Happy Anniversary Fliptop Battle League!
Note: This interview took place late last year.
One of the well-known personalities in local Hip Hop community to date is Anygma (Alaric Yuson). The eminent President/Founder of FlipTop Battle League, emcee and son of well-respected Poet and Novelist Krip Yuson. He gained fame and respect by being the FOUNDER/Main Organizer, host and referee who always at the middle between two or more emcees engaging in a 3 – 1 minute rounds of battlin’ with words. I’m not a Hip Hop artist nor an emcee; but playing with words is my passion as a writer. And when it comes to Hip Hop music, I’m always after the artist’s lyricism. That’s why I always look up to the ‘real deal’ Emcees who dedicate their skills and talent for the sake of delivering unique and effective written bars and quality music. In short, musical artists who are more serious for the craft.
I become a fan since my long time friend Brent Barrie (MDK) sent me a link with a note ‘Dude. Check this out.’ I was in the office that time back in Abu Dhabi, 2010.
I clicked on the link and it took me to a Youtube video (a rap battle between Fuego and Protégé) where Brent Barrie is one the battle judges. And as far as I can remember, FlipTop channel just broke my workloads watching all the rap battle videos in that same day. It hooked me up in an instant. Since then I’ve been patiently waiting for their latest uploads.
I met Anygma back in 2011 courtesy of Brent Barrie, to talk about business. We’ve been friends since and used to hang out with the crew after events and not just Anygma, his circle of friends was really cool to be with for you can’t feel a mite of discomfort. Arrogance is not on their vocabulary. Everyone is humble and genial, and that’s just one of the reasons why FlipTop reached this far.
JB: So how’s everything man? What are you doin’ lately?
Anygma: All good, man. Same, same. Keeping busy with the league, events, music, everything hiphop, as well as my personal responsibilities of course. Besides FlipTop, also been keeping busy with our independent label, Uprising. Still just trying to take it one day at a time.
JB: As a true – dedicated musical artist and advocate, could you let’s us know about some of your influences? Who and what made you embrace the Hip Hop culture?
Anygma: I’ve been an enthusiast for as long as I can remember. Always have had an inclination for the speedy delivery of words as well as the sound of rhyming even before I really got into rap and hiphop. My range of influence is really very rich and varied which I consider a blessing as not everyone gets the chance to be exposed to such, and at a relatively young age at that. Tons of influence and inspiration : from the homies I grew up with, both local and international artists, and a lot of people I’ve been lucky to meet along the way. Really too many to mention that I honestly get tired of this question (besides having answered them in other interviews, and also having difficulty in not wanting to leave anyone off the list).
JB: Let’s talk about UPRISING, man. You got a sick roster of artists and DJs and I’m actually not surprised at all; that each release is a piece of fine musical artistry. Aside from Illustrado, are there new additions to the label?
Anygma: Yeah there’s a few, man. Can’t really disclose all the information as we’d rather let our work speak for itself instead of hyping shit up. But I guess around the same time as Illustrado, we’ve added Apoc and Kartel. There are a few others in the works too, but as I said, can’t disclose that right now.
JB: Fliptop Battle League. First, I like to congratulate you and the whole crew behind this movement. The success is constant year after year. So, tell us about any plans and upcoming events. Any new emcees comin up on the battle stage?
Anygma: Thanks, man. Well we just recently concluded the nation-wide tryouts so you can expect a lot of new faces from all over the country in the upcoming battles. That’s over 4,000 applicants , dozens of provinces from our current 5 divisions, and it took almost a year for every step of the tryouts.
Just recenlty came back from our FlipTop Mindanao Division event in Davao and it was the best crowd we’ve had. Great battles as usual, also from the rookies, so theres’s a lot in store for those that religiously follow the league. Up coming battle-wise, we still have the Isabuhay Tournament, and a few more events up our sleeves.
JB: Let’s talk about ‘Beef’ between FlipTop emcees man. I mean, it’s spontaneous. And if ever some misunderstanding or strife broke out between emcees inside and outside the league, how would you handle it?
Anygma: That’s actually a big misconception in that there’s actually hardly any beef between the participants themselves. Out of the hundreds of events in the last six years, there have only been around three major altercations at events and all of them involved non-participants, and/or just event attendees.
Between the emcees, sure, like any group of people, there are always going to be a number of clashing personalities – especially in an ego-driven activity like battle rap. Most if not all tension though is usually resolved among the emcees themselves . But once in a while, I have had to jump in and mediate between groups or individuals. Nothing tabloid-worthy or anything, really, and nothing that level-headed or reasonable people can’t resolve.
JB: You’re one of the emcees of the rap group – A.M.P.O.N, and I’m sure you still hang out with the rest of the guys, but aside from your individual projects, day jobs or businesses, are there any collective plans in the future? An album for instance?
Anygma: AMPON has been pretty much defunct already for the last five years or more. I do still hang with most of them regularly, but we have all gone our separate ways in terms of projects and even interests. So no, no real plans or moves, as we haven’t planned or moved as a collective unit in a long time.
JB: Aside from supporting Fliptop and other campaigns that aspire a stiff and established Hip Hop culture in the Philippines, are there more things that need to be done by both sides (Artists & Supporters)?
Anygma: There’s always something that either side can work on. Both artists and fans/supporters could and should concentrate more on music, as that’s what all of this is about, really. Artists can and should put out more and better music; fans can and should support more and better music. Thing is with FlipTop we’ve been able to grab the attention of a lot of non-hiphop people , and the league really is primarily a platform for people to be exposed more to the local talent in order to support their music (being the ultimate product/end goal of an emcee). But you would be surprised that, within the many different circles of long-time hiphop enthusiasts, people still are very, very selective with what they will allow themselves to listen to. Of course everyone has their own tastes and preferences. But in my ideal world, I wish everyone were to take their level of hiphop appreciation further and further. Then of course we’d wish for more, actual support, as opposed to suportang laway, utak-talangka, and kaburautan.
JB: Thank you so much for your time and again, congratulations to you and to everyone involve on your ventures to keep not just Hip Hop but to OPM in general alive and loud. Any message to our readers and your supporters?
Anygma: Tuloy tuloy lang! There’s no end to what you can discover and do with hiphop, believe me!
Salamat din Jabs!
Once again, Happy Anniversary to Fliptop Battle League. Congratulations to my good friend Anygma, more power. And to all the fans, please let us continue to support this remarkable movement to keep them going.
Tigil-tigilan ang kaburautan na yan! H’wag piratahin.