Shanti Dope’s camp slams PDEA’s bid to ban rap song ‘Amatz’
MANILA, Philippines — The attempt of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to ban the song of rapper Shanti Dope for allegedly inspiring recreational marijuana use “sets a dangerous precedent for creative and artistic freedom in the country,” the artist’s management asserted Thursday.
A statement posted on Shanti Dope’s Facebook page slammed the anti-drug agency for its “interpretation” of “Amatz”, where several lines are supposedly taken out of context.
“This ban sets a dangerous precedent for creative and artistic freedom in the country, when a drug enforcement agency can unilaterally decide on what a song is about, and call for its complete ban because it is presumed to go against government’s war on illegal drugs,” Shanti Dope Management said.
“We also take offense at the manner in which this questionable interpretation of the song ‘Amatz’ has been used to malign Shanti himself,” it added. “This is a brazen use of power, and an affront to our right to think, write, create, and talk freely about the state of the nation.”
SHANTI DOPE MANAGEMENT STATEMENT RE PDEA’S CALL TO BAN THE SONG “AMATZ”Today, May 23 2019, the media alerted Shanti…
PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino earlier issued a statement, saying he has reached out to the Movie and Television Review Classification Board (MTCRB), ABS-CBN Corporation, and Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit (OPM) to stop the song’s airing.
According to Aquino, the rap song goes against the government’s program against illegal drugs because it allegedly encourages people to use marijuana, particularly citing the lines: “Lakas ng amats ko, sobrang natural, walang halong kemikal”, and “Ito hinangad ko; lipadin ay mataas pa sa kayang ipadama sa’yo ng gramo, ‘di bale ng music ikamatay”.
Shanti Dope Management encouraged Aquino to listen to the song as a whole, defending that it actually speaks against illegal drugs – contrary to the PDEA chief’s belief.
“We enjoin Director Aquino to listen to the whole song, and not just take a few lines out of context. The song begins with the persona talking about the ill effects, the violence, and dangers of drugs: ‘Kamatayan o parak / Na umaga o gabi, may kahabulan / Dami ng nasa ataol pa / Hangang katapusan laki ng kita sa kahuyan,’ it explained.
“It then continues to talk about the lessons from the persona’s father, and how this persona was challenged to go beyond the expected: ‘Sabi nila sa’kin nung bata, ay / Ano ka kaya pag tanda mo? / Ito hinangad ko lipadin ay mataas pa / Sa kaya ipadama sa’yo ng gramo / ‘Di bale nang musika ikamatay / Kesa pera’t atraso, bala ng amo,’ it added.
Shanti Dope Management further insisted the rap song never promoted the use of marijuana.
“None of it promotes marijuana use. In fact it clearly shows the persona taking a stand against illegal drugs, while at the same time pointing out that what made him ‘fly’ (so to speak) is not drugs, but music,” it noted.
The artist’s management then explained that the “high” mentioned in the song is in line with Shanti Dope’s belief in Buddhism.
“‘Amatz’ already refers to precisely the music through which the persona found his identity – not any form of drugs, but the natural high of creativity and knowing he is the only one who knows to do what he does,” the management clarified.
“This is what the next verse then focuses on, complete with the ideological anchor of Shanti’s upbringing in Buddhism, with references to concepts such as mahamantra and chakra, as a response in the end to those who think they know the persona, but in fact know little about him,” it also said. (Editor: Katherine G. Adraneda)