Like a moth to a flame, Filipino rapper and activist BAMBU can’t refrain from making a change – from gangs to glory, he puts his perspective in bars and spits truth in candid rhymes.
Earning his urban credentials down the streets, Filipino-Californian Bambu De Pistola proves he doesn’t flinch away from his roots and it’s heat; growing up in the midst of gang wars, he lived the life only musicians could rap about and puts them all in check. Popping verses loaded with a transnational perspective on social justice issues, he uses his bloodied street cred to strike a chord in the music scene. “The real issue is the sub-culture that gangs mirror from the greater culture of America – “violence as a means of resolve” and “more money solves everything.” So, my outlined support of gang members comes from the understanding that what has been accomplished in these neighborhoods is powerful, and to get these young people to understand this power and harness for the greater good of the entire hood,” he shares of his history with the hood, proving how it’s not all lol’s to have the thug life choose him.
“I think balancing the culture of our parents’ home and the place our parents migrated to is constantly being explored and thriving into its own. My music tries to clear that lens and focus on our culture of resistance and not religion.”
Poised to hijack the scene with his unfiltered wisdom, he has a thirst that only socially conscious music could quell. “Hip Hop is a Black art birthed from injustice, and so its natural that this Black art has welcomed me, and provided me the platform to be unapologetic in my analysis of where I’m standing and the injustices surrounding me.”Armed with a pipeline dream and tenacious vision, the rapper slash activist quickly learns how to play with guns early on, and he’s got his sights set on the American dream’s lens. “I think balancing the culture of our parents’ home and the place our parents migrated to is constantly being explored and thriving into its own. My music tries to clear that lens and focus on our culture of resistance and not religion.”
They say that people are reaching a higher level of wokeness this 2018, but we’re still miles behind him. Taking stage presence schoolings from his musical idols, Bambu learns to stand on his own two feet, lead the way and get a head start. “The earliest influences on my style were a braiding of Prodigy (Mobb Deep), The D.O.C., B-Real and most notably, Ice Cube. Now that I’ve grown into my own style, I can focus my music on its direction — the direction is to hopefully raise awareness enough for people to actually get out and do the work needed toward justice in our communities.”
Claiming to be an old vet in the scene, his success as a rapper may not have gone viral, but his journey is setting it up as a Netflix-ready biopic waiting to be produced. Not one to exclude women in the picture, a song called “Labor of Girl” in his 2014 album “Party Worker” outlines the significance of women in the workforce, a collaboration that Bambu did with his rapper wife, Rocky Rivera. Written with a pressing matter of synths, loaded rhythms and a supportive banter that doesn’t fail to highlight Rocky’s voice, this album sets up the stage for his latest one.
Mining a musical playing field with deep-seated layers of undaunted Hip-Hop, he hits goldwith his eighth LP “Prey for the Devils.” Packed with hard blows in every line, it strikes a conversation involving the government, police brutality and division of race, promising to be an epic rap battle of history.
“Prey was a fun album to write because I approached it with indifference. I’d done the exploration of my personal history and identity studies in one rifle per family and knocked out a concept album with Party Worker. With Prey, I had the opportunity to stretch my legs as an emcee and just work the craft. While the album definitely had an overarching theme, the writing is really stream of consciousness rap with my style all over it. My approach to Prey was a lot more streamlined than my past works.” Planning to drop back home in the Philippines this January, he’s looking forward to touring with Filipino artist Ruby Ibarra and continue to raise awareness in our local streets. The devil’s got no chill indeed.
By: Bianca Serrano