By Ed Uy
When Francis Magalona passed away a few years ago, many thought that Hip-hop would slowly fade into obscurity, but because of the perseverance of our local rappers and the continued support of its loyal community, the hip-hop is once again making its way back into mainstream consciousness.
Francis M. may have opened the doors to rap artists, but it was his munificence in taking in new artists under his wing and helping them develop their skills that has ensured that his love for this music genre would live on.
However, unlike “Francism” which spread out from TV and radio, the rap resurgence has been brought about by the underground “Fliptop” battles and the internet, which has been essential in spreading the rhymes for this generation.
As one of the now iconic figures of these underground word battles, Marlon “Loonie” Peroramas, has become quite Youtube famous, with his collection of videos easily surpassing 10 million views.
check out his single Tao Lang below:
He may look like a leaner version of Ogie Alcasid’s famous character “Boy Pickup,” but his wit go far beyond one-liners and his rhymes always plump with meaning.
Born in Pasig City, Loonie first began memorizing the songs of Coolio and Bone Thugs n Harmony, when he was in third grade, but his love for words started even before he began to rap his first lines.
“My dad was sort of grammar police in our house, so we grew up reading books, and bonded over word games and crossword puzzles,” Loonie told The Manila Times in an exclusive interview.
“Although he worked in finance, he enjoyed editing reports and would tell us that as long as we had good written and verbal communications skills we had the tools to survive,” he recalled.
Asked why he chose the name Loonie, he said it was a name they used to call him way back in highschool.
“They called me “Marloonie” in highschool which later became Loonie in college hanggang nagwork na ako, siguro its because I have a knack for doing a lot of crazy stuff,” he laughed.
The name Loonie is actually an acronym for Lyrically One of the Nation’s Illest Emcees—a fitting description of his word wizardry, brought about by those books, spelling bees and listening to Alanis Morrisette.
“I started writing my own lyrics after listening to Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill album. She’s my idol. I even remember drawing my own mock up album covers; I think that was in Grade 6. Tapos noong High School I started performing live na, like flag ceremonies, school things, stuff like that,” he recounted.
At age 16, Loonie with best friend Ron Henley aka Xplisit, joined ‘Rappublic of the Philippines’ as the group Stick Figgas in the noontime variety show, ‘Eat Bulaga!’ and though they didn’t win, they didn’t lose either.
The competition put Loonie in the radar of Francis M, and from there Loonie became Francis M’s “apostle” and part of his crew of “hype men” during gigs and concerts.
“When I first got a text from one of Francis M’s crew, I couldn’t believe it. I even had to ask around to make sure it wasn’t a joke. It turns out he really liked our performance and after that I found myself working with one of the most respected icons in the industry,” he narrated.
For six years Loonie learned from the best honing his rap skills both in English and Tagalog. In 2002, he was featured in the Rappublic Vol. 1 album under BMG Records while his group Stick Figgas released Critical Condition, their critically-acclaimed debut album from 6000 Goonz.
Loonie recalled how Francis M. introduced him to the hip-hop scene in the Philippines, recalling that the Master Rapper even featured him in a song called The Light that was included in DJ Arbie Won’s United Freestyles V2 compilation album in 2003. For the next few years after that Loonie remained an active presence in the local battle scene up until the Stick Figgas’ debut album Critical Condition was finished and released.
His music is impressive but it his fast and furious rap style that made him a force to be reckoned with. He was crowned 2004’s Power Emcee 108 Battle Champion and became the undisputed Fliptop King.
Hymns, synonyms and other literary devices
Maybe its because of the teachings of Francis M, the respect for Gloc 9 or the influence of foreign Hip hop icons such as Emimen, because Loonie isn’t your average rapper– his messages run deep and his honesty is often brutal.
“I try to make my rap more conversational and reality-based, mga in your face topics not normally tackled by other artists who prefer to do love songs or gangster.”
“Mas gusto ko yung mga social topics or human psyche, like my current single Tao Lang, which is about human frailty and our imperfections.”
Tao Lang likewise deals with the challenges he has faced throughout his career, including fans who ask him for impromptu rap battles — and his personal stuff.
“Naubos na yata yung mga cap at accessories dahil laging nahihingi sa akin, akala siguro nila dahil may million hits na ako sa Youtube eh mayaman na din ako.” Loonie said with a smile.
He said he learned how to adapt to the music scene because of Francis M.
“Francis M he has this ability to ride the wave pero may sarili siyang direction. Kayang niyang itame yng waters ng ibat ibang eksena—ride the wave pero may sarili din siyang wave,” he pointed out.
As for his idol Gloc 9, Loonie admits he was even more starstruck when he first met the famous rapper.
“I looked at Francis M kase more as a mentor or teacher, kaya andun talaga yung respeto, si Gloc naman is my idol so ayun nastarstruck ako when we were introduced.”
“If Gloc took the niche left by Francis M, ako naman I wanted my songs to be more in your face and try to make it more modern as possible, mas bago mas specific ang mga topics.”
“Medyo detached, minsan self bashing and the appeal relies on the use of words and comedy. I also try to use the new school way of rhyming which is multi-syllabic– instead of just rhyming words I rhyme phrases.”
As a result of all those word games and being a wide reader, Loonie uses a variety of literary devices in his lyrics– from similes, metaphors, assonance, etc., and mix them up in his English, Tagalog and sometimes Visayan verses.”
His compares his song writing technique to reverse engineering, saying he already knows the end result and goes way back to filling in the words.
Loonie is set to put the Philippines on the world map of hip-hop and rap music again, as he embarks on his first US and Canada tour. Tour dates are as follows: September 7 – San Francisco (FOX Theater), September 8 – Los Angeles (Beyond The Stars Palace), September 9 – San Diego (4th & B), September 14 – Toronto, Canada (kool Haus), and September 15 – Chicago (Capitol Club).