Hip-hop is a canvas for collating issues varying from existential to political. Thriving from the arguably tarnished but ain’t dead hip-hop culture in the Philippines, RJAY TY is set to reclaim its glory as he breaks the stereotype that has plagued the scene. He is on a fly high roll to draw a line in the sky and reshape the urban landscape’s perception on rap culture.
Rjay Ty is a hip-hop artist from the Philippines that is set to brand his name in the hip-hop scene with his indie vibes and eclectic themes. He describes his music as cliché as it is, a reflection of himself. His music revolves on a roster of his mood, emotions and what he is going through. The reality he experiences is resonated through his lyrics. Aside from music, he is also a part of the clothing brand “UNSCHLD” that serves as a reminder to all of us to always challenge the status quo.
Hip-hop is his first love. Once a kid, he used to groove on MC Hammer’s ‘Can’t Touch This.’ But it was never in his cards to pursue a career in music until he found Snoop Dogg. It was in fifth grade tucked with his so-called best friend discman during the glorious days of cd’s when he bought the album, “Snoop Dogg’s Greatest Hits,” and was like ‘yo this is for me!’ “I brought that everyday to school. I would write lyrics on my notebook. That’s how it all started for me.”
It was in high school when he and rappers, Abra and Alex Omiunu, formed their first group named “LDP.” He recalls it was pure fun and frolic then. They would go to Alex’s house to do some cypher and freestyle sessions. The recordings went green lit when they bought a mic. “So, from there when we started recording and we put our stuff out, we eventually met producers who would offer to make beats for us. Which was good at that time because there were no producers. All of us were MC’s, we didn’t really have money to buy beats because we were still in high school.” Fate had it, they met B-Roc of Turbulence Productions. “B-Roc was one of the first guys who put us on recording who brought us to his studio, gave us a beat, put us on a mixtape and it was official! We did shows outside school. So ang saya! Sobrang saya nun.” At an early age of 15, the path gets clearer for their careers. The big decision came when he was studying Medical Technology then his parents left for the US and he decided to stay. The spotlights beamed brighter for their group so he had to grab the opportunity. He stopped school to pursue his passion because he felt “..that was the path I need to take for me to get where I am at now.”
“It is not really about the language, it was more like the quality of music they were putting up and the messages they were trying to convey to their listeners.”
Local hip-hop scene is thriving compared to a time when it is significantly snobbed. “One thing’s for sure, right now the reception is really good! People pay attention. At that time when we were just starting, people really didn’t care ‘ah, hip-hop.’ They would always have a stigma that hip-hop is baduy.”, and then he stresses, “Well of course, I think if you were not really aware of what’s going on at that time there would really be stigma.” It was the notion of mainstream that has branded the hip-hop music. He wants people to know that there are artists who strive to put out quality music. He mentions some of these as Nimbus 9, Audible MC’s, Stick Figgas. “It is not really about the language, it was more like the quality of music they were putting up and the messages they were trying to convey to their listeners.”
“It’s a different story. There’s a lot of our people who are out in different countries trying to work and do their thing. There’s always a deeper meaning to it. There’s always that message that says, ‘Ah you know that this guy is a Filipino!”
Philippine hip-hop for him is defined by both beats and lyrics. He claims that there is a story behind every beat and lyrics and that there is always a Philippine context branded in it. “Kasi yung mga nangyayari dito hindi naman nangyayari sa ibang bansa. Yung mga pinagdadaanan ng mga Pinoy. It’s a different story. There’s a lot of our people who are out in different countries trying to work and do their thing. There’s always a deeper meaning to it. There’s always that message that says ‘Ah you know that this guy is a Filipino!” he says.
Rjay is never interested in politics but being on a spotlight, he always felt the need to say something. “For me, I feel sort of responsible in some kind of way to give them a heads up or if something is going on, or like what I feel about a certain thing just to let them know how I really feel about it,” he says and added, “Just so that they could also realize this is what I’m trying to say. Let me think about it and do something about it or say something about it. Because we’re all part of it anyway.”
“When you base it on feels and how you really feel, people resonate to that. They know when you’re saying something authentic.”
People resonate to feelings. “When you base it on feels and how you really feel, people resonate to that. They know when you’re saying something authentic,” he tells us. “I’ve learned to be able to translate what I’m trying to say in a more of a feel-type of way. Which is I think is always the best when you’re trying to make music. Cause when people listen and they sometimes think, but some just get it. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing pero sometimes it’s also good na umpisa palang ‘Ah!” ramdam na nila.”
He describes his change in music through the years as ‘mad funny’. He first released a mixtape back in 2011 with the title ’11-11-11’ that felt like “Yo! That was dope! 21 tracks.” It was during the creation of his latest album with Yung Bawal titled ‘Hit the Spot’ when he realized he needs to be more organized, especially with his feelings.
“I always felt the need to show people from outside looking in the Philippines that there’s something good going here in the Philippines. They have something to say so we need to listen.”
Music to him has always been personal but at the same a goal is embedded. “I always felt the need to show people from outside looking in the Philippines that there’s something good going here in the Philippines. They have something to say so we need to listen.” Apparently it is slowly happening. His passion has led to international connections which he is ecstatic for in 2018.
Although artists of the same genre mostly fall on a common ground, Rjay reminds us that people have different mind frames. Political issues are fragile but deserves a sit for conversation because we are all a part of it.
By: Cholo Katipunan
Photographer: Erwin Canlas
Art direction: Renz Mart Reyes
Produced by: Rogin Losa
HMUA: Apple Faraon