrancisM was released by Musiko Records and BMG Records (Pilipinas) Inc. 2004 in turn saw the release of a single titled “Pambihira Ka” (You’re Remarkable).
In 2002, with the assistance of then FUBU Philippines’ management employees Carlo Maniquiz and Nick Tuason, Magalona launched a compilation album of the same name.
Magalona founded his own record company called Red Egg Records, and a production company, Filipino Pictures Inc., where he served as the resident Director. Through his production company, Magalona produced and directed music videos for several bands and solo artists such as Ely Buendia. His work on Sponge Cola‘s “KLSP” won Best Rock Video at the 2006 MYX Video Awards.
Shortly before his death, Magalona collaborated with Ely Buendia and other Filipino artists on an album with the working title The Sickos Project, which was later named as “In Love and War”, and released posthumously. Both Francis M. and Ely Buendia were having health problems at that time. The album’s carrier single is “Higante” (giant) which is about illness and strengths. Its music video was released in September 2009.
In an interview, Ely Buendia described himself as a “ticking timebomb” and Francis Magalona as “on borrowed time.” The album will include a documentary about Ely and Francis, shot by Magalona’s very own production company Filipino Pictures.
Honors and legacy
Magalona would ultimately be cited not just the “King of Philippine rap” but also “The Father of Pinoy Hip Hop”. Magalona’s contributions to the genre have been featured in several international hip hop publications including the All Music Guide to Hip-Hop: The Definitive Guide to Rap and Hip-Hop (2003) published by Backbeat Books; as well as the May 2004 issue of the U.S.-based publication The Source. He was also given the Pioneer Hall of Fame Award by Empire Entertainment at the 1st Annual Philippine Hip-Hop Music Awards in 2005.
Magalona was the recipient of the MTV Pilipinas Video Music Awards Generations Award in 2006 “in recognition of his career that has spanned decades and broken boundaries, and for his music which continues to inspire generations of artists and music fans both here and abroad.” He was the second person so honored, the first having been singer Gary Valenciano at the 2005 rites.
On March 18, 2009, the Philippine Government – through the efforts of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts—recognized Magalona with by awarding him a posthumous Presidential Medal of Merit. The award’s citation noted that it had been given “for his musical and artistic brilliance, his deep faith in the Filipino and his sense of national pride that continue to inspire us.“
Several supporters of Magalona launched an online petition to award him, the Order of National Artist, which is the highest recognition for Philippine artists. However, nominations for the National Artist award will have to be done after three years as nominations for the order are closed. His daughter Maxene has indicated that she intends to continue Magalona’s projects, including his The Sickos Project album with Buendia, and a documentary about his battle with cancer. The young actress stated: “We will coordinate with the people he had been working with, […] I understand that Papa is a big part of history.”
– Source: Wikipedia