Sunday, November 25, 2012

ALARIC RIAM YUSON: THE FATHER OF FLIPTOP (First of four parts) (August 15, 2011)

“FlipTop Kru is supposed to be an events and artist managing organization with its first project in the FlipTop Battle League. The battle league is basically the Philippines’ version of the new and globally accepted format of rap battling. It houses an English Conference and a Tagalog/Filipino Conference and will be officially expanding into more regional divisions soon. Also, to clarify once and for all, FlipTop refers to our brand, company, league, what have you, AND NOT the act of battling itself. It’s a proper noun and nothing else; not a verb, common noun, or however else it’s being used by kids today.”

That was the FlipTop Kru ship captain speaking from Toronto where he was invited to take part in Canada's Premiere Hiphop Battle League. Last weekend, together with Protégé, he represented our country to the King of the DOT (KOTD) World Domination 2 -- the biggest battle event of 2011 -- or the only event this year with battlers from different countries other than Canada, like the Australia, England, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, U.S., and, for the first time, the Philippines!

Tonight he will be performing in a Pinoy-owned bar M or Minerva Studio in Ontario!

And listening to its followers, he deserves an award from the Komisyon ng Wikang Filipino for making our national language alive here and abroad!

He is none other than Anygma, who graduated last year with a B.A. Philosophy degree, in a Pre-Divinity Track, from Ateneo de Manila University! Unmasked, he is also known as Aric, or Alaric Riam Macaraig Yuson.

Vim Nadera: You are hailed as “The Father of Flip Top in the Philippines.” What can you say about it?
AY: Well, I haven’t actually heard that specific title but I did start/found FlipTop so I guess it’s accurate.

VN: Kindly educate us on the dramatis persona, the process, and everything.
AY: We first started out as a two-man team. There’s our resident videographer and video editor, Kevin a.k.a. DJ Umph of the Mighty Miscellaneous, and everything else that had to be done was handled by me. I definitely multitask as founder/president of the league, main organizer (from budget to logistics), as well as host of the events. Since then we have expanded our staff to accommodate our other events such as the Graffiti Battles and Mindfields HipHop night, and several other roles in order to improve the machinery of FlipTop. The most integral step to organizing the league and eventually the match ups is being completely familiar with the HipHop scene/community and its do’s and don’ts. Then there are certain things that I have to be firm about – sometimes to the point of imposition – in order for the participants to be on the same page as the rest of the league so as to maximize the purpose of the whole organization. There’s no real secret to organizing the league but if I had to give an example of my process, I’d say I go about it as logically as possible. After getting an idea of how other leagues work in context of their respective circumstances, I think of how I can apply it to the local scene. I identify what can work, what won’t work, and what’ll never work. Next logical step would be to figure out how and why this and that should be enacted or implemented. If there are any logical or illogical obstacles, I study how I can possibly go around it, if at all it’s worth pursuing in the long run. It might be hard for non-HipHop oriented people to understand as a more thorough explanation would involve extensive comparison and contrast among leagues and their particular context or paradigm. In short, as with many countless things in the world, some things may work perfectly in certain areas but will fail miserably in other areas. My role then, to break it down conceptually, is to familiarize myself with such and such, in order to adapt, all for the purpose of application.

VN: What are the rules and regulations?
AY: The only rigid rule in FlipTop is that the participating Emcees cannot let the battle turn physical. No actual threatening or excessive physical contact with the opponent, so as to avoid having a fight and ultimately having to ban the people involved. The rest of the regulations are all part of the format. The battles are a cappella, do not make use of a microphone (as much as possible), and have rounds that are set and timed according to what the opponents agree on. Other details such as honoring an opponent’s request not to mention or involve certain things (ex. a recently deceased relative or other sensitive topics) are also agreed upon by the opponents beforehand.

The new format is also openly written or prepared for, as opposed to the older format of supposedly not having anything prepared for one’s opponent and thus spontaneously coming up with whatever it takes to beat the opponent (this is better known as a freestyle battle). The matchups are finalized a month or so before the event itself and the participating Emcees or battle rappers have that time to prepare and strategize against their opponent. This should make for more concentrated and consistent content as opposed to the arguably less entertaining, hit-or-miss, open-endedness of the freestyle battles. Other than that, it’s no holds barred come battle time.

VN: Do you follow an international guideline like, say, the Olympics?
AY: The new format of battling is the closest thing to an international guideline. The rest is up to the particular league to modify.

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