Manila, Philippines– The future of local hip-hop is here. From Rap King Francis M.’s commercial hit success album Yo! in the early 90s, to more contemporary artists on Spotify tripling their streams and topping playlist charts, the hip-hop music scene in the Philippines has transformed from its modest roots into a full-blown cultural revolution. The once-niche genre has become a mainstream staple for many, amassing legions of fans and spurring the admiration of even casual radio listeners. It has served as an authentic and powerful medium for self-expression and a way to showcase one’s own lyrical gifts, not just in Tagalog, but languages such as Ilokano, Bisaya, Bikolano, Ilonggo, Chavacano, and many others.
Last December, kumu capped the year off with Sunugan All Stars, the biggest hip-hop event to take place on the platform. It was a celebration of FlipTop King Loonie’s birthday and a musical feast for their fans in the Kumunity. It gathered the biggest names in the hip-hop industry such as Gloc 9, Loonie, Shanti Dope, Abra, Flow G, Ron Henley, Apekz, Smugglaz, Princess Thea, Don Pao, Zaki, Lanzeta, Invictus, Sak Maestro, Harlem, J-Hon and DJ Buddah.
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Idyll Peroramas, Loonie’s manager and the event’s overall director said in an interview, “Sunugan All-Stars is the ultimate culmination and celebration of kumu and Sunugan’s blazing collaboration this 2021. We wanted to extravagantly showcase what has transpired the entire year and what will happen for the next years — rap battles, hip-hop collaborations, exclusive performances, giveaways for the fans, and many more.”
Moreover, James Rumohr, kumu Co-Founder and Chief of Staff said that such an event was an extraordinary feat by the Sunugan team. “Our users have a chance to witness some of the greatest hip-hop acts in the Philippines unified in one place,” he further explains.
The digitalization of Pinoy hip-hop culture
The mid-90s of Pinoy hip-hop brought more media exposure for the scene, it was a time when various radio stations from around Metro Manila played more hip-hop music both local and American. Fanzines such as Soulsonic were in circulation, covering the latest hip-hop in both the Philippines and United States.
Fast forward to now, when the global streaming platform Spotify supported Pinoy hip-hop’s rising influence by introducing four new playlists such as Kalye Hip-Hop, Bago Sa Rap, Dugong Hip-Hop, and Pinas Vibes. But that’s just one piece of the puzzle. Enter kumu.
FlipTop King and hip-hop legend Loonie said it best, “kumu has been a convenient, consistent, and enriching platform for the hip-hop industry especially this pandemic.” With in-person shows, concerts, meet-and-greets close to impossible given strict health protocols, “This app has been very impactful to us and our fans and followers. It kept us connected,” he shares.
With kumu’s wide range of users from different walks of life, Peroramas comments on how the platform has facilitated a better sense of community and brought massive exposure to potential listeners, “We’re glad to see new rap battle fans or even the people who get curious about our industry.” Now, not only are hip-hop fans able to watch their favorite artists perform live on screen, they can also interact with them through the platform’s features.
For Rumohr, this is just the start of their mission of spreading hip-hop fever. He’s hopeful that once restrictions are eased, there are more opportunities to put together kumu events at offline venues both in Manila and various regions in the Philippines, “Cheers to more Sunugan events in 2022 and beyond!”