MANILA -- May is Mental Health Awareness month and the new song, “Kamusta,” by local hip-hop artists Shanti Dope and Flow G comes at a perfect time.
The music video may be courting controversy as it tackles depression, anxiety, pre-marital sex and social media shaming.
The video has Shanti Dope and Flow G performing on a high-rise’s helipad. At some point, Flow G is singing his lines on the edge of the building. The camera focus makes it appear there’s no ground below him.
“It looks dangerous but in reality, there’s a hidden part of the roof top below me. If I fall, pilay lang abutin ko (I might get a sprain),” Flow G said in jest during a recent media conference and preview for the music video.
“Pero ayaw ko pa rin non (I don’t want it to happen to me.) Nanginginig ang mga tuhod namin ni Shanti noong ginagawa namin ang video.”
“Sabi ko sa sarili ko, ‘Direk’ bakit naman ganito? Pero after seeing the music video, I thought it’s all worth it, lahat ng pagod,” added Flow G, whose real name is Archie Basilio dela Cruz.
The video starts with a typical boy-meets-girl story. Girl invites boyfriend to her place. She introduces him to her mother. It is shown her father has passed on as she embraces his portrait photo.
Left on their own at her place, the young couple had intimate moments in her room. Unknowingly to the girl, naughty boyfriend videotapes their sex act. When the girl learns about it, the video has gone viral on the internet.
She gets depressed, anxious, and isolates herself from society. Later, it is shown she has learned to smile again, as if she has accepted what happened. She visits the grave of her father. The viewer would think she has recovered.
Now, the last scene has her at a Light Rail Transit platform. Trains arrives, she takes a few steps toward the edge of the platform and the camera angle moves to a fast cut of falling into the metal railways. Whether she survives the fall or not, it leaves the audience thinking.
The video ends and flashed on the screen is a dedication to those who passed on and those living who are still struggling with mental health problems.
“This is dedicated for the loved ones we lost and those who continue to battle for their mental health. There's someone who is always willing to listen.”
Also shown are contact numbers of the National Center for Mental Health.
The foreshadowing of suicide in the middle of the video is shown by flashing a photo of the late Anthony Bourdain and for the eagle-eyed viewer, there’s the wall poster of Kurt Cobain in the girl’s room.
Directed by Jeremy Lin, “Kamusta” music video was uploaded by Universal Records past dinner time of Friday, May 28, and as of this posting, has reached 1.2 million views.
“Kamusta,” without the music video, is about helping someone, being there for a friend or relative anyone close who tries to hide his or her sadness or helplessness.
The chorus goes: “Meron bang nakakubli sa likod ng ‘yong ngiti/ at kutitap ng yong mga mata? Mabigat ba sa dibdib ‘pag laging pinipigalang sabihin and iyong nadarama?/ ‘Di mo gustong malaman ng mundo ang kahinaan mo/ Kung wala kang malapitan/ Pu-pwede mo akong sabihan.”
During the media conference, they revealed while making the song, they didn’t actually meet up in person. It was only later when the music video was being made when they hung out to bond with each other.
“Ginawa namin hindi magkasama, nagpapasahan lang, pero nagme-meet kami para mag bonding. Kasi mahirap naman kung dadating ang point mag-shoot kami ng video, di naman kami cool sa isa’t isa,” said Flow G.
Shanti, whose real name is Sean Patrick Ramos, said he liked the concept and visuals at once when he saw the music video for the first time. It was exactly what was on his mind because he’s the type who can envision a music video while still composing lyrics for a song.
“Para sa mga may pinagdadaanan. May pagsasabihan. ‘Yung depression, gusto ko rin iparamdam na tao pa rin ako. Nakakaramdam ako ng ganito,” he said.
He revealed the first verse was written by Flow G. He took over the second verse.
“I like the first verse because Uncle G is like giving an advice,” Shanti said, referring to Flow G as Uncle G.
The 25-year-old Flow G is older than Shanti by four years. Shanti explained they’re both from Cavite and the first time they met in person was a concert abroad. At the time, Flow G was still member of the hip hop group, Ex Battalion.
“That’s why I wrote the second verse as if asking questions,” Shanti said in Filipino.
Flow G said, “When we were doing the ‘collab,’ upon reading the second verse that Shanti wrote, I told him immediately, let us write the third verse. Sobrang ganda. The song is basically about having a friend to talk to, a friend who can drop everything and be there if you need help. It’s about not being afraid or shy to confide, that you’re going through something rough.”
Shanti said he loved the last part of the song that Flow G wrote because it’s very melodic.
In return, Flow G said he admired the lines Shanti wrote about not turning into vices like drinking alcohol and drug abuse to escape problems.
“Kumapit sa liwanang, huwag sa bisyo, kung ano man pinagdadaanan,” he said.
Both hip-hop artists said they are thankful for the project, for surviving the nearly three-year long pandemic and for where they are now.
“Everything happened so fast. I was only 16 years old when I signed up for a record deal with Universal Records. Now I am 21 years old. Experiencing the pandemic, I learned to love my job more,” Shanti said in Filipino.
Flow G said: “Ang daming nangyari, na-realize ko lahat ng ‘to, mabilis lang ‘to, mabilis ang panahon. Kaya payo ko, susulitin, baka bukas, wala na ako. Ang gusto ko lang nasulit ko ‘to.”
(The National Center for Mental Health contact numbers are; Luzon-wide Toll Free Number 1553; Globe/TM 0966-3514518, 0917-8898727; SMART/SUN/TNT 0908-6392672)