GLOC-9 and Raymund Marasigan

FILIPINO rap icon Gloc-9 explores distinctly Filipino stories through hard-hitting verses in his latest album, Sari-Sari Story.

The renowned rapper, whose real name is Aristotle Pollisco, has been making music for over 25 years. For the new album, he has collaborated with original Pilipino music (OPM) artist Raymund Marasigan who produced all 10 songs, each diving into a vivid story rife with twists and turns.

Tinda ni Linda,” the album’s focus track, is one such narrative song. It is written from the perspective of a man admiring Linda, who runs an eatery, and later uncovers dark secrets about her true motives linked to the dishes she serves. The track featured on Spotify’s New Music Friday Philippines and Apple Music’s new OPM releases.

The album’s release strategy allowed fans to savor each song, with three dropping during the first week of June and another three following in the subsequent week. The album was fully released on June 21.

Lyric videos that come with each track are now posted on Universal Records Philippines’ YouTube channel.

At a press launch in Quezon City on June 20, Mr. Polistico said that the stories in each track were explorations he had wanted to do for a long time.

“I identified the title after finishing two songs, “Utang Clan” and “Gatas at Asukal.” Napag-tanto kong mas madali magsulat sa ilalim ng (I realized I found it easier to write under the) umbrella that is Sari-Sari Story,” he said.

The title is a play on sari-sari store, literally translating to variety store, which refers to a small neighborhood store selling all sorts of goods. In this case, Gloc-9 is peddling unique Filipino stories.

Mr. Marasigan, known for his work with rock bands Sandwich and Eraserheads, this time stepped into the studio as producer. He told the press that he never expected to work on the full album, which took six weeks to make.

Akala ko noong una isang kanta lang gagawin namin (I thought at first that we would only do one song together). Suddenly every week he was sending me around two songs,” he said of the process.

“Gloc-9 a brilliant lyricist. Hindi ko namalayan na naka-anim na linggo kaming gumagawa (I didn’t even notice as we worked that six weeks had already passed).”

For the two musicians, the stand-out tracks of the album are the playful and surprisingly dark “Tinda ni Linda,” “Sagip,” which is a track dedicated to the suicidal, and the final song, “Idol,” about obsession that ends with a bang.

He said his gift is “to rap and to interpret people’s lives.”

“To begin with, tsismoso talaga ako (I’m really a gossip),” Mr. Polistico said of the colorful stories behind each track. “I just inject artistry into the gossip. The lyrics are based on things I hear, things I see, and things I experience.”

While “Sagip” was an opportunity to take on the topic of mental health that most people would rather avoid, “Idol” was a chance to work with younger peers. It features rappers G Clown, Ramdiss, and Hero, whose verses take on the perspective of obsessed fans of a famous rapper (Gloc-9 himself).

Sinabi ko sa kanila na maganda kung iyong characters nila ay sila rin. Na-pressure tuloy sila magsulat dahil sa conscious na direksiyon ko (I told them it would be great if they write characters based off of themselves. I pressured them to write under this conscious direction),” said Mr. Polistico.

What came out was a dynamic, masterfully told story that builds anticipation and culminates with the young rappers’ extremely fast and revelatory verses.

On how the Gloc-9 pen continues to churn out good songs, he explained that it helps being older and more stable in his career.

“Now, the goal is to write songs that we love. Mahirap maglako ng bibingka na ‘di mo rin kakainin (It’s hard to sell rice cakes that you yourself won’t eat).”

Sari-Sari Story is now available on various digital music platforms. — Brontë H. Lacsamana