One of the most interesting things I’ve learned in my nearly one year of overseeing the editorial direction for HipHopDX Asia is how each country and its diverse cultures adopted Western-born hip hop.
What struck me the most—and perhaps unsurprisingly—through many conversations and exploring different scenes is seeing hip hop’s individualism manifest in how artists present themselves through their music. The difference with how Asian hip hop artists practice self-reliance compared to their more commercialized, radio-friendly contemporaries, while not often by choice, is largely supported by fiercely dedicated hip hop communities driven not by profit but a way of living.
That is not to say fiscal sustainability is out of the question. The young blood, especially, know how to make (and spend) coin. One only has to check out Thailand’s independent rap scene and the 20-something viral rap stars running the game, both in influence and growing wealth. And a lot of them are barely on Spotify.
When it comes to the Philippines, its thriving hip hop scene remains largely underground. Even its most profitable stars are rarely afforded the same opportunities and visibility to reach rock-star status (or “brand-unfriendly” as rapper-producer Calix puts it), if not for the savviness of its artists and practitioners to wield technology in their favor. Still, the gaps remain fundamentally swayed by resource-rich institutional influence.
Author, journalist, and activist Bakari Kitwana discussed the challenge of rap music even as its presence became increasingly pervasive and deeply entrenched in the mainstream. He wrote in his 2002 book, The Hip Hop Generation, that “rap music has done more than one entity to help our generation forge a distinct identity” and how its influence in setting the tone for Black youth is akin to the mainstream media establishing parameters for discussion on a national scale.
UPRISING, one of the longest-running and most active hip hop labels in the country founded by Anygma, the same man behind FlipTop (which just broke the 2-billion view threshold on YouTube, a no easy feat), is home to many seasoned battle emcees, producers, DJs, and other hip hop practitioners who have not only publicly articulated but also fortified hip hop’s fundamental message of people power: unfiltered, unencumbered.
To celebrate UPRISING’s eighth anniversary, here’s a complete list of the entire label’s discography so far. UPRISING has been consistently releasing new albums every year, with more albums to be released in the remainder of 2021, Anygma said on Facebook.
KJah – Sa Gitna ng Prusisyon (2013)
Translates to ‘In The Middle of Procession’
Bambu – 5AM in Manila EP (2013)
Arbie Won – United Freestyles Vol. 3 (2015)
Zaito – Ganti ng Patay (2015)
Translates to ‘Revenge of the Dead’
BLKD x UMPH – Gatilyo (2015)
Translates to ‘Trigger’
Emar Industriya – Industriyalismo (2016)
Illustrado – Illustrado (2017)
KJah – Kamao ng Kankaloo EP (2017)
Translates to ‘Fist of Kankaloo’ (Kankaloo
Apoc – Loob ng Kabaong (2017)
Translates to ‘Inside the Coffin’
Serenata – For My Daydream Dalliance (2017)
Plazma – The Impaler (2017)
Tweng – Proyektong Sikmahi (2017)
KJah – Ang Gantimpalang Idinaan sa Wika (2015)
Translates to ‘A Reward By Way of Language’
Kemikal Ali x Arbie Won – Bukas Uulan ng mga Bara (2018)
Translates to ‘Tomorrow, It’ll Rain Bars’
Kregga – Karo’Mata Epe (2018)
Dhictah x KMG – Lalim at Karimlan (2018)
Translates to ‘Depth and Darkness’
KMG – Underneath the Cranium (2019)
UPRISING FULL TANK (Various Artists) – ‘Balasa (2020)
Translates to ‘Shuffle’
Kartel – Kontrapunto (2020)
Translates to ‘Counterpoint’
Tatz Maven – Sige Simula (2020)
Translates to ‘Okay, Start’
Teknika Brutal – Puro EP (2020)
Translates to ‘Pure’
KMG – The Odyssey (2020)
Illustrado – Hanggang Kamatayan: Ngayon (2020)
Translates to ‘Until Death: Now’
Illustrado – Hanggang Kamatayan: Bukas (2020)
Translates to ‘Until Death: Tomorrow’
Moki Mcfly – Lumiere (2021)
Plazma – Ang Ulan at ang Delubyo (2021)
Translates to ‘The Rain and the Deluge’
Dhictah – Tara Sa Dagat (2021)
Translates to ‘Let’s Go to the Beach’
Dhictah’s standalone record will be shortly followed up by his collaborative record with KMG, Walang Kompromiso (No Compromise), which arrives on November 30.