Eminem had his “My Name Is.” He called on of his albums “Ako Si…”. Kanye West had his “The College Dropout”, “Late Registration”, and “Graduation.” He had “Diploma” and “Matrikula”. Intentional or coincidental, the similarities of these hip-hop icons to local rap artist Gloc 9 do not end with the album titles.
Gloc-9, Aristotle Pollisco in his other, original life, may just be an icon himself, as far as the Philippine rap territory is concerned.
A known protege of the late rap legend Francis Magalona, Gloc-9 has seemed to take on the responsibility of pursuing his mentor’s legacy. Case in point, his latest album Matrikula, which was released after Magalona’ passing. Though released barely two years after Diploma, the two albums are just worlds apart.
In the 2007 album Diploma, we got tracks about the fun, excitement and even humor of things like young love or hooking up with random underage girls (which is more of an Andrew E., rather than a Francis M. influence). It highlighted Gloc-9 as the fast-lipped rapper and even gave a glimpse of the rapper’s attempt to rap in English. The album’s best moment was in the track Lando, where we saw Gloc-9 as an excellent writer who can artistically combine the written word and rap music’s limited melody to form a really haunting musical narrative.
In the 2009 release Diploma, we saw the artist take Lando as a benchmark and from that, composed a whole album brimming with outstanding craftsmanship, awareness, growth, and maturity.
Though he actually doesn’t like being referred to as the next or the new Francis Magalona, the master rapper’s nationalistic influence was evident in songs like Upuan and Balita, both relevant and appropriate commentaries to the current political landscape of the country.
The album also had darker tones and beats, especially on the “story-telling” tracks that mostly depicts the life ofthe typical Filipino families, revolving around such themes like poverty, hopelessness, desperation and death of a child. But these songs were balanced by tracks about perseverance, education and keeping the dream alive, also constant themesin Gloc-9’s past releases.
Gloc-9 also pokes fun at the entertainment industry via “The Bobo Song,” where he declared most things dispensed by the television, radio and movies as “nakakabobo” and questioned the public’s media consumption, preference and judgment. (A curious, not exactly relevant point: Does he hate The Black Eyed Peas that’s why he did a version of Balita (sampled in The APL Song)? Was he mocking Bebot through the “chicken adobo” references?)
The ensemble of collaborators on this album was also brilliant. There’s Gabby Alipe of Urbandub, Jeazell of Zelle, Cookie Chua, Dex of Letter Day Story, Raymund Marasigan and many more. One of the best tracks of this album was the Gloc-9 and Noel Cabangon collaboration “Bayad Ko,” which had the same effects and message as Lando. Another great track, which wasn’t a rap song at all, was the equally haunting and goosebump-inducing Bituwin, which also showed Gloc-9’s vocal abilities. And of course, what’s a Gloc-9 album without the homage to his late master (there are 2 of them in here).
Over-all, the album was excellently written and masterfully produced. We laud Gloc-9 for his creativity and heart, 2 things he obviously poured so much of to create this masterpiece. This concept album is a welcome change in the local recording scene filled with run of the mill cover records.
Last year, we lost a legend. Now someone’s mastered his lessons from the master and is ready to take his place.
Whether he likes it or not.