The all-around performer breaks away from the confines of stardom
Boxing someone into a label has always been another way to keep the peace. Unfortunately, we all know that staying within neat little lines often stunts their growth and stifles creativity. But these never worked, and boundary-breaking individuals, professionals and artists continue defying the status quo despite what everyone says. Enter Ken, an artist who isn’t new to reinvention. Whether as a group with the entirety of SB19 or on his own as Felip, the all-around performer has had his own share of going beyond the confines of stardom.
Whether it’s the slow and steady Palayo or the commandeering energy of Bulan, we all know that once Felip takes the mic, everyone will tune in. Standing as another side to Ken, Felip serves as the intersection of the artist’s love for music and art. The singer transforms from his usual quiet and reserved persona to show the world another side of his artistry, someone fiercely confident. This time, Felip debuts a six-track EP called COM•PLEX, venturing further into the darker sounds of hip-hop and R&B. But, of course, he doesn’t forego substance as he ventures further with his stylistic choices.
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The first taste of Felip’s COM•PLEX comes in the form of ROCKSTA, the heavy-hitting hip-hop and pop-rap track that incorporates Japanese instrumental influences. Straightforward and leaves no space for nonsense, the track announces his arrival as a hyper-focused, no-nonsense artist. The track fits as the best introduction to another side of Felip. The side that goes against the current and marches to the beat of the drums he built with his own two hands.
From ROCKSTA alone, we can see that Felip slowly veers away from SB19-esque vocal techniques and explores melodic raps, to which he focuses heavily on SUPERIORITY. While the amplifier feedback and heavy guitar riff at the beginning might lead the listener to think that it’s an all-out rock track, the song soon rumbles into a bass-heavy beat with the artist rapping in both English and Bisaya. Brushing off all the copycats, Felip laments on exceeding himself. COM•PLEX’s pace picks up with MICTEST, a Jersey Club bop with Felip posing a challenge: “Wanna see you try your best.” Another English-Bisaya track, MICTEST offers a knockout punch of motivation and contagious drive that it’s almost a crime that the song only clocks around two minutes of addictive beats and hooks.
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But despite all the uplifting the EP has offered thus far, Felip doesn’t shy away from keeping it real. In DRINKSMOKE, the artist explores the lows we all experience that often lead people to seek the companionship of vices. And, of course, it's a vision that's terrible to those looking in from the outside, so Felip asks for some understanding. After all, not everything is what it seems. He carries the same sentiment in the dark track CRIMINAL, where he takes on the hats of two personas to explore human complexity. The slow and steady R&B instrumental backs Felip’s commentary on self-acceptance, negativity and all, a road paved by self-awareness.
COM•PLEX finishes with STRAYDOGS, another bass and snare-heavy hip-hop track that takes you on another high. It lies in the same thread with ROCKSTA, dripping with unapologetic confidence that only Felip exudes. But more than beating his chest and declaring his arrival, the singer sends a deeper message to A’TIN and the listener. Despite what the naysayers—in this case, STRAYDOGS—bark at you, keep your focus and do what you must. He has probably gone through the same journey and passes this wisdom with utmost confidence that they and we can, too.
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It’s through COM•PLEX that Felip is born anew. Fiercer, more confident and no-holds-barred, the artist breaks away from expectations. He shrugs off all the expectations that are heavy on the shoulders of a P-pop artist and fully comes into his own. And that manifests the ROCKSTA mindset he wants everyone to explore and follow—roaring loud and clear, rising against the neat little lines that keep us in place.
Art Macky Arquilla