Francis Magalona : biography
Francis Durango Magalona (October 4, 1964 – March 6, 2009), also known as FrancisM, Master Rapper, The Mouth and The Man From Manila, was a Filipino rapper, entrepreneur, songwriter, producer, actor, director, and photographer. He was the first Filipino rapper in the Philippines to cross over into the mainstream. He was credited for having pioneered the merging of rap with Pinoy rock, becoming a significant influence to artists in that genre as well. He was also a television host on MTV Asia and Channel V Philippines and on noontime variety television show Eat Bulaga! Magalona died seven months after being diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia. Magalona was later awarded a posthumous Presidential Medal of Merit. The award's citation noted that it had been given “for his musical and artistic brilliance, his deep faith in the Filipino and his sense of national pride that continue to inspire us.”
Filipino hip hop and nationalistic rap
In 1990, he released the album Yo!, the first commercially released Filipino rap album. Yo! included several popular singles such as "Mga Kababayan" (Fellow Countrymen), "Gotta Let 'Cha Know", "Cold Summer Nights", and a duet with Pia Arroyo "Loving You Baby". With tracks that featured politically conscious and thought-provoking rhymes in both English and Tagalog, Yo! was a big success and helped catapult Filipino hip hop from underground to mainstream status. It also marked the birth of Makabayang (nationalistic) rap in Filipino hip hop.
In 1992, Francis Magalona released Rap Is FrancisM (1992). With tracks addressing the various cultural and social problems that plagued his country such as drug addiction in "Mga Praning" (Paranoids), political instability in "Halalan" (Elections) as well as the detrimental effects of a colonial mentality in "Tayo'y Mga Pinoy" (We Are Filipinos), the record's complexity and conscious message quickly earned it its classic status and became the standard by which future albums of the genre were to be compared. This album helped tag Magalona as one of the most politically conscious voices of his generation.
Hardware Syndrome and the merging of rap with Pinoy rock
The release of his third album, Meron akong ano! (I Got Something!) in 1993 marked the beginning of Magalona's experimentation with Pinoy rock. It also saw the birth of Hardware Syndrome—previously known as Cannabis—the band which would, with Magalona at its helm, introduce the merging of Pinoy Rock and Rap to the Filipino music audience. Members over the years included musicians Carlo Sison, Francis Villanueva, Niño Mesina, Boyet Aquino, Elmer Blancaflor, Noel Mendez, Perf de Castro, Benjie "Bagets" Mendez, Albert Tamayo, DJ Kimozave, DJ Radikal MK, Kenji Marquez, Jack Rufo, and Wendell Garcia.
Magalona was soon cited for excellence in both genres of music. He collaborated with other OPM luminaries such as Joey Ayala, Heber Bartolome of Banyuhay, Ryan Cayabyab, Mike Hanopol of Juan Dela Cruz Band, Michael V., Death Threat, and the band Eraserheads. In the latter part of his career, Magalona worked together with rappers Pikaso, Gloc 9 and the Pinoy rock band Parokya ni Edgar. In 1994, Magalona moved from Octo-Arts EMI Philippines, which had released all of his previous albums, to BMG Records Pilipinas, the same label as the seminal Pinoy rock group, The Eraserheads.
Freeman was released the following year, 1995, and firmly established Magalona's legitimacy in the Pinoy rock scene. Tracks like "Three Stars & A Sun", "Kabataan Para Sa Kinabukasan", "Suckin' on Helium/Kaleidoscope World" would become defining touch-points in Magalona's body of work. A track titled "Intellectual Property Rights" would sample a speech by then-president Fidel V. Ramos. Intellectual property rights was an issue that would continue to be an important and very personal advocacy for Magalona. "Kaleidoscope World" went on to win 1996 Awit Award for Best Produced Record of the Year, and the 1996 NU 107 Rock Award for Song of the Year. Its music video was directed by the celebrated director/cinematographer Raymond Red
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