On Monday, November 7, BASICS correspondent Steve da Silva linked up with the Filipino-American MC Bambu for an interview after the Blue Scholars show in downtown Toronto. Bambu is from Los Angeles and has been producing for almost a decade with the likes of MC Kiwi, DJ Phatrick, Power Struggle and many others. In the Fall of 2010, Bambu, through Soul Assassins, released the “Los Angeles, Philippines” mixtape with the legendary DJ Muggs (Cypress Hill). Before 2011, the mixtape had already hit over 100,000 downloads. His LPs include ‘self entitled’, ‘exact change’, ‘i scream bars for the people’, and ‘paper cuts’. Here’s what the ‘Kasama’ [comrade in Tagalog] had to say to BASICS…
Steve da Silva / BASICS: How does the national liberation movement in the Philippines relate to the music you’re producing in America?
Bambu: There’s a clear line between the two. Like I said on stage, all my music really does is raise the awareness of the people and the consciousness of the masses. It’s a tool used to organize. The goal is to get those people who like the music to actually go out and organize. That’s where I separate myself from the actual work that’s going on.
Now, if you wanna talk about my organizing, then yeah, I am also doing work in organizing and educating folks, especially within the youth sector, basically building a bridge between what’s going on here and what’s going on back in the Philippines. What we like to say is connecting the ‘micro’ to the ‘macro’. We’re trying to get the youth we’re working with – youth of colour, Filipino youth – to bridge what’s going on in the community with what’s going on back at home and around the globe.
BASICS: As a ‘Fil-Am’ – a Filipino-American – I’m just curious about your expectations for the Philippine revolution in the coming years?
Bambu: Well in the Philippines we have the longest standing struggle and resistance, especially in that region of the world. I think that victory is the only thing that Filipinos will settle for. The Philippines is a semi-feudal, semi-colonial state and we’re trying to link arms with a capitalist society and it’s just not gonna work.
Again, there’s a lot of work that’s being done back home and a lot of work that can be done here in Canada and the U.S. to draw support for the movements going on back home. I’d like to make it clear that I don’t advocate for armed struggle, but I definitely support the people’s right to choose armed struggle.
Bambu: Man, that’s a conversation we’d best handle over some coffee, maybe some drinks, because that’s a long conversation. But what I can say is that all art needs to make some social commentary and reflect what’s going on. I’m speaking about visual arts and any other kind of art, be it cinema, music, whatever. It’s got to say something about our culture. It’s gotta have a time stamp but be timeless at the same time.
BASICS: As a revolutionary hip hop artist, what’s your reflections on revolutionary hip hop in relation to what’s developing on our continent?
Bambu: While I appreciate the term revolutionary, again all hip hop can really do is raise the consciousness of folks. I can sit there and think that everyone in that room that was chanting and singing along is now a revolutionary and ready to change the world, but that would be (1) arrogant of me and (2) a complete crock of shit. Until all of them show up a rally, begin to organize, and study for true systemic change, all I’ve done is given you something to bob your head to. And that goes for every other MC.
So again, while I love the position I’ve been given, I love the opportunity to be a part of something that is part of such a powerful medium, I recognize that it’s not the end. It’s the organizers, it’s the people who actually go out there. All I’m doing is representing them and the work that they do.
SD / BASICS: Alright man, thanks for choppin’ it up with BASICS.