The Biggest Hip-Hop Festival in the Philippines is Happening Next Month

And it's not just about rap and hip-hop battles.
IMAGE Niña Sandejas

To get an idea about hip-hop and rap battles, just watch Curtis Hanson’s excellent 2003 film 8 Mile starring Eminem. In the Philippines, there’s been a thriving hip-hop culture for years, but it wasn’t until 2010 when the FlipTop Battle League was founded that the movement gained structure and enthusiasts had a formal venue to display their talents. 

And now, ten years later, FlipTop Battle has become nothing less than a cultural phenomenon. The platform has notched over 1.5 billion views on YouTube and has launched the careers of some pretty well-known names, some of whom have crossed over to the mainstream, like Loonie, Abra, and Shehyee. Next month, FlipTop is celebrating a whole decade through what it’s calling as the biggest hip-hop music festival in the Philippines.

Photo by Niña Sandejas.

The FlipTop Festival will feature more than 200 artists from all over the country, headlined by US-based artists Bambu and Rocky Rivera. They will be joined by household names in Filipino rap and hip-hop like Gloc-9, Shanti Dope, Abra, Shehyee, PriceTagg, Ron Henley, Al James, Illustrado, Shernan, Sinio, Tipsy D, Smugglaz, Zaito, Dello, Kemikal Ali, Arbie Won, and Supreme Fist.


According to organizers, the festival hopes to “defy the rulebook” with a carefully curated programming that embraces all elements of hip-hop, not just music itself and battle rap. This means other aspects of the culture such as turntablism and DJ-ing, b-boying or break dancing, and graffiti.

“The festival aims to really be as inclusive as possible, and more importantly, to have everyone represented properly,” says Alaric Riam Yuson, popularly known as Anygma, and co-founder of FlipTop Battle League. “As much as hip-hop has grown in the last decade, with every element, region, style, and era, it’s really not easy to make sure that no one is left out. So ultimately, we’ll try to achieve that; to get literally everyone to really represent and celebrate what we’ve accomplished as a culture.”

Photo by Niña Sandejas.

Yuson adds that the fetsival won’t rely on the familiar and the formulaic, and instead would foster a well-represented festival that cuts across various sensibilities and disciplines in urban music.

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“Some might assume that, having our roots as a rap battle league, our festival will be mostly about battle rap,” he says. “But we’ve been reminding people for months now that, yes there will be a few battles, but they won’t be highlighted over everything else going on in the festival. We’re trying to get everyone! We have a few international artists, talents from the entire archipelago, veterans and pioneers, new-school cats, street entrepreneurs… everyone!”

The FlipTop Festival is happening on February 7 and 8, 2020 at Aseana City. For more information, visit the official website and the Facebook page.



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Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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