KULINTRAP: WHEN ETHNIC MUSIC MEETS TRAP
At first glance, Kulintang and Trap seem like an odd pairing. But trust me, "KulinTrap" is like the "fries and ice cream" of hiphop. If you’re curious about what it sounds like, read on!
Kulintang is a modern title for an indigenous instrumental style of music made of a row of small, horizontally laid gongs that work melodically in conjunction with bigger, suspended gongs and drums. These gong ensembles are largely Southeast Asian in origin.
On the other hand, trap is a hip-hop subgenre that emerged in the early 2000s in America. Trap’s iconic trademarks are its high hats and deep melody. Combining it with Kulintang, we shall call it Kulintrap.
A La Una is Lex Junior and Romeo Candido’s latest musical endeavor, having previously been known as DATU. While DATU aimed to modernize traditional Filipino music, A La Una aims to transcend their cultural roots in order to create new musical landscapes, tempos, stories, and textures. According to A La Una, this is “more than a rebrand.” Lex Junior and Romeo Candido are starting a new creative project that will go beyond the Filipino community in order to make a new sound, find new fans, and tell a new story.
A LA UNA, BEN&BEN, AND SB19
The idea of fusing traditional tribal music with the current mainstream songs seems promising. But in reality, listening to ethnic-inspired songs is like eating vegetables: good for you. But most people would rather choose meaty and cheesy modern pop songs. And to be honest, Kulintang and other ethnic songs cater to a select audience, and obviously, they are relatively small in number.
However, in recent years, little by little, bands that incorporate ethnic and Philippine culture into their songs have been successful. I would say A La Una’s attempt to modernize and showcase Philippine culture at every beat is promising. It is not impossible to see their names along with top-charting Pinoy pop bands’ Ben&Ben and SB19 in the future.