For a small island country located far from the centers of street dance culture, the Philippines plays an outsize role in the scene worldwide. Legit Status, a team founded in 2009 by coach Vimi Rivera, has continued that reputation. This August they captured the bronze in the top category of Hip Hop International, one of the world’s biggest street dance competitions. Every year, around 50 countries descend on the West coast of America to battle it out in a dozen different categories, and Filipino teams nearly always rank among the top in the mega crew competition, beating out teams from the US, Japan, and other bastions of street dance. “This year had the most intense level of competition,” Rivera says. “It’s crazy”
The term “street dance,” when used in the Philippines, is a little complicated since most of it happens on stage or in the studio. But director Mark Valino aims to correct that, bringing these styles back their rightful place. He shoots song-length videos of dancers on sidewalks, stairwells, and literally in the middle of the street. The series mainly focuses on Southeast Asian dancers but also includes dancers from his hometown of Toronto. Ultimately though, it was the Philippines that inspired the whole thing.
It’s not just a silver lining for MANILA GREY, their whole sky is silver. Even cloudy days gleam with a chrome sheen for these dudes. The Vancouver duo’s new cut “Silver Skies” shines with the glow of an ’80s night drive dipped in modern Canadian icy vibes. With a glossy beat by in-house producer azel north, Soliven and Neeko take lyrics about their jewelry and shorties and imbue them with depth and emotion. “We all just locked into a studio and made the record happen,” azel tells us. “We started the record with the drums, and synth chords I laid down.” It’s the lead single for their upcoming sophomore project No Saints On Knight Street.
The other day we were listening to a Filipino rapper flexing about his Lambo and my friend laughed, joking that there’s probably only one Lamborghini in the Philippines and there’s nowhere to drive it. So when “Jeepney” popped up in the feed the next day, it was a reminder that rappers could highlight more accessible local lifestyles. Cebuano rapper Suez and Japanese rapper Farmhouse of Sushiboys recently dropped the colorful visuals for the track, featuring a bright yellow jeep, a fully stocked ukay ukay store, and a few local island clothing brands.
There’s a lot of appeal in spontaneity, and that’s part of what makes this dance video so appealing. Koolworkz shot it recently on a rainy day in Las Pinas with Ghetto Style Killaz dance crew. It’s a mix of off the dome, individual freestyle moves and choreographed group dance. The opportunity to shoot the video presented itself when most of the team was together judging a competition along with Kurt Reyes, otherwise known as Koolworkz, who was filming the event. After about an hour figuring out some quick choreography and rehearsing a bit, they went looking for a nearby location, but as luck would have it, the sky opened up and the rain presented a new hurdle. So they settled on a skyway overpass and rearranged their choreo to fit.