October 2, 2012

ALBUM REVIEW: Various Artists - The Pharmer’s Guide To Higher Ground (2012)

Exactly 6 months ago, we wrote about how in a sudden turn of events, Filipino hiphop swept away the game with its steel might of a presence, making torrential waves like it’s the ‘90s again when Francis Magalona and Andrew E. ruled mainstream radio and pioneering rap groups Mastaplann, Death Threat and Pamilia Dimagiba took the genre to an entirely different level of critical and commercial success. My colleague Ian Urrutia wrote back then:

"The past few months witnessed the Philippine urban music scene unfurl into a monstrous force. From an outsider point of view, it’s amazing to see the baby steps expand into something bigger and wider, with everyone in the community setting aside their differences to just concentrate in improving their respective craft. The recent development also showed how flourishing the actual scene is. It started out with Fliptop surprisingly becoming a phenomenal platform in reintroducing the local underground hiphop culture to a wider audience, with Youtube hits of rap battles amassing over a million internet views and with popular comedy gag show, Bubble Gang doing spin-off by way of Boy Pickup sgement. Also every week, thanks to the cooperation of blog buzz and social networking sites, we get to hear fantastic teasers of upcoming releases, from People’s Future to Mighty Miscellaneous, from Loonie to the roster of Deeper Manila talents." 

Fast forward to 2012, rap/hiphop continues to push and break boundaries with like-minded individuals sending socially sentient messages that provoke and stir reactions from people of different backgrounds, combining witty street wordplay with storytelling based from day to day experiences and the current socio-political landscape.

Out of nowhere, from what seems to be another high tipping point in urban music this stretch of our generation, Beat Productions released the 14-track mixtape The Pharmer’s Guide To Higher Ground featuring a new wave of forward-thinking Filipino MCs and beatmakers dedicated to changing the game of local hiphop. Filled with cut-like rhymes and sharp-witted punch lines, its compilation of verses chokes you with its smorgasbord of eclectic thoughts, its charm embedded in its message of invincibility and thirst for spreading the wildfire in music that fuels the drive to speak their mind. Collectively, the MCs spit every verse with such vigor as if their lives depended on it. And there, lies its heart and wit.

Abandoning prodigious and boisterous production for a stab at minimalist brilliance, Liquid, Skarm, Flexx and Lloyd sticks to raw, head-nodding beats (with able assistance from beat honchos Ill Primitivo and DJ Fresh-Lee) and gives us a whiplash of clever wordplay snatched from progressive think pieces. Whether it's playing with their inner Peter Pan in “Time is Blind,” laying the blueprint of their mental animation in “Form the Concepts”, displaying the goods in “Forces We Deliver”, or raising the bar in “Float”, they keep the rad meter in jaunty pace.

Needless to say, there are more exciting things to be expected from the underground hip hop scene. In the meantime, these MCs are repping the game victoriously, and it’s clear that they’re gunning for something that is personal to them, yet cuts through a more universal layer that a lot of people can relate to. And at this rate, there’s just no going home with this impressive bunch of raw, street poetry. - Mary Christine Galang B+ 


  1. Would be really helpful for your album reviews if you included some info on where these albums can be bought/downloaded. Please consider adding them in the future? Thanks.

  2. download link can be found here:




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