- Ida Beltran-Lucila
Gloc 9 and Shanti Dope: the Kingpin and Prodigy of Philippine Rap
One of the recent concert engagements in Edmonton was the Rapsada sa Canada featuring Gloc 9 and Shanti Dope. This tour is part of Gloc 9’s celebration of 25 years in the music industry, which also brought them to Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, and Red Deer. This tour in a way, is also about the beginning and the future of Philippine rap - featuring the Philippines’ King of Hip-Hop and the Phenom.
Gloc 9 is Aristotle Condenuevo Pollisco, rapper, singer and songwriter, from Binangonan, Rizal. He discovered rap during his elementary years, where he would memorize the popular rap songs until eventually making his own. He made a name in the local underground hip hop scene with the Filipino hip hop group Death Threat. Through time, he has released albums which have garnered awards, practically winning everything he was nominated for. One of the most prolific rapper and
songwriters of the Philippines, Gloc 9 has been awarded the Sudi National Music Award by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, two FAMAS Awards, 21 Awit Awards, 18 Myx Music Awards, 9 PMPC Star Awards and the 6th Wish Music Awards’ Artist of the Year. He has also been inducted at the Calle Con Hall of Fame. It has been said that rapper Francis Magalona has described Gloc 9 as “a blacksmith of words and letters, and a true Filipino poet”. He is a storyteller - of his life, universal stories of love and family, and social issues like poverty, patriotism and gender identity.
Shanti Dope, rapper, singer and songwriter, is Sean Patrick Ramos from Cavite. He discovered hip-hop with a group of neighbourhood kids, copying what they would hear on the radio. At the age of 14, he started writing his own songs for friendly battles in the underground rap scene. He started with rhyming and with the help of friends, learned about conceptualizing his writing. He maximized opportunities to perform, paid or not, to be noticed. At the age of 16, he signed up with a recording label. He is considered a phenom, generating millions of streams locally and abroad, and performances throughout Asia, Australia, in the United States, and now in Canada. His songs are described as “laden with slow-burning hip-hop beats and cuttingly honest lyricism”, with “awesome wordplay, spectacular verses and gorgeous rap flow”. His song “Amatz” was featured on Marvel’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier series in Disney+, episode Power Broker.
Gloc 9 is known for helping emerging rappers, and opening up opportunities. And Shanti Dope has acknowledged Gloc 9 as a major influence and inspiration for him. And so, it was heartening to see the interaction between them and about 16 local aspiring and emerging singers, rappers, and songwriters during the Meet and Greet in Edmonton, sharing their experiences, advice and thoughts.
First and foremost, they both stressed the importance of doing what you are passionate about and enjoying the process. To not give up. When you fail, it doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you push yourself forward again and persevere. But once you’re no longer happy, then probably that’s the time to do something else. Gloc 9’s start was not an easy one. In fact, sometime after the release of his second album, he studied Nursing and worked other jobs, thinking that his music would not be lucrative enough to support a family. Thankfully, when he was about to take the Nursing exam, his musical career took off. Nevertheless, he is proud that he was able to have this educational accomplishment, as an example to his children.
Get inspiration from other artists, continue to research and try different styles, and be excited with experimenting. In this current music scene, there’s easier access to various works and styles, the ability to release your own songs, and to learn skills like mixing. But because of this accessibility, there are more artists in the pool. And so there’s a greater challenge to excel. Gloc 9 elaborates that this boils down to who wants it more, who is passionate about it, and willing to persevere. Consistency is the key. To stand out, make sure your output is consistent. Learn from every person you meet and work with, and each time you perform, treat it like it’s your last one and do your best. Keep learning. For Shanti Dope, he aims to learn more about the business side of the music industry, i.e. marketing and branding, apart from his songwriting.
Asked about what their advice would be to Filipino singers and rappers who are establishing their identity in Canada, they are of the same opinion to focus on where you are comfortable with, and stay authentic. Do not make impositions based on the market. To stand out here in Canada, it boils down to intentions. If it’s an expression of yourself, it doesn’t matter whether you write in Filipino or English, it’s whatever you desire to express. Shanti Dope is quick to say how impressed he is with Filipino artists in Canada who study and/or work while pursuing their art, saying with a laugh, that he didn’t think he would be able to survive that himself.
That evening with Gloc 9 and Shanti Dope was a refreshing encounter with two artists whose work I was not initially familiar with, but now appreciate, especially after witnessing their talents, discipline, wisdom, humility and generosity. It is just right that they are looked up to by the aspiring and emerging artists in the Meet and Greet, and who should heed the words that were shared with them by the kingpin and prodigy of Philippine art.
Photo credit for concert photos: Yana in Moments Photography
* This article was published in the December 2022 issue of the Alberta Filipino Journal.
** Do you know of a Filipino, or of Filipino-descent, artist/creative, or an art and culture event that should be featured? Send a message to PhilippineArtsCouncil@gmail.com.