The excitement surrounding 88rising’s Manila edition of Head In The Clouds is palpable. Fans swarmed social media on August 7 after the international music and arts festival was announced to the public.
Ticket selling for the festival went live last August 11 via their ticketing partner, SM Tickets. While many have been trying to predict who their secret lineup will be, some are suspecting that the festival will bring in some of their talents from 88rising’s sister label in the Philippines, PARADISE RISING, which has featured several Filipino acts in the past including Jason Dhakal, Fern., Kiana V, Massiah, Leila Alcasid, and Curtismith.
While we’re excited to see the 88rising and PARADISE RISING artists take center stage at Head In The Clouds Manila, we’re hoping to see some homegrown Filipino talent from the country’s expansive hip hop and R&B scene.
FELIP has been a force to be reckoned with in the mainstream Filipino music scene despite his relatively young solo career. The SB19 member has gone on to release several hit songs such as “Palayo” and “Bulan” that have received international recognition.
A seasoned performer with the global P-pop group SB19, FELIP’s performances are characterized by sharp choreography and top-tier production quality, with the rapper not shy from incorporating the visual or thematic elements from his music videos to the stage.
Filipino hip hop heavyweight made his mark as one of the best to come out of the FlipTop Battle League. As a battle rap alum, he’s no stranger to having to win a crowd over from the big stage. He’s known for his multisyllabic rap style and intensity when he performs. This crowd favorite is sure to turn it up with every performance.
If you ask any Filipino to name a local rapper, Al James is highly likely to be mentioned. The rapper skyrocketed into the mainstream in 2017, thanks to his then-inescapable “Pahinga” and has had hit after hit in the years that followed. He made his comeback in 2022 with his first solo single in two years with “PSG” to much acclaim.
Al James is also a regular performer who’s been a staple in gigs, concerts, and local festivals both in the country and overseas. Filipino audiences are sure to be excited for some of the country’s biggest hip hop hits being performed on the 88rising stage.
Beloved Filipino rap collective KARTELL’EM cannot be overlooked when drafting up a wishlist for a hip hop festival. The group, currently composed of rappers Waiian, Ne7in, Yorko, Wayvier, RuiijiKun, Nickname, O’Neen, Aftermatt, JWuds, and IDSG, has established itself at the forefront of underground Filipino rap.
The collective’s live show dynamics are very characteristic of underground gigs–highly interactive and bursting with energy as everyone raps and jumps along.
Prolific up-and-coming Filipino rapper YB Neet has been on the come up for a while now, making him stand out among other young rappers in the scene right now. His incredibly successful collaboration with Ex Battalion’s Flow G has amassed over 2 million views since its release, with the video still trending on YouTube at the 11th spot. Like many underground rappers, his performance style is up close and personal with the crowd. He’s far from being shy as he’s spitting bars over his diverse instrumentals.
Filipina rapper Zae has made her statement as an unapologetic female rapper in a male-dominated scene. Her signature rhythmic flow merged with themes of women empowerment earns her the title of “Baddest MF.”
Her live performances are full of swagger whenever she interacts with a crowd. As one of the fast-rising stars in the Philippines, it’s time to bring Zae to a bigger stage.
If you want to highlight the country’s diverse culture through music, you can’t have that without Morobeats. They’re independent, authentic Pinoy rap to its core–and their live performances reflect the fierce, raw passion one can expect from great Filipino hip hop acts.
Some of the label’s more prominent rappers such as JMara, Palos, Fateeha, and founder DJ Medmessiah have incredible confidence, chemistry, and dynamics on the stage, hyping up the crowd with tracks that resonate with the everyday Filipino.
LIAB Studios Showcase: Waiian, SHNTI, Calix, + More
Waiian launched his record label Lightning In A Bottle (LIAB) Studios in 2020 with five initial artists on their roster: SHNTI, Calix, Illicit, Yorko, and RuiijiKun. As mainstays in the underground rap scene, their performance styles are influenced by the culture. They keep it highly interactive–much like the other underground rappers on this list.
Moreover, LIAB artists can often be seen performing at events that tackle societal issues and/or help a cause. Hip hop is far from being just an entertainment platform, but also its roots in equity and social justice continue to be a lasting influence in culture and opportunities to amplify these important messages must be supported.
As one of the biggest rappers in mainstream Filipino music, Shanti Dope is a great addition to any hip hop festival. His songs are some of the biggest and most recognizable among Filipino crowds—even Marvel Studios took notice.
He’s played everywhere from small gigs to major concerts, collaborated with huge hip hop artists, and has recently made his second appearance on Coke Studio Philippines. Shanti Dope has mastered his stage presence–making his fast-paced raps the highlight of every performance.
Careless Music Label Showcase: James Reid, Nadine, Massiah + More
As the brainchild of Filipino superstar James Reid, Careless Music has brought together some of the rising hip hop and R&B talents from the Philippines over the years. The label’s artists are also packed with established performers in the local entertainment industry. They’ve performed in concerts and music festivals all over Asia, including the Asia League Fest. These natural performers can bring together their star power and work a crowd up.
While the pre-lineup ticket sale for Head In The Clouds Manila is ongoing, we’re throwing our hat in for homegrown talents that deserve more recognition on a global scale. Watch this space for more updates on Head In The Clouds Manila as they become available.
Header image: Artist photos courtesy of Al James, KARTELL’EM, Palos, DJ Medmessiah, Loonie, Nadine, SHNTI, Zae, FELIP, James Reid, JMara, Waiian, and Massiah via Spotify, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Soundcloud, and Careless Music.