Hip-hop artist Abra’s hit song “Gayuma” is well on its way to reaching 20 million views on YouTube—the highest number generated by any local artist. And although stoked by the unexpected popularity of his work, the 22-year-old rapper feels he may have unwittingly set the bar too high, even for himself.
But a little pressure never really hurt an artist. If anything, Abra, who’s slated to drop two music videos soon, is motivated to do even better.
“I’m coming out with ‘Alab ng Puso,’ one of the songs in the soundtrack of ABS-CBN’s ‘Juan de la Cruz’; and ‘Ilusyon,’ which has a socio-political theme. I’m pressured, yes—but pressured to improve. I intend to go all out to show and prove how good Filipino musicians can be,” he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer recently.
“I’m optimistic that my fans will continue to support me,” added Abra, whose real name is Raymond Abracosa.
And, boy, does he have a lot of them. At the recent 2013 Myx Music Awards (at the Music Museum), female fans jostled one another to have snapshots taken with Abra, who wore a tough-looking leather jacket. “Gayuma” won him two trophies—favorite urban video and favorite music video.
“I wasn’t expecting anything. Actually, my mind-set going in (to the awards) was, ‘Trophy lang ’yan (It’s just a trophy).’ But now that I’ve won two of them, I want to scream! I still can’t believe it,” he said.
Directed by Abra himself, along with Cristhian Escolano and Jasper Salimbangon, “Gayuma” is about a man and his transgender girlfriend, who used a love potion to seduce him. The video also features Thyro on vocals and, on guitar, Jeriko Aguilar.
The Inquirer asked Abra what he thought made the music video a huge hit. His answer: “I think it was a perfect mix of a catchy chorus and good rapping. The video also complemented the music really well. Plus, there were also a lot of twists. I wanted to present something new—not just the same old love rap songs.”
More importantly, the crew had a fun time doing the video, and that was reflected on the product. “We treated it like a school project—all good vibes during the shoot. It was a labor of love, so it came out well,” said Abra, who looks up to Gloc-9 and the late Francis Magalona for inspiration.
Abra—who started turning heads with his participation in the FlipTop Battle League, an underground contest for rappers—said he put out “Gayuma” not for fame or money, but for personal expression.
“The song and video were outlets of my creativity. I don’t consider myself mainstream, but I’m really glad that I gained mass recognition,” said Abra, who’s signed with an indie label Artifice Records.
At some point dismissed as jologs by not a few music snobs, Abra is thrilled about the steady surge in popularity of hip-hop over the past few years.
An accounting management graduate of the University of Asia and the Pacific, he first wanted to be a scientist, then a businessman. “But I can’t imagine doing anything else now that I’m here. Every day is an adventure for me—writing, performing, meeting new people, everything,” he said.
And as new as he is in the industry, some are already proclaiming him as a possible torchbearer of rap.