Filipino rappers

Shaping the new generation of Pinoy hip-hop with Spotify RADAR artist Hev Abi

Juno Reyes

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Shaping the new generation of Pinoy hip-hop with Spotify RADAR artist Hev Abi

RADAR ARTIST. Pinoy hip-hop giant Hev Abi is one of the latest Filipino artists to make it to the Spotify RADAR class of 2024.

Spotify Philippines

'Ang gusto kong maiwan sa mga tao is kung paano ako maging creative sa mga ginagawa ko, kasi pinipili ko talagang maging weird sa mga ginagawa ko para lumalabas ‘yung mga ‘di pangkaraniwan,' Hev Abi says

MANILA, Philippines – Hev Abi’s music has found its way into the playlists of millions of Filipinos at the speed of light. 

Shaping the new generation of Pinoy hip-hop with Spotify RADAR artist Hev Abi

He isn’t just a one-hit wonder. At one point, he had even taken up six spots on the Spotify Philippines chart, registering hits like “Babaero,” “Walang Alam,” “Alam Mo Ba Girl,” “Makasarili Malambing,” “Sumugal,” and “Lil Kasalanan Shortie.” 

It’s clear that Hev Abi has already figured out how to charm his audience – even those who weren’t fans of hip-hop prior to coming across his music. But what is it about the Spotify RADAR artist’s songs that draws so many people in? 

Perhaps it’s how straightforward he is with his craft. 

“Kulong, sulat, gawa, record (Shut in, write, work, record),” Hev Abi replied when Rappler asked him how he got in the zone to create some of his best songs. 

Photo courtesy of Spotify Philippines

He even admitted that he doesn’t have a creative process he religiously abides by. He simply makes the music he wants to hear, which has undoubtedly worked well for him. 

“Wala akong iisang way nang paggawa ng kanta. Kapag gumagawa ako ng kanta, wala naman akong ine-aim. Bahala na kung anong mangyari,” he said. 

(I don’t have a set way of creating music. When I make music, I don’t aim for anything in particular. Whatever happens, happens.) 

Even his artist bio on Spotify is just two words long: “Sobrang (Very) downtown.” But it’s more than enough to set him apart from the rest. 

The makings of Hev Abi

Like many artists, Hev Abi began creating his own music to emulate rappers like Kanye West and Tyler, the Creator, whom he had spent years looking up to leading up to his own debut in the local music industry. 

But there was another thing that inspired the start of Hev Abi’s music career: his hometown, Quezon City. 

Hev Abi pays homage to Quezon City through his music any chance he gets. It’s arguably the one thing any of the young hip-hop artist’s listeners are bound to remember. Just take for example his top hit “WELCOME2DTQ” and his remix of Young Nudy and 21 Savage’s “Peaches & Eggplants,” aptly titled “QC Girls.” 

Fittingly, his first-ever solo concert on April 28 is set to be held in Quezon City, too, and is, of course, titled “Morato Most Wanted” – a nod to the rapper’s favorite place in the city: Tomas Morato. 

“[It’s a] hip-hop thing. Dito ako lumaki eh, [sa] bahay, sa ’min, ng mga tropa dito,” he explained about his love for the city. 

(It’s a hip-hop thing. This is where I grew up, our house, and my friends here.)

With all the milestones he’s already achieved thus far, you’d expect that the outpouring of Hev Abi’s success had come as a complete shock to him. But he had always known that he would eventually make it big. 

“Una pa lang naman, parang alam ko na na darating sa ganito. Hindi nakakagulat na nakakagulat na lang din. Normal pa rin. Hindi naman nakakapanibago. Ganon pa rin ako kung paano ako dati,” he said. 

(From the start, I already knew it would reach this point. It’s not surprising, but at the same time, it is. Everything’s still normal. It didn’t come as a surprise. I’m still the same person I was before.) 

“Ayos! Tama ka (Great! You were right),” he said, when we asked him to tell a message to his younger self. 

It was this confidence and no-nonsense attitude that had helped push Hev Abi further up the charts. But while he knew the success would come eventually, he admitted that he didn’t think it would happen this early into his career.

Expect ko namang mangyari ‘yung mga ganito, pero hindi ko inexpect na ganito kabilis. Nakaka-overwhelm siya sa akin paminsan-minsan pero pinapahalagahan ko sarili ko. pinapalibutan ko ‘yung sarili ko ng mga tamang tao para mas maging swabe ‘yung takbo ng career ko,” Hev Abi told Rappler. 

(I expected it to happen, but I didn’t expect it to happen this fast. Sometimes, it gets overwhelming, but I take care of myself. I surround myself with the right people so the flow of my career becomes even smoother.) 

The new generation of local hip-hop

It’s safe to say that Hev Abi is on the frontlines of the new generation of Filipino hip-hop. He had grown up listening to the genre, and had pretty much borne witness to the evolution to what it is now – attesting that it’s the music and culture of local hip-hop that has gone through the most changes from his childhood to the present. In fact, it was these changes that shaped his lyricism. 

“Nung nagsisimula ako, mas lamang ‘yung culture ng battle rap kaysa sa music, kumpara ngayon na mas litaw na litaw na ‘yung mga gumagawa ng rap music kaysa sa mga ruma-rap battle. Nakatulong din sa akin ‘yun sa pagsusulat ng lyrics na ganyan ‘yung era na kinalakihan ko kahit papaano. Doon ko siguro nakuha ‘yung mga humor-humor sa lyrics ko,” he shared.

(When I was just starting out, the culture of battle rap was more prominent than music, compared to now where rap music is more clear-cut over those who do rap battles. I think that’s where I got the humor in my lyrics.) 

With the evolution of local hip-hop came its timely rise, too. More and more Filipinos have been hooked by the genre, and Hev Abi is one of the artists we have to thank for that. The young rapper had pulled in a wave of what the internet hilariously calls “Hev Abi enjoyers,” and they just seem to keep growing by the second. 

Hev Abi attributes this to Filipinos’ knack for having a good time. 

“Ugali na ng Pilipino na gawing masaya ang kahit anong mga bagay. In hip-hop, [it’s the] same thing. Lumalabas din ‘yung mga kulit ng tao ‘pag nakikinig ng hip-hop, ‘yung mga nagtatatalon-talon [at] nagsasalita ng mga hindi naman dapat sabihin. Lumalabas ang mga kulit ng tao, natutuwa sila. Para sa akin, ‘yun ang bakit mas nakikilala pa lalo ang hip-hop,” he explained. 

(Filipinos have a habit of making anything fun. In hip-hop, [it’s the] same thing. People’s excitement jumps out when they listen to hip-hop, in the sense that they jump around and say things that shouldn’t be said. For me, that’s why hip-hop is becoming more well-known now.) 

As the “Para Sa Streets” rapper continues to make the music he and millions of Filipinos love, there’s only one legacy he wants to leave behind: his creativity. 

“Ang gusto kong maiwan sa mga tao is kung paano ako maging creative sa mga ginagawa ko kasi pinipili ko talagang maging weird sa mga ginagawa ko para lumalabas ‘yung mga ‘di pangkaraniwan. Kung may madadampot man sila sa akin, sana ‘yun na lang kasi natutuwa ako ‘pag may mga taong nagpapakita ng kakulitan nila sa mga ginagawa nila,” he said.

(I want to leave people with my creativity because I really choose to be weird with what I do so I can bring out the unusual. If people had to pick something up from me, I hope it’s my creativity because it makes me happy to see people show their excitement in what they do.) –

Check out the Spotify RADAR playlist here.

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