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cur­ti­smith

Ris­ing hip-hop artist Cur­ti­smith doesn’t want to be­come the next big thing Styling and in­ter­view by MARTIN DIEGOR Pho­tog­ra­phy by PAOLO CRODUA

“OH SHIT, MAN!” ex­claims hip-hop artist Mito Fa­bie. It’s prob­a­bly more than 30 de­grees in the stu­dio, with only an Iwata fan pro­vid­ing bare­lythere ven­ti­la­tion, and he’s wear­ing a thick hoodie for the last lay­out of a photo shoot. The cuss, how­ever, was not di­rected to­wards the room tem­per­a­ture, but to his phone. Mito, or Cur­ti­smith as most would know him, just got off a con­ver­sa­tion telling him that his sched­ule with the record­ing stu­dio was pushed back. Again. “This sucks big time,” he says, as he walked back to­wards the back­drop. He was sup­posed to record his up­com­ing EP, which he wanted to be re­leased by the end of Novem­ber.

It’s been a year since Cur­ti­smith de­cided to take “the mu­sic thing” se­ri­ously, go­ing by a name he chanced upon on a bill­board of a lo­cal star whose mu­si­cal ac­co­lades are in­versely pro­por­tional to her mu­si­cal ca­pa­bil­i­ties. It didn’t take long for him to at­tract at­ten­tion and get gigs. Last Septem­ber, Cur­ti­smith dropped a mix­tape called “Ideal.” He’s also been fea­tured on a Bench Blog orig­i­nal track from Log­i­club,

In a Minute, with mates BP Valen­zeula, CRWN, Kidthrones, John Pope, and St. Vin­cent and the re­nadines. And soon enough ngers crossed , he’ll have his EP. “But it’s okay, I’m still ac­tu­ally on time. Maybe I’ll move the release to my birth­day on De­cem­ber.”

His pos­i­tiv­ity is in­trigu­ing. In the Spo­tify age where the top 10 hip-hop tracks will prob­a­bly bust about sex, drugs, and money, Cur­ti­smith spits about dreams, work­ing hard, and stick­ing it to the man. “I don’t even know how long I’ll be do­ing this,” he says as he bit off his burger dur­ing our in­ter­view. “I didn’t even know peo­ple wanted to lis­ten to me. I just started it all with my com­puter in my bed­room. But now that I’m out here, might as well give it my all.” What’s the story be­hind your mix­tape, “Ideal”? Early 2014, I was pre­oc­cu­pied with not pur­su­ing mu­sic. I wanted to pursue en­trepreneur­ship. I wanted to pack up and go to Bu­la­can and help Gawad Kalinga. I dropped out from school, I was plan­ning to move there to get into the bam­boo busi­ness . I was just so tired of the tox­i­c­ity of Manila. Then a show came in last De­cem­ber with Fly Art. They were look­ing for a part­ner, and they were ask­ing for re­sumes. I thought, I do en­trepreneur­ship, I love rap mu­sic, so I ap­plied. They got back to me and they said, “We don’t need any more part­ners but we really like your mu­sic.” So when they launched in the Philip­pines, they asked me to per­form for them and I agreed. That’s the night I met Log­i­club. All the mem­bers were there and they asked me to join. I thought it was pretty cool.

Then the mu­sic started tak­ing more and more con­trol of me, and I started stray­ing away from go­ing to Bu­la­can. I was do­ing per­for­mances for eight months, and that’s when I started writ­ing ev­ery­thing else. Af­ter all my per­for­mances, I thought I should have a project nally , and I ended up record­ing all of what I had then.

Why was “Ideal” re­leased for free? In terms of busi­ness, I’m not us­ing my own songs. I’m rap­ping over beats by other artists like J. Dilla and 40. I couldn’t have made pro t from it. But at the same time, even if I could have, I don’t want to be­cause it means I’m do­ing it for the money. I wouldn’t be able to be as gen­uine with it as pos­si­ble. I want to show to peo­ple that it’s pos­si­ble to make money out of it, but it can’t be my main source of in­come. That’s why I want to get into en­trepreneur­ship. I love mu­sic be­cause of the art. Be­cause peo­ple con­sider me as an em­cee now, ev­ery­thing I say kind of has weight, so I have to make sure it is as hon­est as it can be, whether it’s through the emo­tions, the ideals, all of th­ese things. With “Ideal”, it was all my ideals—ev­ery­thing that I be­lieve in within the last two to three years, that I’ve been try­ing to im­prove my­self, to be the best that I can be and an in­stru­ment of God. There are dif­fer­ent as­pects in the way I ap­proach the mu­sic. I’m ram­bling; I’m still con­fused about it my­self. That’s es­sen­tially what I did. I don’t even re­mem­ber the ques­tion. ( Laughs “Ideal” is ba­si­cally about ide­al­ism and op­ti­mism. But there are parts in cer­tain songs where an­other per­sona would ques­tion that. For ex­am­ple in Prac­tice, there’s a line say­ing, “Why do you keep on do­ing this mumbo-jumbo mu­sic shit when you can be do­ing th­ese other cool things like, making money?” I re­al­ized, as with all the books I was read­ing, your heart has to be in it. In my song with Sim­i­lar Ob­jects, Let Love Die, it’s a con ict of how at rst I wanted money then my rel­a­tives tell me to fol­low my pas­sion, then I nd my pas­sion and they tell me I need to make money. So I think the rea­son why I’m try­ing to say this is be­cause I’m the ex­per­i­ment: I want to try and make money by fol­low­ing my pas­sion. And if it can be done, then what’s stop­ping the other guy from do­ing it, too? That’s the dream. But do you think ide­al­ism is a good thing or a bad thing? For a while, I felt very guilty for be­ing ide­al­is­tic be­cause all of my friends are like, “Get real, dude.” I still con­sider what I’m go­ing to do once this whole mu­sic thing is done, and what I’ll do af­ter I graduate col­lege. But I’m stub­born; the kid in me is telling me to just try. Just give it a try. There’s a book by Stephen Covey called the 8th Habit, which fol­lowed the 7 Habits of Highly

Ef­fec­tive Peo­ple, where Covey said that if you have vi­sion, if it’s not just a dream and you act to­wards it ev­ery­day, then it’s not nec­es­sar­ily about the money nor the ego, but for your own bet­ter­ment. And in 7 Habits, the last rule is to “Sharpen the saw,” which talks about how you shouldn’t be con­tent with how good you are al­ready, be­cause then you’ll think you’ve reached your ceil­ing. No one can be per­fect, but there’s no harm in striv­ing for it.

What was your child­hood like? Oh man, I was al­ways bad at school. I had a lot of is­sues: My par­ents got di­vorced when I was three, I was re­bel­lious, and I started do­ing drugs at 14. When I was 16, my dad, a cin­e­matog­ra­pher, passed away out of the blue. It just got me to re­think things. I knew I didn’t want to end up like him. He was an al­co­holic but also an artist. He was really good, but the vices took a toll on him.

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