Art by Rard Almario
Since entering the scene a few years ago, hip-hop collective Bawal Clan has had two goals: to make an imprint on Manila’s hip-hop scene, and to represent the Philippines overseas.
As a collective, Bawal Clan is a mix of recording artists, producers, and DJs, with the current roster composed of Yung Bawal, Pope Fiction, Ankhten Brown, OJ River, Funktalyst, DZ SVG, Rjay Ty, MNL$, Chef Eazy, Nuevo, Mic Rahman, Jed Li, Lex Luthor, and Krissy Cakes. It’s an overwhelming number of collaborators, sure, but that only spices things up a notch.
With different personal backgrounds come a whole baul of experiences to draw from. The result is a mix of English and Filipino raps and verses which are pretty much fire, if you ask us. Don’t believe us? Check out their very sensual music video for R U Aaliyah (a collab with Just Hush), or listen to the grittier bars from FNTNL if you haven’t already.
On Aug. 8, they’re releasing their first album “Paid in Bawal”, a 12-track offering that’s perfect for fans of hip-hop and R&B. Over email, they tell us about their origins, their observations of the Filipino hip-hop scene, and what to expect from the new album.
How was Bawal Clan put together? Was there a formal process or was it just a matter of approaching artists who you felt would mesh with the collective?
It all started from an inside joke. We were all friends first, pushing our own individual projects and coming from different camps, but we were all recording and hanging out at the same studio (the spot). The clan formed organically from that.
How important do you think visuals and style are in terms of communicating the message of your music (especially since you have your own clothing line)? How would you describe your visual identity right now?
Very important, but it doesn’t necessarily dictate the movement. It just stems from our individuality. We all have different tastes in visual style, so we express ourselves in different ways best way we can. If people like it, cool. If they dont, they dont have to. That’s the attitude.
What have you learned about Filipino hip-hop fans in the time you’ve been in the scene?
Filipino hip-hop fans are very supportive, and passionate.They show us lots of love so we’re giving that love back by putting out dope music for their listening pleasure.
What can we expect from your new album, “Paid in Bawal”?
There are 12 tracks and a bonus track on the physical copy. It’s a diverse album with different sounds or something along those lines. Expect the expected. 😉 There’s only two features in the album: Just Hush and DJ Buddah. We had a meeting every week for four months to create the album — the first time we’ve worked with each other in that capacity, having 8 MCs in and out of the studio.
We just really went with the vibe of the session. Nothing planned ‘cept for creating. [We] just came thru every Sunday to create something based on the vibe and energy of the session. It was all feel. No theme, just creating. I mean, shit, we called it church. That shit was our family time.
We want to represent the Philippines in the world of hip-hop, and this is our first collective offering for the culture. We want to put on for the country. We want to show people who don’t view the Philippines as a hip-hop force that they’ve just never looked. We’re gonna show ‘em. I think that’s what hip hop about though, it was for minorities and marginalized people to express themselves about the bullshit going on.
What are your hopes for Bawal Clan, and for local hip-hop in general?
Success to everyone. May we all find what we are searching for, and prosper.
You can follow Bawal Clan on Facebook, Instagram, and Soundcloud and listen to “Paid in Bawal” starting Aug. 8 on all streaming sites.