The brainchild of producers NEXXFRIDAY and NAKI, WAYBETTR sets the trend for new hip-hop releases in the country
Fresh from a partnership with VIVA Music Group, local record label and artist collective WAYBETTR is setting the tone for the next generation of Filipino hip-hop acts. With twenty-something producers NEXXFRIDAY (Emmanuel Salen) and NAKI (Wilde Quimson) at the helm of the label, ambition knows no limits. We learned from a recent press con that the two co-founders fused one’s digital marketing background and the other’s natural talent for music production to create a space that can hone and house upcoming artists and creatives. While hiphop acts as their foundation, there’s already enough genre-bending happening in the industry that doesn’t so much warrant sticking on labels anymore. Instead, the focus remains on just being as authentic as possible.
With the backing of a major label now, WAYBETTR has resources and tools at their disposal that they’d rather not skimp on. They're adamant to promise sound quality without the need to police lyrical content and creative expression. Only four artists are currently part of their roster as the collective eases into what seem like bimonthly releases, sticking to their goal of keeping their audience engaged in an all-digital landscape. Here’s a rundown of the first three releases from the label since March, all threaded by their mid-tempo trap beats, groovy late night vibes, and a seamless mix of Filipino and English lyrics that make up the sound of local hiphop today.
Gusto With Ya by DENY
At the time of writing, DENY’s Gusto With Ya sits on the 16th spot on the Viral 50 – Philippines chart on Spotify. If that isn’t telling of the track’s mainstream appeal only a mere month after release, I don’t what is. Growing up in a musically-inclined family, DENY (pronounced de-knee, real name Denise Pimping) shares at a recent press con that she started off with ballads and pop. Since becoming friends with rapper Because and joining his band in high school, she’s been exposed to different kinds of music apart from what she grew up with and eventually solidified her footing in R&B. In Gusto With Ya, she showcases her sultry vocals while singing about the paradox of being an independent woman who can’t help but desire some company along for the ride.
Consider It Done by NEXXFRIDAY, Because, LON Daniel
The label’s second release Consider It Done is a collab between NEXXFRIDAY (who’s produced most of James Reid’s releases from 2019 like Fiend, Soul Love, and Healing, among others), and rappers Because and LON Daniel. It’s a rap/hiphop track banking on that classic hiphop air of arrogance, delivering bars about the daily grind with a necessary dash of social and political commentary.
Please You by JAE K
Released just last Friday, JAE K’s Please You enters sensual territory. It's a step further from last year’s Bloom, a bright laid-back track tracing the onset of falling in love. JAE K’s flits easily between charged and fiery vocals and rap as he sings about deep desires.
There are two other artists currently on WAYBETTR’s roster. One is FTD, who comes from the rap battle league scene, and the other is Tu$ Brother$, whose music NAKI describes as the heavy metal of hiphop. With the promise of bringing quality music to the table, the label’s first three releases surely don’t cut back on clean and sophisticated production, all the more keeping our ears open for the releases already underway.
It doesn’t stop at music either. While they start building the label with artists and producers first, they’re also open to putting the spotlight on graphic designers, video editors, and other artists from different mediums down the line. Three more acts will be joining the label's roster within the year. WAYBETTR is bound to keep making waves and setting examples for the local hiphop community. What used to be part of niche territory has now punctured its way through the mainstream, a success deserving of a group of like-minded creatives who dream to push the industry forward.
Words Bea Mata
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver