Francis M, Freeman once again - Sounds Familiar
- Baby A. Gil () - October 4, 2000 - 12:00am
Alive and gritty from the very first cut, the new album Freeman 2 shows that FrancisM has not at all lost his flair for hip hop. You doubtless recall that FrancisM is really Francis Magalona, the former Bagets actor turned recording artist. He came to be known as The Man from Manila after he took Pinoy rap to the top of the hit charts some 10 years ago with his Mga Kababayan Ko. The tune introduced local listeners to the vast potentials of the new music medium and became the start of an unceasing flow of rap recordings from local acts, most of them I must say of excellent quality, that continues to this day.

Despite his success as a rapper though, the volatile and talented son of the late screen legends Pancho Magalona and Tita Duran, clearly had no intention of allowing himself to be pigeon-holed into a rut even in a hip hop one. He experimented with his music and other things and it was not at all uncommon to find him doing rock, jazz, folksongs, or cross-dressing in his subsequent albums like Kaleidoscope World, Freeman, The Oddventures of Mr. Cool and others.

FrancisM’s forays into the untested were not always successful. He still has to come up with something as big as Mga Kababayan Ko, but you really have to hand it to this guy as far as guts, individuality and the unceasing search for the new are concerned. He is one artist who will never rest on past laurels. He is somebody who will always strive to be better at his craft and if not, he will at the very least, come out different and very interesting.

But he cannot really blame us for wanting to hear more of what he does best especially during times like these when rap music has already developed into assorted directions and given birth to diverse progeny. And although he does sing, Ryan Cayabyab’s Nais Ko in his latest album, real rap is what we get in Freeman 2. So rejoice! all of you, FrancisM raps again and he sounds great. The rhymes and alliteration crackles, Senseless. The language is raw and strikes a lot of sensitive chords, Magna Cum Nakaw. The entire production is upbeat, totally energized, Spirit Warriors.

There are actually 23 cuts in the album including several spoken bytes from friends. Watawat, which was written for the commemoration of the Philippine Centennial provides FrancisM with a good jumping off point for his new works, which show the same kind of exciting vibrance. Andrew E., the country’s other successful rapper joins the fun in Kaligtasan. So does the rap group MastaPlann with Wisdomination. Even Michael V., who began his career as a rapper took time to record something for FrancisM and speaks in Bilib Ka Ba?

The other tunes included are Meltdown, Pintados, Imachination, Sunglasses, the Corey Hart hit which he does with Johnny Krush and Caine, Wala Ka! with ESS 1, Life Goes By, and Migraine, featuring ESS 1 & 2. Also around for the ride is FrancisM’s band, the Hardware Syndrome.

The carrier single is titled Luv 4 Lyf and here he says:

Who’s to live and who’s to die?

Who decides who’s crucified?

Why must war be part of life?

So much anger and so much strife

So much pain, there’s so much hate

So many leftovers on the plate.

There’s so many voices runnin’ in my head

And you know what they said? They said...

Unify and so not divide

Fortify (go forth) and multiply

Sow the seeds of love and life

Love4life! Love4life!

Like rap, loving life is also something FrancisM does very well. And he really does live up to the order to multiply! Although he and his wife, Pia Arroyo still look like dating teenagers, they are now actually the parents of eight, I repeat, eight children, two of whom are on the cover of the Freeman 2 album. One hugs a long-haired dashound while the other, the still to be named dragon baby, is in an ultrasound photograph.

I think FrancisM has more kids than albums, but though these do not come as often, they are also well-thought out, very personal efforts that say a lot about a constantly evolving man.

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