Calix’s “Crash and Burn” EP is what happens when panic and frustration is funneled into the story and the sound. His five tracks, written during confinement, all recount an experience that characterized this period of Filipino society: being consumed by the terror of violence and uncertainty, while thirsting for an elusive good time.
For Calix, it all started in September 2020, amid cumbersome quarantine procedures that everyone treated differently. “All the pandemic anxiety got me bogged down,” says producer-rapper NME. Instead of finishing a full concept album as he had planned, he instead settled for a shorter version. “I couldn’t concentrate and I couldn’t decide on a plan for the story. But I like the songs that came out of it, as they are, so I wanted to release them as an EP.
“Crash and Burn” tells the story of a “depressed guy who goes on an adventure”, exploring Manila’s nightlife to escape his melancholy. The EP opens with dancing rhythms and pop sensibilities on the first two tracks, “Crash and Burn” with U-Pistol and “Juicy” with Japanese singer Futakuchi Mana (who contributes to the bridge). Both describe the weariness of someone longing for lost privacy: On the title track, Calix raps: “And I stink, five bottles but I feel empty / I’m gonna steal a car, and drive ’til I kill my envy. “
For reasons unknown to the protagonist of “Crash And Burn”, the club he frequents is raided by the police who arrest his friends and brutally mutilates the crowd while planting evidence. After that, “what follows is a whole story of revenge against the police.” It starts with the ultraviolent ‘KAC’ (or ‘Kill A Cop’) fantasy, which finds Calix delivering deadly promises: “If you give me money then I’ll buy a fuckin ‘gun / Pull the trigger, kill a cop, dump my clips’ til I got some. “
“If you understand the story, then that’s cool,” Calix says of the overall narrative, “but for me [the songs] can also be left alone. It’s hard not to miss the message, however, especially in the guest verses of Promote Violence and Mocksmile, the latter of which rapped: “Finger shot on automatic bullets trigger (full clip) / Rollie pollutes hundred hollow holes on a fascist (headshot). “
“Crash And Burn” is Calix’s first release under the new label LIAB, or Lightning In A Bottle, Studios, which were keen to give him full creative control even before signing with them. It was an unexpected source of stress for the veteran producer. “I wanted to do so much that I couldn’t decide what. It’s like a self-induced writer’s block. It was difficult to channel my ideas into a song, ”admits Calix. In the end, he used “brutal willpower” in an effort to “rationalize the things I [wanted to] to do. This help[ed] I laser focus on one task at a time.
Many Calix fans know him best as a live electric performer. In cramped pubs, he almost struggles with the crowd, involving them in the performance as soon as the first backbeats blast from the speakers. “I love playing live, it’s a different freak and a different vibe,” he says. “These days, I hesitate to say yes to online concerts. How do you connect to the public via a webcam? There is no participation. The audience must be part of the performance.
In the past, Calix strategized for his performances, plotting how he would deliver each song in a live setting. But the test of “Crash and Burn” was how it could achieve a comparable level of emotional depth through the listeners’ headphones. “It has to pass some kind of repeatability test for me. Doing it live is a problem for the future, ”he said.
“Kolateral educated people, that’s what we wanted to happen. But it was a failure in a way because his message was symbolized “
Listeners also know Calix as a brand who isn’t afraid to blow up the state and its merchants of power. A typical Calix set usually begins with the crowd jumping, doing heavy cardio, and ends with insults to the chairman in chorus. In 2019, he was part of the team that recorded and released ‘Kolateral’, an album that tackled the ‘war on drugs’ started by the Duterte administration, and the record for which he is probably the more famous.
The 12 song compilation, featuring Kartell’em, Pure Mind Quiet Heart and a host of other hip-hop artists, tells untold stories of victims of the war on drugs. The concept was launched by the collective of artist-researchers Sandata, of which Calix is a member, which drew its words and stories from interviews with witnesses and families of victims. All of the songs from “Kolateral” were made available for free online, which helped its rapid spread to bars, student chat rooms, and protests – even leading to a tour of the album in the States. -United.
Calix presents his honest assessment of the impact of ‘Kolateral’ to the best of his ability: “It was both a success and a failure. The album drew on a narrative that was absent from mainstream media: the real life stories of the victims of the state’s drug war. When it snowballed, it educated people too, and that’s what we wanted to happen. But it was somewhat of a failure because his message was symbolized. People sometimes use [the hashtag] #StreamKolateral to accumulate wake-up points.
But no contributor to the album can be the final judge of his influence, he concludes. “To be honest, I won’t be able to fully assess its impact. History will do it for us.
Released on November 12, “Crash And Burn” arrived amid the media circus announcing the Philippine presidential elections of 2022. Calix says the timing is a coincidence, although the EP still serves as a critic of some sort. “It’s meant to be timely and timeless: timeless because we’re still dealing with a police state, and it has been like that for much of modern Filipino history,” he says. “I wish it wasn’t like that. I wish we didn’t have to write songs about these issues. But for now, it’s a necessary contribution to this conversation.
Take ‘Some of Y’all Pt. 2’, a sequel to M4660T’s 2020 song, starring Calix and BLKD, which tackles political capitulations. On ‘Crash And Burn’, the trio once again blame renegade and liberal leadership in Filipino politics for a mocking brass section during hooks. The song illustrates Calix’s rage against ‘neoliberal disease’, which the rapper describes as ordinary people pitting themselves against each other in crippling competition – whether in work, the arts or education – while that those in power reap the benefits.
But as the Philippines grapples with the lockdown, its crazy politics, and the violence that goes with it, Calix is the first to downplay the importance of his art, even though music is the antidote to sitting idly by and absorb all the anxiety.
“Art is only an accessory. It can get things done, but remains ineffective in its form, ”he argues. “The movements have primacy. Action can and has historically been proven to bring about change. But art? I don’t know about it. He humbly adds: “These are just songs. Actions are more important.
Calix’s “Crash And Burn” Now Available