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Teen rapper Tanikala writes about social issues
The Gen Z rapper leads the lineup of young Pinoy MCs featured in Kayumanggi, the official theme song of the Jo Koy: In His Elements comedy special on Netflix. Produced by Morobeats and !llmind, with choreography by US hip-hop crew Jabbawockeez, the music video just premiered over the weekend.

Teen rapper Tanikala writes about social issues

Nathalie Tomada (The Philippine Star) - October 8, 2020 - 12:00am

When Fil-Am stand-up comedian Jo Koy premiered last June his Netflix comedy special In His Elements, he turned the spotlight on some of the country’s comedians, DJs, B-boys and music artists, including the 17-year-old Tanikala.

The Gen Z rapper led the line-up of young Pinoy MCs spitting rhymes in Kayumanggi, the special’s official theme song whose music video just dropped on Jo Koy’s digital platforms last Oct. 3. Also featured were female rappers A and Fateeha.

Tanikala, whose real name is Eufrenzy Jeano Mira Chichioco, grew his passion in rap after witnessing local rappers doing freestyle in his hometown in Dasmariñas, Cavite. At age 14, he joined an online rap battle where he was discovered by DJ Medmessiah, the man behind the independent record label Morobeats.

“He didn’t make it with the judges but when I saw him, may mga choices of words siya that struck me. I said, if I’d work on this kid, he’s going to be great, just give me one to two years. I just took the chance,” DJ Medmessiah said in an interview with The STAR.

Fast-forward to the chance to be part of Jo Koy’s In His Elements. DJ Medmessiah shared, “Jo Koy’s (team) reached out to me — the original plan was to make a beat with Grammy award-winning producer !llmind to collaborate and make a background beat for the Jo Koy: In His Elements show. (But) I told them if we’re just going to make a beat, it’s not going to make an impact in the Philippines.”

He presented to them Kayumanggi, which at the time was a song still in progress. Before they knew it, the theme was completed in just four hours, with Tanikala contributing his own fiery lyrics to the infectious, raise-your-flag song.

The Grade 10 student proudly looked back on the experience: “Minsan lang yun nangyari sa buhay ko na ma-represent yung Pilipinas and ginawa ko ang lahat. ‘Pag nakita po yun ng manonood, ‘pag narinig po nila, o bata lang gumawa, ni-represent niya ang Pinas, nakakagulat. Si Jo Koy, Pinoy din po kaya ko po ginawa. Masaya talaga yung experience na yun!”

Since that “mainstream” debut, he has only received encouragement and support to go after his music dreams. Last month, he launched his first solo album featuring 10 tracks all written by him and produced by DJ Medmessiah.

Going by his songs, it’s not hard to imagine that Tanikala (his stage name came from the first rap verses he composed) has the makings of a raptivisit, a young voice who dares to sing about “grown-up” topics such as social issues affecting him and his community.

Apart from being easy to mentor, DJ Medmessiah said of the teenager: “He watches the news, he’s very observant with what’s going on in the society, even with his age, and that convinced na okay, it’s time na. Supposedly, (we planned on) an EP with five to six songs, then we decided to release a full-scale album.”

One of the songs is Walang Kibo, which has the rapper raising questions about illegal drug use among the youth. He said, “Wala naman siyang sinisisi, yung kantang yun, gusto ko lang magising lahat. Parang tanong lang. Bakit ganito? Di masugpo? Saan nanggagaling? Sino naglalagay dito? Sino nagpapaikot? Bakit po ganun? Sila yung kakampi natin pero sila yung nagpapagana ng maling sistema?”

Tawag Ng Laman, on the other hand, is a commentary on social media manipulation. Palaso tells about falling in love for the first time. “Nangyari din sa akin, sa totoo lang po,” the teenager admitted with a laugh. These songs are accessible via YouTube.

Group photo as seen in the closing scene of the official Kayumanggi music video
Jam Berboso Morale

According to Tanikala, he takes inspiration from the music and careers of Pinoy rap stars Gloc-9, Shanti Dope, Ron Henley, as well as the underground artist ISLA, who is the first rapper he saw perform and the “old-school” American rapper Tech N9ne.

Tanikala and DJ Medmessiah are also being managed by Anna Macquillier under the US-based independent talent representation Blackseed Entertainment. Blackseed Entertainment said that it has partnered up with Morobeats “to help develop more upcoming talents internationally.”

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