Q&A with the rap scene’s newest star
By Fiona Patricia S. Escandor
KNOWN for quick and sharp wordplay, Loonie is the newest superstar of the Filipino rap scene. He has dominated rap battles and hypnotized audiences with his raw and often rebellious wordplay that talk about human ambition and social issues — some of which, he said, he can’t actually release commercially unless he wants to be sued for anarchy.
Patriotic, political and angry, Loonie’s songs had often given him his fair share of detractors, yet he remains undeterred—a fact manifested in his newest single “Abante,” which he will release this month. The track, along with his hit singles “Tao Lang” and “From Saudi With Love,” will be included in his upcoming album “Ultrasound” due this December.
An apprentice of the late Francis Magalona, Loonie bagged Producer of the Year in the 2007 Philippine Hiphop Awards and had participated in battle tournaments in the US, Canada and New Zealand. He has released two other albums, “Critical Condition” (with his group Stick Figgas) and his solo debut, “The Ones Who Never Made It.”
Loonie considers Cebu his second home ever since his family moved here when he was a college freshman. He was just taken in by Francis M. at that time and decided to stay behind in the capital, but since then he shuffles between the two cities regularly. In his most recent visit, Loonie took part in Ubec Unite: Rock for Bohol, a benefit concert held in the KOA Tree House.
You said you got your fascination for words from your dad. What was it like growing up with him?
He was kind of a “grammar Nazi” when my siblings and I were growing up. Every day after school, he would teach us vocabulary, speech and idioms; he would give us a new set of words to spell. The first poem I memorized was Ulirang Anak, which was in a book given to me by my dad.
What introduced you to rap music?
The first rap music I listened to was “Hip Hop Hooray” by Naughty by Nature when I was in third grade. I was already into rhymes way before; that song taught me words can be mixed with rhythm and that with the right meter, it would sound good.
What was your first song about?
I was 10 when I wrote my first song. It’s called “Bayang Magiliw” and it’s about our country. At that time, I didn’t know that you can go to jail for using or playing with the lyrics of the “Lupang Hinirang.”
What was the most valuable advice you got from Francis M.?
He told me, “Wait until you’re seated.” He taught me to be humble always, and to never stop learning.
Aside from rap, what are other genres you listen to?
I don’t really choose what I listen to based on genres. I’m a big fan of System of a Down, Bob Marley, and Alanis Morisette — who’s actually one of my influences in song writing. I also like girls who play the keys and sing like Alicia Keys, Regina Spectre, and Sarah Mclahclan.
Who are the artists who you would like to collaborate with?
I’m fortunate that locally I’ve already collaborated with those I had wanted to collaborate with. Internationally, I’d like to work with Eminem — even just opening for him will be a dream come true.
What is your new single, “Abante,” all about?
The song is about moving forward. The road bumps and detours in my career — a court case and a stabbing incident among others — had made me lose the motivation to rap, so I created that song for myself, to help me toughen up. Hopefully it will motivate others as well.