Roughly translated, with poetic license: I can see your lush grassland and your mountains, I want to drown in between your knees, to taste the sweet nectar of your brain. Jesus. Make sure your mom ain’t in the car when you listen to this. Catch the wordplay? Basang-basa: wet, but also, easily read. It’s raunchy AF, but contains a seed of wisdom: the first organ you have to lubricate is the brain.
Apart from being sexy, the man has balls to be writing lyrics about Love in Time of Tokhang. it’s almost revolutionary. In the same song: “Dito tayo sa dilim yun walang may kita / Buksan mo ng palihim meron yang sorpresa / Wag ka sakin maaning di ako PDEA.”
“Mas challenge yung [pagsusulat sa] Tagalog kasi limited [yung vocabulary] pero mas dama mo siya,” he says about his choice to write in Filipino. “Yung sinusulat mo, yun yung bibigkasin mo talaga everyday, so mas feel [ko] siya gamitin.”
When it comes to Al James, the thirst is real.
Luckily, Filipino flows for Al. “Nakakagulat na marami nang nakaka-appreciate ng Tagalog songs ngayon,” he says. He knows he’s an unusual case — an artist who can cross over from underground to mainstream (his song Ngayong Gabi hit #1 on Wave 89.1’s primetime hit list last December 2017), who can fill the floor at high school dances and high-end clubs.
“Dati i-jujudge na nila na jologs dahil Tagalog,” says Al James. “Iba rin yung music scene ngayon, iba rin yung crowd ngayon. Mas open rin sila, mas open sila mag-explore and makinig.”
The time is ripe, and he still has a lot to prove beyond his two strong singles. For now, he seeks time to focus on creating new music, and he’s already being approached by big names for collaborations. But he’s already fully-booked with gigs until the end of March, his girlfriend tells me. This just tells you that when it comes to Al James, the thirst is real.