Rolling the dice as a hip-hop masterpiece, Shanti Dope pays homage to the new generation in Maya, the rousing and riveting telling of the Filipino spirit.
Rap, for the most part, has always been challenged. Preceded by a street cred that is more dangerous than cool in the counter-culture sense, the hard-hitting bars and swaying rhythms have become the backbone of cautionary tales for those who insist on stubborn stereotypes. But beyond the tough, take-no-prisoner exterior, rap unravels to be an indelible imprint that informs the generation it soundtracks.
Often a commentary on society’s ills, there is a stirring sense of depth that courses through the tracks that carry more uncomfortable truths that many tend to ignore. Inherently unapologetic in its gritty poetry, it cannot get any more real and raw. Often misunderstood, the defiance of rap continues to break barriers and smash archetypes, especially in the Philippines, where more artists are fighting for its liberation from the shackles age-old dictates. And one of these valiant figures is Filipino rapper Shanti Dope.
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Committed to telling stories through the context of rap in the distinctly Filipino sense, Shanti Dope has been a force to be reckoned with in the local music scene. From such searing hits such as Nadarang, Mau, and Amatz, he has been telling it as it is, bar none. Some time later, Amatz was featured prominently in an episode of the Marvel series, The Falcon And The Winter Soldier. And now, Shanti Dope continues his crusade for authenticity and identity with the release of the generational anthem, Maya.
Kids These Days
A riveting reflection of the new generation it was written for by Shanti Dope (with the production orchestration of Lester Paul “Klumcee” Vaño) Maya is poetic, powerful, and passionate. Liberal with its thrilling horns, an addicting hook, and heart-pounding bass, it drives the message hard in each progression: “Ano mang pagsubok ang makasalubong / Ay kayang dalhin kahit mabigat / At bagong pag-asa ng / bayan / Gumagawa ng kasaysayan / ‘Di basta nagpapatangay sa agos / Meron din gustong patunayan.”
Rolling the dice as a hip-hop masterpiece, the rap track is aggressive in its assertion of what the youth can do, but sprinkled with optimism that is definitive of the overarching youth. Here,
there is a toast to the hustle, but it is not romanticized in a toxic positive way. Realized in the metaphor of a maya, a bird akin to liberty, the exposition soars throughout the 3:18 duration, bringing with it the hopes, dreams, and goals that the kids these days are all but willing to build with their own hands. Yes, down and dirty, as hard work should be.
Matching the bright and bold energy of the movement that is Maya, an equally arresting music video was filmed to expand the narrative of Shanti Dope further. “Parang maya na malaya ang lipad,” we are taken on a trip in and out of the heart of Manila. A heightened and whimsical take on the IRL, the visual echoes the spirit of the streets where compelling stories and charming people abound on every corner.
“Parang bukas na libro / Walang itinatago, paningin ay klaro,” sings Shanti Dope in Maya, the full spectrum of the youth realized in the interface of diverse points-of-view. “Sa mga gusto pa maging / Sa tuwing haharapin / Taong nasa salamin.” Culminating in a party at the edge of the industrial city skyline, what was once just make believe have been spoken into existence in shifting perspectives. Finally, the dreams become reality, whether it be through vibrant creativity or the kaching of commerce. “Dahilan kung bakit nagsusumikap pa nang husto Ay hindi lang dahil sa yamang materyal sa mundo,” the track trails. “Kayamanang matatawag ay kung meron ka nito / Pamilyang nagmamahal kaibigang totoo.”
It is inspiring, yes, but compounded with the entire musical experience, Maya is rousing, as is significant of the revolution spearheaded by the brave new generation.