Shanti Dope's camp releases statement in response
MANILA - (UPDATED) It promotes the use of marijuana, argued the head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), defending their decision to caution against Shanti Dope's newest song "Amatz."
But in an interview back in March, just after the song's release, the young rapper explained that his lyrics were actually meant to warn people over using illegal drugs and promote a more "natural high" -- the same high he feels, he says, when making music.
"Napapansin ko kasi sa generation ngayon na maraming kabataan [at] tao ang naghahanap ng sagot sa iba't-ibang klase ng 'amatz,'" he shared when asked his inspiration behind the track.
He said that this included those seeking comfort through alcohol and other vices, adding: "Pino-promote ko iyong natural lang, parang iyong 'amatz' ng musika sa akin."
"Amatz" features a disarmingly catchy flow wherein Shanti Dope describes the environment he grew up in -- one where death is an all too familiar reality. He sings: "Anong bago jan? / Kamatayan o parak na umaga o gabi, may kahabulan / Dami ng nasa ataol pa hangang katapusan/ Laki ng kita sa kahuyan."
Some of the lyrics where Shanti Dope warns against drug use can be found when he sketches out a memory he had: "Sabi nila sa'kin nung bata, ay ano ka kaya pag tanda mo? / Ito hinangad ko lipadin ay mataas pa sa kaya ipadama sa'yo ng gramo / 'Di bale nang musika ikamatay kaysa pera't atraso, bala ng amo."
The song also has the line: "Payong kapatid 'pag tumikim / 'Di na madali tumakbo sa halik nya."
PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino claimed that the lyrics of the song promotes the use of marijuana which runs contrary to the Duterte administration’s crusade against illegal drugs.
Aquino highlighted the following lyrics: "Lakas ng amats ko, sobrang natural, walang halong kemikal."
In a statement released in response, Shanti Dope's management asked Aquino to "listen to the whole song, and not just take a few lines out of context."
They added: "To take apart a song and judge it based on certain lyrics that offend us is unfair to the songwriter; to presume that our reading of a song is the only valid one is offensive to an audience that might be more mature than we think."
The rapper's camp also said the proposed ban sets a "dangerous precedent for creative and artistic freedom in the country, when a drug enforcement agency can unilaterally decide on what a song is about, and call for its complete ban because it is presumed to go against government’s war on illegal drugs."
"This is a brazen use of power, and an affront to our right to think, write, create, and talk freely about the state of the nation."
The full statement can be read below: