Making a difference through sound
Curtismith brings back rap to the local music scene
“Did you go to Paradise [International Music Festival]?” Scout magazine’s graphic artist Grace de Luna asks Mito Fabie, popularly known as Curtismith, as we walk through the side streets of Meralco Avenue. He tells us that he was locked in his room that night, writing a track for his upcoming album “Soully, Yours.” While festival headliner Kanye West was spitting out rhymes onstage in Manila, Fabie was at home weaving words to create a new song aptly called West, his homage to the rapper. “Maybe I’m going to meet him someday,” he says. It’s not an impossible dream. After all, he already made waves when he released his first mixtape in 2015—even garnering the attention of entrepreneur Richard Branson.
“I’ve got all these dreams,” he says in his song For the Love. His optimism is apparent in his music, but it’s more evident in person. At one point, he talks about how correct posture can help alleviate depression. Then, he discusses his aspirations for the music industry. “Now, my mentality is––it’s like a Chance the Rapper type of thing––I’m trying to penetrate the mainstream scene, but not give in to just making hits or just making a catchy jingle.
“Rap isn’t a chant. When I rap, it’s a story of visions or aspirations.” He finds mainstream songs lacking in substance and authenticity, further describing them as “the same thing in a different toilet.” Along with other independent artists, Fabie gives listeners different options. “I’m trying to make it catchy, but I’m trying to make it genuine, I’m trying to make the lyrics pure.”
For Fabie, the experiences of rappers told through their songs helped him get through tougher times. “When I was younger, the rappers were like my older brothers.” Fabie lists Jay Z, J. Cole, and Frank Ocean as some of his influences. He realizes that the same privilege has been bestowed upon him. “I’m just trying to be the shaper of the audience that I have now.”
Night draws near, but Fabie’s day isn’t coming to a close yet. He still has a video shoot for his next project and he’s probably going to write as well. “I think at night is when most of my anxieties kick in. So, it’s kind of therapeutic for me to write instead of wasting my time worrying.”
We are on the deck of a high-rise condominium overlooking the whole of Ortigas. Across is a construction site of a new condominium. Buildings here rise higher every time. He’s been on the edge of the deck for the shoot. Is he afraid of heights? “No,” he answers. “I’m afraid of falling.” Some might say that he is writing a modern myth patterned after Icarus for dreaming too far, but he assures me, “I am somebody who seeks balance between liberty and structure.”
Mito Fabie considers Curtismith as the magnifying glass of certain life stages. His mixtape “Ideal” is about his dreams and aspirations while his next project, “Soully, Yours,” is about a relationship and how it affected his life.