With raw energy, unfiltered expression, and a beat that connects with the heartbeat of the streets, hip-hop is once again making its presence in the music landscape.
However, how is the current state of the hip-hop genre? Has there been a shift in how it is performed, or has it been influenced by the modern era?
From the perspective of an emerging Filipino rapper, WAIIAN, told SoundStrip that the hip-hop genre is “ever changing.”
“Every year, there’s always new artists to push the limit of whatever the last guy did and it’s always challenging. It’s always colorful and always has stories here and there. I think it’s beautiful,” he said.
WAIIAN also urged caution about the impact of messages in hip-hop, particularly considering the majority of listeners are young. He emphasized the importance of being mindful, stating that promoting stereotypes like drug use, objectifying women, or glorifying violence isn’t ideal.
While he acknowledged the diversity in expressions within hip-hop, “It’s not that bad because everybody got to express. That’s their life, that’s their story, and that’s what they put in their music.” However, WAIIAN positioned himself as an observer, and not conforming to certain stereotypes in his own musical expression.
The weight of expectations
For artists signed by major music labels, success often goes hand in hand with expectations and pressures.
WAIIAN, signed under Sony Music Entertainment, peels back the curtain on the challenges that accompany the spotlight.
At 26 years old, WAIIAN acknowledges the palpable pressure that comes with being part of such a major label.
He candidly shares, “There’s a little pressure because you have to come up with something.” The expectation to create an album that resonates not only with personal experiences but also with a global audience adds a layer of complexity to the creative process.
The responsibility of crafting music that becomes a universal experience is not lost on WAIIAN. “Because you’re being asked to make an album that you’re listening to, to the world,” he explains.
In the intricate dance between artistic expression and audience expectations, WAIIAN shares his approach. “I try my best to think about it,” he says, referring to the listeners.
However, he emphasizes that this consideration doesn’t infiltrate the creative process. The artist’s focus on the audience intensifies post-creation, asking the pivotal question, “Will this song work?”
One of WAIIAN’s unique philosophies comes from his conscious effort to detach from the outcome of his music. “But I try my best not to hold an attachment to the outcome of the music because it’s going to affect the quality of the song,” he asserts.
A Glimpse into WAIIAN’s World
Recently, WAIIAN and his music label management unveiled his new music video titled “Pablo” (WAIIAN’s real name) that captures a day in the life of him, where he finds happiness and contentment in the simplest of things.
What sets WAIIAN’s latest music, “Pablo” apart is its refreshing and wholesome vibe, a departure from the prevailing dark and gritty trends in the industry.
“The hardships, the pain, the grief. The grieving I’ve done for three years. It hits me with a very deep heart,” he said.
It was written by WAIIAN himself and produced by Tatz Maven, the laid-back tune serves as the focus track of his third studio album, WEYAAT?, which was released on December 1, 2023
The nine -track album is theoretically diverse but distinctly shaped by his keen sense of self-awareness. Led by the last track of the same name and new single “Pablo,” “WEYAAT?” is a slang for “WAIIAN, where are you at?” which is his way of reintroducing himself to the world after a three-year sabbatical in music.
When asked about potential apprehensions regarding audience reception, he confidently stated, “I create the music I would love to listen to.” This commitment to personal authenticity shines through in the album that promises a unique listening experience for fans.
Addressing his influences, he is immersed in Yacht Rock and enjoys the Daytime Gang’s tunes during nighttime. He mentions a 90% focus on hip-hop, with a sprinkle of 10% yacht rock, jazz, and some low-fi beats.
Despite this, WAIIAN’s eclectic taste shines through, he reveals a diverse palette, with a predominant love for hip-hop, citing Pablo de Pistola, Kendrick Lamar, and Isai Rashad as major inspirations. Surprisingly, Filipino music takes a backseat in his preferences, with a preference for those who truly know him.
Unknown future in music and beyond
In a contemplative moment, WAIIAN reflects on the trajectory of his music career, he acknowledges the transient nature of the industry and the advice from an old hip-hop sage.
He said that he grapples with the idea of transition and the need to leverage social influence into potential future ventures.
While recognizing the counsel that a music career doesn’t last forever, WAIIAN maintains a steadfast belief in the present, he expressed uncertainty about what lies beyond the current rap journey.
“But right now, I have a couple more albums in my body or whatever to put out to the world before I retire and look for something else to do,” he said.
From being a fingerboarder to a skateboarder and now a rapper, WAIIAN embraces the evolving chapters of his life. The future holds unknown possibilities, and the artist remains open to whatever may come next, even if it leads him to become a gardener or another unexpected path.
“I’m just appreciating everything that’s in my capacity to give to people,” he remarked.
With a sense of appreciation for the opportunities at hand, WAIIAN emphasizes living in the moment and delivering the best of his creative offerings. The answer to the question of future goals or milestones is one of fluidity and adaptability—an artist navigating the present while keeping the door open for whatever the future may unfold.
Image credits: John Eiron R. Francisco