Instant gratification is an option for people who don’t appreciate the ride. When the precedence is placed on life’s end destination, rather than the faults seen along a tattered journey, getting there is all that really matters. The road at which you stumbled will plummet beneath the promising divide. Sometimes you have to come from nowhere to see the importance in getting somewhere. For ex gang member turned Rap Activist Bambu, his confidence in the theory that believing is seeing, has led his art for being a visionary towards a visibly renewed and positive life.
A “Brown Child,” coming from the tough streets of Watts, California but a native of the Philippines, like a lot of youth with a front row seat to the street life, at one point Bambu found himself kneeling towards the negativity in his surrounding circumstances. He made some bad decisions and ended up in prison, but it was while he was on that ground looking up at the horizon that he began to see a world with a limitless ceiling. “The judge said it’d be a good idea if I joined the Marine Corp, and it was the Marine Corp that really kind of solidified my political point of view. You can get a lot questions answered while you’re there doing some of the dirt that we did,” He remembers.
Once a prisoner of his former conditions, he could see that the impressionable were headed towards the gaps between his footsteps, and inevitably prepared to walk the same mile. Bambu took the lessons he was granted through his journey, the cultural understanding he received from learning of his legacy and transitioned it into words to share with his community. It was while serving time involuntarily and then offering time to our nation, that he developed a need to resonate change and then accidentally stumbled into the use of Hip Hop. “It was kind of an accident, I didn’t really plan on dropping an album it just started with a bunch of songs I had been recording. We stuck ’em all together and folks really dug it because I was talking about something different,” he states. “I kind of pride myself in thinking I make music for real people, not the fantasy people we see on TV. I’ve never spilled champagne on a woman, and I’ve never been to a club where somebody was just randomly throwing money in the sky. I’ve never seen it, I’ve never been through it, I’ve never done it, and so I can’t rap about it.”
Rather than just make music for a desire of fame, Bambu uses his words to create an impact for social change. He puts a new spin on complaint rap, by not only sharing his message but also encouraging it towards action. He speaks on the struggles of everyday life, and hopes to warrant a need for people to wake up and get involved in generating their own resolution.
“I have my ideas and principles, and of course I’m going to inject that into my music, but I don’t want to force it on you. I’m not trying to shove it down your throat as truth; I’m just trying to tell you what my truth is. I really want kids to ask questions. I don’t even want them to take what I say as doctrine, I want them to question things and go find out for themselves. I think kids should have that attitude because it’s a start to a revolution.”
Although he’s graced the mic of the world famous Wake Up Show with Sway and King Tech, and taken his music on the road and had an opportunity to share the stage with artists like Jim Jones and Common, the biggest accomplishment for him has been the end result of the influence of his message. “Seeing kids organizing, and being able to organize with them, and going on rallies, kids seeing me and really understanding my lyrics and really taking what I’m saying and building something positive from it has really has been the biggest compliment and biggest success for me,” Bambu reveals.
Through his music and his actions, Bambu is constantly recognized for his undeniable efforts towards building community and national change. He conducts writing workshops for teens in Los Angeles, is a member of the Filipino organization KMB that works to unite youth towards a systematic change and is continually breathing life into his 3rd Album entitled Exact Change. Although his words go out to the masses, he gets a different kind of pleasure when his Filipino and Black Community receive it back home. He’s a proud minority and will never apologize for making music that uplifts his heritage rather than conforming to a broader standard. Don’t get him wrong, he’s not a racist, he’s a realist.
“I don’t make music for [white] privilege, I make music for people who don’t have that privilege,” says Bambu.
He’s a voice for our people, with a message for the entire world. Bambu… get acquainted.
For more information on Bambu please visit myspace.com/bambumusic.