Is his music as good as his battles? Check out this review of GL’s SA/LIRIKO EP!
GL, one of the most prolific writers in FlipTop’s Visayas Division, released his second solo EP on the first of July 2022. The project is entitled “SA/LIRIKO”, and it consists of five tracks, all of which are produced, mixed, and mastered by A.D. Beats. He’s been killing it in his battles, so expectations are high in this release, especially when it comes to lyricism.
Is “SA/LIRIKO” worth checking out? Let us answer that question as we review each song. Make sure you also watch GL’s latest match if you haven’t yet. His clash with LilStrocks has now exceeded 375,000 YouTube views!
“SA/LIRIKO” starts off with a feel-good track called “pan/lunas”. GL talks about how writing rhymes changed him for the better and gave him a purpose in life. It may be an overused topic, but the emcee from Leyte managed to make it unique by incorporating complex multis and remarkable imagery such as…
“Nagsimula nung nagdilim ang daigdig
Aking tula ang nagsilbing mga pintig
Sa hawlang kinalawang na nayupi sa dibdib
Sa bawat linya, lumuwag ang lubid sa leeg”
“Magtanim nang magtanim, maghapon na nakaupo
Papel lamang at panulat ang nasa dayalogo
At ako, hanggang makabuo ng katalogo
Nangangarap na anihin lahat ng mga buto
At kahit na iilan pa lamang ang nakikisalo
Bawat tengang nakinig pumapawi sa aking pagod”
Production-wise, A.D. Beats’ “What You Won’t Do For Love” sample and boom bap drum patterns added more soul to this inspirational joint. It’s the perfect opener, and brilliantly sets the mood for the second banger.
“ika/rus” is where the rapper showcases his impressive flow. From the very first line, you will certainly be captivated by GL’s rapid-fire rapping style. Of course, his lyricism also remains strong. He likened himself to the mythological being Icarus, but instead of falling to his death, he kept flying and was able to overcome the heat of the sun. It’s a metaphor for GL’s dedication to hip-hop. The last four lines said it best:
"At ako’y magpapatuloy, titipunin ang pruweba
Bagong buhay, hahanapin, baybayin mga kometa
Mga linya kong inukit sa dingding ng aking kweba
Ngayon ay isasabuhay sa isang bagong planeta"
The minimalist, 90s-inspired beat may not be as energetic as “pan/lunas”, but it was successful in capturing the overall mood of the song. Much props to A.D. Beats for not sticking to a certain type of sound.
In a genre filled with rumormongers and clout chasers, GL prefers to stay in the shadows and do his thing. That’s the concept of the third track of the EP “taga/masid”. GL successfully illustrated in the chorus and verses his intention in the scene, and while the rhymes are deep, he still made each one is understandable with lines like:
"Kaya’t di bale na kung hindi man kilala
Kung di kita, kalkulado ang lahat at bihasa
Kung hindi umiimik, kalmado paghinga
Sukat ang salita kung sinusulat lapida
At di magbibida, sa bawat sirkulo
Ako’y kuntento na maging tahimik
Di ang sentro ng bilog ang bumubuo nito
Kundi ang guhit na nakapaligid"
A.D. Beats returned to his soul and jazz influences in his instrumental. The beat surprisingly blended well with GL’s complex writtens. So far, the chemistry between and producer has been really solid!
Things get much darker in the last two tracks of the EP, content-wise. In “kapa/tawaran”, GL tells the story of a heinous crime that took place in the narrow streets as a result of greed. The rapper continues to showcase not only his creative rhyming, but also his vivid imagery. We won’t post quotables from “kapa/tawaran” because this is something you need to digest as a whole in order to fully appreciate it. The beat once again has a minimalist feel, which is perfect for the gritty theme of the song.
In “mas/karada”, GL raps about the painful truth in politics: the rich are still favored over the poor. It has been a problem not only in the Philippines but pretty much all over the world. Here are some of the lines that stood out in the song…
“Magkasalo sa palasyo, magkaramay
Batuhin mo ng bato
At gagamitin sa pabahay
Sa lupang sinilangan
Siksikan na ang tupa
Na may bayad pa ang upa”
“At di raw dapat na sinasala
Sapagkat buhay ka pa, ikaw ay pinagpala
Ang sabihing matatapos to
Bawal ang hawak-kamay
Kayat merong maiiwan”
And from the chorus…
“Habang tayo’y di makahinga
Sila’y nagtanggal ng maskara
Ang distansyang nanatili
Ay sa gitna ng mahirap at mayaman”
GL then claims that this will not stop until we all learn to speak up. “mas/karada is truly a powerful track and a great way to end the project. It doesn’t have a positive vibe like the first song, but it serves as a wake-up call to everyone. A.D. Beats kept it boom bap with his sound. The loud drums and the creepy humming are a great pairing, making the song a melancholic masterpiece.
If you’re a fan of his battles, then you will surely appreciate his music as well. GL’s lyrical creativity is visible throughout this EP, and he also proved he can rhyme on a beat. Much props to A.D. Beats as well for his diverse boom bap production. Whether it’s grimy or feel-good, you can expect nothing but quality from him. While some emcee-producer collaborations focus on outshining each other, they chose to work together and create art.
The only issue we have with the EP is how it was mixed. There are tracks here where the beats are much louder than the verses that we had to rewind a few times just to understand the lines. Let’s hope it won’t happen again in the next release. Other than that, “SA/LIRIKO” is a must-listen for anyone who wants to hear intelligent rhymes on solid, golden-age-influenced instrumentals. Listen to the entire EP on GL's YouTube channel.