In recent years, hip hop artistes have been at the forefront of the music industry. The popularity of rap music showed how the hip hop culture has evolved since its early inception in 1960s. Though its subgenre, “gangsta rap”, raised one too many eyebrows in society, hip hop music nonetheless kept the energy pumping all night at the first-ever MTV Music Evolution in Manila. The live music event is one of those rare concerts where the whole time we felt like we were truly witnessing history being made.
On 17th May (Sunday), over 22,000 music fans trodded to the historic Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park where a stellar line-up of international and local acts were featured to showcase both iconic and contemporary hip hop music on a single stage.
Before they kicked off the event, a number of DJs, including Fil-Am spinmaster Q-York, kept the crowd pumped by dishing out a dope mix of old school hip hop music and chart-topping tracks. After the one-hour set, MTV Asia VJs Alan Wong and Hanli Hoefer came onstage alongside MTV Pinoy VJs Yassi Pressman and Chris Schneider to greet concert-goers and give away tonnes of exclusive MTV T-shirts. One lucky guy even won a GoPro Hero 4 through the Nestle Drumstick contest.
Just as darkness engulfed the night sky, Gloc-9, one of the most celebrated rappers in Philippines, emerged onstage and kicked off the event with his chart-topping singles, “Upuan” and “Sumayaw Ka”.
The rapper, who is a former member of iconic hip hop group Death Threat, has a number of great tracks under his belt, but his LGBT-themed song “Sirena” is a fan favourite as everyone raised their glow sticks and sang in unison. This was then followed by a heart-wrenching rendition of “Three Stars and A Sun”, which is said to be a tribute to Francis M., the country’s late “Master Rapper”.
As if that wasn’t enough to move fans to tears, Gloc-9 paid another tribute by performing Francis M.’s “Kaleidescope World”, which ended beautifully with a huge singalong.
Philippines’ hip hop act Abra, who is the youngest artiste out of the performers lineup, was the next to come onstage. The young rapper intensified the energy level by showcasing his sick, inimitable flow with a medley of 6 songs. His crew, Lyrically Deranged Poets (LDP), also joined him onstage and together they displayed a jaw-dropping performance.
He performed “Cerebus” together with Loonie and Ron Henley, which had the crowd cheering wild as it was aptly accompanied by a pyrotechnic display and a giant fireball at the end.
It has been a while since we’ve seen Grammy award-winning group Black Eyed Peas perform onstage as all 4 members have been busy working on their own solo careers. However, Filipino-American rapper Alp.de.ep made his way back to his home country to give us one of the best nights ever.
He first came onstage to perform a mash-up of “Hero We Go” and Philippines’ favourite “Bebot”. His “The Voice Asia” mentee Jessica Reynoso then made a surprise appearance to perform “Be” and got the party started with “I Got The Feeling”. Abra and Looney also joined them onstage to perform the crowd favourite “Where is The Love”.
Hailing all the way from Pennsylvania, iconic turntablist DJ Cash Money showed up on a lit-up geometric DJ booth that illuminated the centre of the stage. A cultural icon in the DJ world today, he put forth his undying love for hip hop by fusing new school flava and old school tunes into the mix.
Best known for pioneering scratch techniques, he got the crowd moving in unison amidst a spectacular display of lasers. The fantastic combination of iconic hip hop tunes also truly showed us how hip hop music has evolved over the years.
DJ Cash Money’s set was shortly followed by West Coast hip hop act YG and his crew, who gave us a taste of the West Coast gangsta rap. He brought the house down with a 15-song medley as he opened his set with “BPT” alongside DJ Goofy 500 and Slim 400. The trio had the crowd dancing wild when they performed YG’s smash hits from his debut album “My Krazy Life”.
At times, his set was a little too explicit and vulgar, but that didn’t stop the crowd from having fun and bobbing their heads to his hit singles like “My Hitta”, “Don’t Tell Em”, “Who Do U Love”, and “I Just Wanna Party”.
By the time YG finished his set, the crowd became noticeably excited because it was finally time for some real old school hip hop music. Iconic Grammy award-winning act Naughty by Nature took us through a hip hop time warp by performing some of their famous and timeless songs like “O.P.P.”, “Hip Hop Hooray”, “Uptown”, “Craziest”, and “Feel Me Flow”. Although this was their first time performing in the Philippines, they made sure that some hip hop knowledge was dropped and the 90s hip hop culture can be felt.
Naughty by Nature, who appeared on stage wearing custom-made shirts bearing the words “Filipino by Nature”, also expressed their support for Philippines boxer Manny Pacquiao. They further emphasised how hip hop carries on through generations before giving a toast to hip hop hero Tupac Shakur. Before closing their set, they performed a snippet of Francis M.’s “Kaleidescope World”, earning cheers from the crowd.
MTV Music Evolution 2015 wrapped up with all iconic and current hip hop artistes taking the stage just as there was a breathtaking explosion of confetti, with Naughty by Nature proclaiming alongside their fellow hip hop artistes, “This is history in the making!”
The free entry show was recorded live for global telecast under the MTV World Stage global series to an international audience of more than three-quarters of a billion households in over 160 countries. It will premiere on 30th May (Saturday) at 6pm (TH/WIB), 7pm (SG/PH), 8pm (MY). Viewers are advised to check local listings in other markets.
Photos: MTV Asia/Ferdie Arquero/Kristian Dowling/Carla Barretto/Kris Rocha