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The Council: KIYO

We previously called kiyo the “King of Authenticity.”

In many ways, the 23-year-old rapper represents the type of personality that social media gravitates towards; the everyman who shares slices of life with their audience, warts and all. His material reflects the average Filipino’s innermost thoughts, from our innate romantic tendencies in “Eba” and “Ikaw Lang,” to the anxieties of breadwinners in “Pagod.”

The idea of “authenticity” isn’t novel. If anything, the abundance of vlogs, TikTok confessions, and tell-all interviews prove that being “real” is the present and future of online content. With millions of monthly listeners and followers, kiyo is no exception to the formula’s success.

But while being “real” is the goal, the approach has to be “genuine.” Audiences are smart. They can tell when something is pretentious and heavily scripted. Kiyo’s the adverse; he struggles to describe what makes his content tick, only that he’s putting his true self out there.

Feel ko nasa experimental stage parin po ako kasi ayoko ma-pressure. I’m taking my time to get to know myself and yung music na gusto ko ilabas. I’m just expressing myself in the way na kaya ko.”

(“I feel like I’m still in the expriment stage because I don’t want to feel pressured. I’m taking my time to get to know myself and the music I want to release. I’m just expressing my ways in the ways that I can.”)

Kiyo represents the evolution of modern Filipino hip-hop: an honest reflection of our joys, struggles, and triumphs. Complex Philippines caught up with kiyo on his free-flowing approach and his magnetic everyman persona.

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"Lagi ko ini-include talaga yung personal experience and wisdom shit."

What is your process for turning everyday experiences into uniquely irresistible songs?

Mukha lang siyang gift pero curse siya (laughs). Marami kasi akong angulo na tinitignan bago magsulat ng kanta. Nagiging perfectionist ako minsan, tumatagal yung project. So may mga pros and cons.

(My process is both a gift and a curse (laughs). I consider many angles before writing a song. I became a perfectionist and it delays the project. So there are pros and cons.)

Does an artist need a tragic and colorful background to create good songs?

Di naman, basta matutunan mo lang ang empathy. Di mo kailangan maranansan [lahat ng kwento]. Pwedeng inspired ka by other art forms like music and cinema.

(Not really, as long as you know how to empathize. You don’t need to experience everything. You can be inspired by other art forms like music and cinema.)

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Content creators say you must put yourself out there to make it big. Is that enough or are there other factors involved?

Dapat mo alamin kung saan ka pupunta. Iisipin mo kung anong goal mo sa market mo. Di lang basta shoot ng shoot. Siyempre, isabay na din ang confidence and trust sa sarili.

Dapat nasa labas ka din. Pumunta sa  events. Be a part of the community. Make yourself known.

(You should know where you’re headed. Think about your market. Not just creating randomly. Of course, it also involves trust and confidence in yourself.

You need to go out. Go to events. Be a part of the community. Make yourself known.)

As someone who is big on sharing stories, how do you toe the line between your art and your personal life? Is there a danger of oversharing?

Ayoko masyadong mag-formulate pagdating sa paggawa ng songs. “Okay, may specific akong topic dito.” “Kakantahin ko pinaka-generic ng words and dito ko sila ilalagay.

(I don’t want to formulate too much when writing my songs. “Okay, I have this specific topic.” “I will sing the most generic lyrics and I’ll place them here.”)

Meron formula to make a hit, pero not me. Lagi ko ini-include talaga yung personal experience and wisdom shit.

Siyempre meron pressure na maraming nakatingin sayo, pero goods lang. Madalas akong “just do it.”

(There is a formula to make a hit, but that’s just not me. I always include my personal experience and wisdom shit. Of course, there’s pressure when you’re famous, but it’s all good. Often I “just do it.”)

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What’s a local hip-hop trend you see happening in the 5 years?

Nakikita ko na trend is more collaborations with global or kahit with Southeast Asian artists. Ang ganda ng pwesto ng Pilipinas sa social media, so gamitin natin yun to get out of our comfort zones.

(I can see a trend of collaborating more with global or Southeast Asian artists. The Philippines is in a good position social media-wise, so let’s take advantage of it to get out of our comfort zones.)

Credits

COMPLEX participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means COMPLEX gets paid commissions on purchases made through our links to retailer sites. Our editorial content is not influenced by any commissions we receive.

© Complex Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Photography Borgy Angeles
Art and Art Direction Alexandra Lara and James Francisco
Interview and Story Gelo Lasin
Styling Assist Jana Silao assisted by Val Silao
Makeup Nadynne Esguerra
Hair Patrick John
Production Complex Philippines
Location Bulb Studios

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COMPLEX participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means COMPLEX gets paid commissions on purchases made through our links to retailer sites. Our editorial content is not influenced by any commissions we receive.

© Complex Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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