Calix – Ikugan (Mini-album Review)

By: Dante Romero

Calix first made his presence felt in 2016 with his independently-released solo album “Breakout Satirist”. His rage-filled delivery and relentless attacks on dirty politicians and the privileged elite quickly caught the attention of not only Hiphop heads, but enthusiasts from other genres as well. In mid 2017, he continued to unleash his wrath in his second project “The Lesser Of Your Greater Friends”. Just like his debut record, TLOYGF received critical acclaim and was instrumental in reintroducing the darker and grittier side of Pinoy Rap.

It’s now 2018, and the angry lyricist is still bent on raising hell in the scene. To prove his dedication, he dropped a mini-album on the 31st of May titled “Ikugay”. Is it as impactful as his last two LP’s? Find out in this first-listen track-by-track review.

1. Amanamin

Calix didn’t hold back at all in sharing his atheistic point of view in “Amanamin”. For two minutes and 48 seconds, he unapologetically expresses his doubts on the existence of a divine being with an equally aggressive beat from Serena DC. The straight-to-the-point approach of the lyrics is sure to shock the easily-offended religious types. However, if you have an open mind and appreciate cutthroat lyricism and production, then you will surely get hooked to this track.

2. Limbo feat. JamySykes

In “Limbo”, Calix joins forces with fellow emcee JamySykes to criticize those in power. The two rappers were able to send their messages clearly, thanks to their powerful delivery. Serena DC made the track much more effective with her Rock-influenced production. It’s a tune that is guaranteed to draw mosh pits when performed live.

3. Manilab

“Manilab” sees Calix ferociously rapping about the hopeless state of the Philippines. After all the poverty, violence, and corruption in the country, he offers only one solution: burn it down. You may not agree with the emcee’s opinion, but the Trap-style instrumental will still get you hyped up. Track number 3 is proof that Trap music can also have substance.

4. Kildemol feat. BLKD

Joining Calix in the fourth track is Uprising member BLKD. Together, they fire shots at those who are blinded by the shortcomings of the government. The duo had great chemistry in their first collaboration (Di Matitinag), and the same can be said here. Calix had a more aggressive approach while BLKD focused on a calmer delivery. Despite the difference, they both painted a vivid image with their verses. As for Serena DC’s boom bap beat, it will certainly make you bob your head.

5. Caligula

After four songs about religion and politics, Calix decides to get personal in “Caligula”. He talks about fake friends and warns them that he will retaliate soon. Instead of his trademark raw aggression, Calix spits his lines in a more melancholic tone. You can really feel the sadness in his voice, as if he’s talking to his former buddies face-to-face. The gloomy beat is unquestionably perfect for the lyrical content of the track.

6. Pasaway / Holic

“Pasaway / Holic” is about unrequited love, and Calix delivers it perfectly. There’s a fragment of hope in the first part of the song, which is evident in the beat’s joyful tone. It then becomes somber in the middle, indicating hopelessness. The track ends with Calix indulging himself in alcohol, but still fantasizing about the girl of his dreams. Without a doubt, it’s a well-written track that many will relate to.

7. Nanulat na Talunan

Calix continues to showcase his versatility in writing in “Nanulat na Talunan”. On a melancholic instrumental, he vividly describes his affections towards a girl he only met online. The song may have ended on a sad note, but Calix added a bit of humor into it. Thanks to the comedic approach, track number 7 is the perfect break from the generally dark vibe of the record.

8. Monday (San Na?)

The final track is arguably the most personal of them all. It’s where Calix goes into detail about his failed relationship. There’s a mix of anger and despair in his voice, making you feel his pain. The minimalist beat also gives the song a depressing vibe. At the 5:06 mark, “Monday (San Na?)” suddenly shifts to a “happier” mood. You will hear Calix and his friends sarcastically performing a love song about a certain Tita Berna. It’s a funny piece indeed, but it can also be a depiction of how the rapper tries to forget about his disastrous love story.

“Ikugan” will definitely give you an unforgettable listening experience. The first part has that Punk attitude while the second one features themes of loneliness. It’s a superbly-crafted concept album, something that local Hiphop needs more of today. While Calix’s rhymes may not be as intricate as others, he makes up for it with his heartfelt delivery and brilliant imagery. Production wise, Serena DC’s beats succeeded in providing the suitable atmosphere for each song. She undoubtedly has a bright future as a producer.

You can buy an online copy of “Ikugan” on Calix’s Bandcamp account (https://calixghettopriest.bandcamp.com/). It’s also available for streaming on Soudcloud (https://soundcloud.com/calixph/sets/ikugan-mini-album-2018). For gigs, upcoming releases, and other information, check out his official Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/CalixGhettoPriest/).