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.