From homeless to hip hop, a rapper’s advice for song writers

Taiwan has for centuries welcomed immigration and been a haven embracing immigrants from all walks of life, whether it be Chinese over hundreds of years or the more recent immigration of workers who have come to Taiwan for work and perhaps found true love while here.

According to Ministry of Labor Workforce Development Agency statistics there were 679,464 foreign workers in productive industries and social welfare in Taiwan at the end of March.

These "new residents" have become an undeniable part of Taiwanese identity, bringing with them their distinctive traditions, culture, arts and stories as they become colleagues, friends and even family with the local population.

One of these "new residents" is Deeplowmatik, 30, an aspiring rapper from the City of Valenzuela in the Philippines, who moved to New Taipei three-and-a-half years ago after finding work through an agency in the Philippines.

He brought with him his rhymes, his story and advice for song writers.

Speaking with Focus Taiwan, Deeplowmatik, says song writers should be careful when writing songs because many children listen to the lyrics and act out what is said.

"You should be careful because so many children and listeners will (are willing to) try (and) do things that are said in your music," he warned.

"All of my songs, I have been keeping it real, when I rap about it its real," Deeplowmatik said, explaining that all of things he writes about are based on his own experiences.

Deeplowmatik, the eldest of five siblings, said he ran away from home at the age of 12, leaving behind three sisters and a brother.

"I ran away because my father and I argued most of the time as we had financial problems," he said, adding "I wanted to help them, but he (my father) doesn't want me to help the way I wanted to."

"After I ran away, I lived on the streets hustling and grinding," he said, explaining that he also took turns sleeping at different friend's homes but never for too long in case they asked him to leave for overstaying his welcome.

"Most of my friends are older than me" and "I was switching it, every day I moved in with another friend, because if I stay (too) long maybe one of them will say 'go out, go out'," he said.

"I have moved from place to place, I have lived in Makati, Laguna, Tagaytay, Taguig, Cavite and Caloocan," he said, adding "from city to city, from place to place."

When he was not staying with friends, he explained "I was sleeping in jeepneys and tricycles," adding that he has experienced having nothing to eat and at times "just a couple of bread (loafs) for the whole day."

One time after running away from home he was involved in a motorcycle accident that left him hospitalized.

"I woke up (in hospital) and saw my father standing beside me with my brother and I was shocked," he said.

After leaving the hospital his family carried him home, but it was not long, about a month or two, before he ran away again.

"I am a man of my word, when I do something I keep doing it and I don't look back," Deeplowmatik affirmed.

Later at around the age of 16, Deeplowmatik learned how to rent his own apartment but what he described as "living independently" also led him into many street fights and being arrested.

Apart from fights and issues with law enforcement, in order to survive the streets, Deeplomatik also became a "gold digger." When asked to elaborate, he explained: "You know... old women, I've been there before."

"When they are not happy anymore about their husbands, we meet each other and after we make out (become physically intimate) they give me money and after that they call me again," he said.

"Actually they just needed a companion and they just need comfort because they lack comfort from their husbands, he said, adding "some of them were widows."

"Anything to make money, actually I've sold medicine, I've sold used books, anything, you give it to me and I sell it," he said.

Explaining what it means to be a hustler and how it differs from dealing drugs, he said "for me, being a hustler is not about selling drugs, because nowadays when people hear the word hustler they think about selling drugs, but there is a big difference between a drug dealer and a hustler."

"Drug sellers are just selling drugs, but if you are a hustler you are selling anything (apart from drugs)," he explained.

Deeplowmatik said he was never a drug dealer and did not sell drugs.

Since running away from home a second time, the rapper hasn't been back, but he did see his family before coming to Taiwan to work. When asked why he came to Taiwan, the rapper replies that he wanted to do something different with his life.

"I was with my friend that time and we go (went) near Malate to a work agency where I think (thought to myself if) I should go there (Taiwan) to find something new," he said.

"I just go with the flow, at that time," he added.

"After (a few) weeks, less than a month, I was gone, they sent me here," Deeplowmatik noted, adding "all I had (at the time) was NT$600 (US$20.27)."

Upon arriving in Taiwan, Deeplomatic was concerned about money as he worried he didn't have enough to buy food, but luckily because he plays basketball he made friends who helped him out.

After settling in, Deeplowmatik created his own music label "Got Skillz Records." Speaking about his love for music, he said "music is my life."

"For me when you write about songs, it should be 'real talk' and it should be true, because you are encouraging your listeners," he said, noting that American hip hop group Bone Thugs-n-Harmony are his idols and "every time I heard their music I wanted to be like them."

When asked about what the future holds for him, Deeplowmatik says he is looking to write more songs in English, including a mixtape all in English.

When asked how he feels about his life in Taiwan, he replied, "I'm doing good things, every day I am working, waking up in the morning going to work, I'm working nine to five, (laughs)." "Whenever I'm hearing songs by rappers dissing (making fun) of people who are trying to work nine to five, but for me its like rehabilitation," he said.

Deeplowmatik revealed that he works as a book binder in New Taipei City.

"Because for me, all my life I have been doing stuff I shouldn't have been supposed to do, but right now I want to make my family proud of me."

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel