Behind the Music: Gloc-9 Reveals Influences, Song He’s ‘Very Proud’ to Have Written, What Makes Rap Compelling

Jun 1, 2021

The late Francis M. once described Gloc-9 as a “blacksmith of words and letters.” True enough, over the course of more than two decades, the highly esteemed rapper has successfully built a towering catalog that showcases his mastery of storytelling. Autobiographical. Character-driven. Social commentaries. Simple love songs. He has written it all. 

Coupled with his clever sonic choices and rap delivery techniques (he can be lightning-quick or melodic, and convey a certain level of emotional heaviness nonetheless), there is no doubt why casual Pinoy hip-hop listeners and fellow artists alike regard him as one of the Philippines’ finest. 

But not one to slow down, the now-independent act continues to deliver. He meticulously crafts and puts out relevant songs, helps emerging rappers, and collaborates with artists beyond the hip-hop sphere (Have you listened to “Payong” featuring Perf de Castro?).

In our latest Behind the Music feature, the 6th Wish Music Awards’ Artist of the Year gets candid as he shares his influences, the song he is “very proud” to have written, what makes rap compelling, his thoughts on today’s hip-hop scene, and more.

You are considered one of the most prolific rappers and songwriters in the country. What are the top five tracks that shaped your sound?

Siguro kung papipiliin ako on the spot, in no particular order, top five tracks na naka-influence talaga sa akin:  “Mga Praning” ni Francis M., “Stan” at “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” ni Eminem, “Slow Jamz” ni Kanye West at Twista, at “Thuggish Ruggish Bone” ng Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.  

Your songs have delved into different themes and issues — from love to politics to LGBTQ+. What makes rap music an effective platform to tell such stories and messages?

Siguro napakalaking tulong na ang rap ay walang rules pagdating sa kung anong gusto mong sabihin, kung anong topic ‘yung gusto mong i-tackle. 

Nung napakinggan [naming mga rapper] ‘yung iba’t ibang topics na pinag-usapan ni Francis M. sa mga kanta niya, naisip namin na ganun din ‘yung pwede naming gawin — at napakalaking influence nun sa writers na katulad ko. Kahit naman si Eminem sinabi niya mismo na rap music is the most influential type of music na na-encounter niya.

Is there a particular track or project that you’re most proud of? What makes it so?

Lahat naman ng mga kanta ko ay proud ako dahil nasulat ko sila, pero kung pipili ako ng isang kanta siguro ‘yun ‘yung “Sirena.” 

I think “Sirena” ang kanta na pinaka-kabado ako na i-release dahil alam ko na dalawa lang ang pwedeng reaction ng listener, lalo na ‘yung mga kabilang sa LGBTQ+ na mga kapatid natin — either magustuhan nila o hindi nila magustuhan. Alin lang sa dalawa. 

I’m very happy sa reception nila. Nung una may mga naririnig ako, may na-receive kami na comments, “Bakit ‘Sirena’ ‘yung title, hindi naman kami isda?” Pero nung narinig nila ‘yung message nung song, I’m very happy na tumawid sa kanila ‘yung mensahe and nagustuhan nila ‘yung kanta. ‘Di nila naisip na nababastos sila in any way dun sa song na “Sirena.”

I’m very, very proud of that song at sana makagawa pa ako ng isa pang katulad nun.

You’ve been in the industry for over two decades now. And your career has spawned several hit collaborations. What makes these projects memorable?

Siguro kung meron man akong maiisip kung bakit memorable ang lahat ng collaborations na nagawa ko, especially ‘yung mga songs na na-invite ako to collaborate with another artist or another group, ito ay ‘yung thought na malaking malaking tulong ‘yun sakin to widen ‘yung range ng music ko [at] para mas mapakinggan ako ng mas maraming tao. Nagkaroon ng malaking tulong ‘yun sa akin as an artist — and ‘yung tiwalang ibinigay ng ka-collaborate [ko] sa mga awitin na ‘yan. 

Siyempre to name a few, Parokya Ni Edgar, Greyhoundz, siyempre si sir Francis M. ‘Yang mga artist na ‘yan ay napakalaking tulong kung nasaan ako ngayon kaya I’m very, very thankful sa kanila.

Many new rappers are emerging nowadays. What can you say about the current hip-hop scene in the country? Are there new rappers you want to work with? 

Nakakatuwa dahil sobrang dami nang magagaling na rap artists ngayon. 

I think ‘yan ay bunga ng kung saan man nadala nung unang artists ‘yung level of writing, level of artistry, ‘yung mga sumunod na artists dun na sila nagsimula. Kaya ‘yung level of artistry ng bagong artists ngayon ay mas mataas at mas magagaling talaga. Nakakatuwa dahil makikita mo kung gaano ka-hitik ‘yung mga talent ng rappers ngayon. 

Kung meron man akong babanggitin na isang bagong artist na narinig ko lately na nasiraan ako ng ulo, ‘yan ay ang bagong rap act ng Def Jam Philippines na si SCYE. Nagulat ako kung gaano siya ka-metikuloso sa pagsulat at kung gaano ka-intricate ‘yung kaniyang rhyme schemes at ‘yung kaniyang phrasing, nasiraan ako ng ulo. Hindi lang ‘yun — kumakanta pa siya. Kung siya rin gumagawa ng melody ng music niya, nakakagulat talaga and nakaka-proud na ganiyan kagagaling ang mga bagong artist ngayon.

Since you’ve become an independent artist, you’ve been diligently putting out new music for your fans to enjoy. After the string of songs you’ve released during the quarantine, you’ve unveiled your brand-new EP “Poot at Pag-ibig” back in February. Tell us more about this effort.

Nanggaling ako sa times na nagre-record ka ng album every year. Tapos ang album mo, 11 to 12 tracks per album. Sa totoo lang, nung ako’y nagdecide na maging independent artist, wala sa listahan, wala sa wish list ko na gumawa ng isang project na ganun kadami yung kanta. Pero, I think, nung latter part ng 2020, nag-decide ako na gumawa ng isang EP na merong anim na kanta. 

Nung una iniisip ko kung pano ko gagawin ang six songs within one month. Pero natuwa ako na nakahanap ako ng mga letra at ng mga salita para buuin ‘yung six songs. Nakakilala din ako ng mga artist na makakatulong ko para makasama dun sa mga kanta. Gusto ko magpasalamat kay Goodson at kay Gcode, sila ‘yung mga katulong ko sa pagsulat, kela Loir, kela Kxle, kay ArvyT, siyempre kay elle shaun, kay sir Perf, maraming maraming salamat sa kanilang lahat.

As the 6th WMAs’ Wish Artist of the Year, what advice can you give to your fellow music-makers when it comes to honing their craft?

Ang maipapayo ko lang lagi sa aking fellow artists pagdating sa pag-hone ng kanilang skill o kanilang craft — kahit ano pa ‘yan — huwag kang titigil kung ikaw ay naniniwala at mahal na mahal mo ang ginagawa mo. Huwag na huwag kang titigil. 

Katulad nga ng kasabihan, ang tumigil, ang umayaw, ‘yun ang talo. Anytime na matumba ka, anytime na madapa ka, hindi binibilang yan. Ang binibilang diyan ay kung ilang beses ka tumatayo. Walang aayaw, walang titigil, hangga’t masaya ka pa. Kung hindi ka na masaya, I think ‘yun na siguro yung time para humanap ka ng iba mong gagawin. Pero hangga’t masaya ka at nakikita mo na may mga taong masaya para sa’yo, tuloy lang.

Check out his top Wishclusives below:

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