Artist You Should Know: Bambu

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A Filipino-American rapper named Bambu de Pistola is emerging on the rap scene with significant messages to us all on the basis, or as he calls it, the issue of race in America. Bambu belongs to a label named Beat Rock Music. This label runs as a co-op, meaning the label is a collective. If one artist within Beat Rock Music does well, that will benefit the entire label collective with better resources instead of solely individual incentive.

Bambu de Pistola is an activist, father of a first grader, and MC currently based in Oakland, California. Bambu’s latest release came on September 11, 2016 with the help of his producers OJ the Producer and DJ Phatrick. Bambu’s eighth solo LP, "Prey for the Devil" is politically motivated, bringing about controversial conversations involving the government, police brutality, the military, division of race and so much more. The prey of the Devil in Bambu’s own metaphorical album, is the working-class, poor person of color with unequal opportunity. The Devil preying on the prey in his metaphor, would be the "white face," and systems America already has in place.

De Pistola has been practicing rap since his childhood, when he found he had a certain skill in freestyling at the young age of 12. Many of the controversial topics Bambu is influenced by in his music are part of the plight of his own life growing up in Watts in Southern California. Bambu was initiated into a Filipino street gang, Sanatas, with his cousins by the time he reached 15. By 16 years old, Bambu had been arrested for armed robbery. After serving time in a juvenile hall and missing out on a high school diploma, Bambu had very few options and joined the Marine Corps as a result.  

From his many experiences serving our country, LA gang affiliation during the late 80s early 90s, being a father, husband and activist, the artist feels he has a certain duty to encourage the American people to act upon these issues.  Along with preaching empowerment, the artist has extended his voice and helped service nonprofit organizations and community reform emphasizing the significance of Asian youth leadership. The artist hopes to bring to fruition the plan of opening a community center in Los Angeles, where groups can gather to share political ideologies and other ideas.  

The MC has even touched upon issues of gentrification in his music. A track from his 2014 album "Party Worker" outlines the importance of increasing the "Minimum Wage." Bambu brings forth matters that are very timely, as many cities and states around the country strive toward increasing the minimum wage for employees. “Cause it ain’t right to have right to keep the laws in favor of the job creator/ When the job creator ship a factory for cheaper labor.” Where Bambu now resides in Oakland, California, the minimum wage was recently raised to $12.25 an hour.

A track that outlines the significance of women in the work force is "Labor of a Girl," featuring Rocky Rivera, the female rapper married to Bambu. The track is patient and really shows Rivera’s skill as an MC. Bambu’s chorus is supportive and catchy, “The labor of a girl is why we breathing, play it/ And let the homies listen while she speaking.” His relaxed tone is perfectly placed between Rivera’s witty verses.

This is one of Bambu’s stronger tracks in terms of lyric, flow and production. Allen Jordan is portrayed as Bambu, and advised to “talk his shit on behalf of the people,” which is just what he does. The artist produced a violent, catastrophic music video with the guidance of OJ The Producer. In ‘PREY’ER,’ Bambu alludes to specific instances of police brutality in America, such as the Eric Garner and Oscar Grant cases.

Another hit track from his 2016 release, Bambu has unwithered flow in this track. The artist sounds more mature, seasoned and ready to spit knowledge to listeners — and not only concerning political issues. The rapper raps about the "info" in life that is spread and valuable to everyone. Bambu reminds us that his son has the "info," the label he belongs to has the "info," some teachers give "mis-info." The track changes into a jazzy beat that gets into the corrupt government in the Philippines, and ends with a complaisant Bambu sitting in the rain, contemplating this "info," and "data."

IN another track from his "Party Worker" album, Bambu is shown casually strolling through a well-lit city rapping to a fun, foreign beat. The music video is very visually stimulating, illustrating Bambu’s abstract ideas while he recites unique notions in a rhythmically strategic way.  

"Lean" opens with the artist changing into different clothes while comfortably rapping his conscience. The music video features pig squeals representing the police force, touches upon unaffordable health care, education and leaves you with a message at the end of the video exclaiming, “Real problems get pushed aside.”  

In an interview with NPR, Bambu remarked, “My music is here to push people to organize, period."