Pinoy Hiphop Legends
Francis M, Andrew E, Lady Dianne, MC Lara, Masta Plann
Death Threat, Micheal V, Denmark, Ghetto Doggs, Kulay
Dyords Javier, Bass Rhyme Posse…
1990s: The Golden Age
Known as the “Golden Age” of Pinoy Hip Hop, the 1990s marked the beginning of many rapid stylistic innovations beginning in 1991 with the establishment of the Disco Mix Club Philippines which was one of the earliest platforms for Philippine DJ mixing battles. Early innovators of the style included DJs Carlo Yalo, Noel Macanaya, Rod “DVS” Torres and Omar Lacap among others.
Following the path set forth by their Bass Rhyme predecessors, the tri-lingual rap group Rapasia released their self-titled debut record in 1991, garnering the hit “Hoy! Tsismosa”. One of the earliest Filipino hip hop groups to embrace such an abstract format, the album’s lyrical content often contained a mixture of various Philippine languages (including Tagalog and Chavacano) along with English. Rapasia’s innovative style would later be built upon years later by other Pinoy rap groups such as Zamboanga‘s Ghost 13. Rapasia’s members included Martin “Bronx” Magalona, brother of Pinoy rap entrepreneur Francis Magalona.
MastaPlann was also another group that did all their music in English. The group had 3 deejays and 2 mcs. The mcs were known as Type (Johnny Luna) and Tracer One (Butch Velez brother of famous actor Vivian Velez). MastaPlann released 3 albums that went multi-platinum. Mastaplann is an all-Filipino Hip Hop group that was formed in 1992 in the Philippines, with original group members Butch Velez aka Tracer One, Johnny Luna aka Type Slickk, Disco Mix Competition DJs Sonny Abad, Noel Macanaya aka DJ MOD, Lopi Guzman aka DJ Lopi, and managed by Jesse Gonzales. Butch and Johnny were balikbayans from the San Fernando Valley near Los Angeles, CA, Sonny a balikbayan from Hercules, CA, near the San Francisco Bay Area and Noel and Lopi native Filipinos. In 1992, Mastaplann was signed by Universal Records, where they released two records; in 1993, their debut eponymous release, and in 1994, The Way of tha Plann. These albums eventually obtained platinum status and are still selling worldwide.
1992 marked a turning point for Pinoy rap with the release of Francis M.’s influential second album, Rap Is Francis M, which is highly regarded as one of the greatest Pinoy Rap albums ever. Ushering in a socially-awoken wave not seen in the Philippine music industry since the heyday of Juan De La Cruz, Sampaguita and 1970s Pinoy rock; Magalona’s tracks dissected the various cultural, social & political problems that plagued his country such as drug addiction in “Mga Praining” (The Addicts), political corruption and instability in “Halalan” (Election) as well as the detrimental effects of a colonial mentalityto Filipino culture in “Tayo’y Mga Pinoy” (We Are Filipinos), the record’s complexity and socially sentient message quickly earned it its classic status and became the standard by which future albums of the genre were to be compared to. Magalona’s enduring contributions to the genre would later be recognized in the All Music Guide to Hip-Hop: The Definitive Guide to Rap and Hip-Hop (2003) published by Backbeat Books; as well as in the U.S.-based hip hop publication The Source (magazine) (May 2004).
Another Filipino hip hop artist who achieved prominence during the 1990s is the formerly Los Angeles-based DJ Andrew E. (born Andrew Espiritu), whose tracks “Humanap Ka Ng Panget” and “Makati Girl” (as done by Norman B. of Bass Rhyme Posse; was the first Pinoy rap track recorded to contain beatboxing) became monster hits in the Philippines, rivaling even Francis M.’s previously untouchable reign on top Pinoy rap’s throne. Prior to landing a recording contract, the rapper had competed in various rap contests around the Philippines; the likes of which also produced Pinoy rap stars Michael V., Denmark and Martin “Bronx” Magalona. Andrew E.’s 1991 hit “Humanap Ka Ng Pangit” (Look For Someone Ugly) was the first to spawn a plethora of response records from other rappers in the country, such as Michael V.’s “Maganda Ang Piliin” (Pick Someone Pretty). The rapper’s ability to combine unique storytelling with raunchy and humorous wordplay laced with catchy beats made Andrew the first of his kind in the genre. He then went on to release a movie entitled Andrew Ford Medina: Huwag Kang Gamol in 1991 which was the first film in the Philippines to include a full-on freestyle battle on screen. By the mid-1990s he had established his own record label, the controversial Dongalo Wreckords, as well as many successful rap groups, including Cebuano rappers The Anthill Mobb, Madd Poets and Bicolano rappers Salbakuta. The former, known for their complex and versatile lyrical ability achieved fame with their debut album Ikatlong Mundo. In 1997, Andrew E. produced and hosted the first Pinoy rap television show, Rap 13. Other popular rap artists and groups included Razzamanazz, Cirkulo Pugantes, El Latino, Mastaplann, Verbal Sativa, Kulay, Legit Misfitz, Pariente, Urban Flow, Sun Valley Crew, and Mega Force Crew (*formerly known as Grand Assault Tribe).
1994 saw the emergence of another rap group, headed by a female balikbayan from New York. The group called 4 East Flava consisted of 3 homegrown rapistas – Von ” Mack” Padua (Who was molded by Martin “the Bronxman” Magalona and now with the group Pinoy Republic), Bernard “P-Slick” Santiago and Paul “Shorty” Navarro- 2 DJs (Dj Edge and Dj Mec) and Jug “Honeyluv” Ramos, hailing from New York and was known as “the rose among the thorns.” They brought out the hit “Check the Hood” (used for a shoe commercial) which was misunderstood as a diss towards MastaPlann.
The same year, going against the wave of radio-friendly rap tracks that dominated at the time, the group Death Threat, founded by rappers Beware and Genezide, released the first Filipino gangsta rap album which told tales of the daily lives and struggles impoverished Filipino youth faced growing up in the slums of Metro Manila’s barrios entitled Gusto Kong Bumaet (I Want To Be Good).
In 1997, the underground Pinoy rap group Pamilia Dimagiba released their groundbreaking album Broke-N-Unsigned on Tenement Records, marking the re-emergence of the conscious emcee in Pinoy rap. A coalition of sorts, Pamilia Dimagiba composed itself of several underground Pinoy rappers and crews such as 8th Messenger, Shadowblyde, Spoon, Murder-1 of Khan’s Assassins and Young Galaxy of Iron Triangleamong others. The raw seven-track, politically minded album was a breath of fresh air at the time; as Pinoy rap during the era had taken a more hardcore, gangster persona. Known for their coarse lyrics, serious subject matter complemented by heavy beats fused within traditional Filipino folk music; the camp’s records by the names of “Duelo”, “Manila’s Finest”, “Reality Hurtz” and “Brainstorming” among others were largely in essence a throwback to the early, nationalistic Francis M. inspired days of the genre.
The widespread popularity of Pinoy rap in and around the islands has resulted in the spawning of a new breed of Pinoy emcees: Junior Rapistas. Far from being a new trend, Jamie “Baby” Magtuto and her 1991 hit single “Eh! Kasi Bata” (‘Cause I’m a Kid) was an early example of Pinoy kiddie rappers. The single was also included in the soundtrack for Jamie’s motion picture debut of the same name released later that year.
The 2000s saw the resurgence of grade school rappers in Filipino Hip Hop. 2005 was a breakthrough for kid rappers in the Philippines as Aikee, through the Madd World/Circulo Pugantes Camp released his debut Ang Bawat Bata (Every Child) on Alpha Music and at eleven years of age, became the youngest Filipino rapper to release a full rap album.
Note: its not a complete list.