Remember “Itsumo”? The song was released back in 2004 and immediately became the first big hit of the Cebu-based hiphop group, MOBBSTARR. The group got signed to Warner Music Philippines, moved to Manila. and soon got invites from Japan, the US, Australia, and the Middle East, eventually being nominated for “Favorite Group” at the 2004 MTV Asia Awards.
MOBBSTARR's work instantly paid off after their biggest hit "Itsumo" — the song was critically praised and would later signal the group’s ascent to hip-hop royalty status. On their journey and what they've been up to on their short music breaks, DiCE shared, "We started locally in Cebu as DiCE & K9 way back 2003 with me & K9, and later on, Hi-C and Trapp joined in. We were just writing a few songs, and then one day, we finally made a hit with the song ‘Itsumo,’ which brought us to the capital, Manila. K9 left, went home to Cebu to be with his family. We released another album in 2006. Sometime later, Trapp left for the USA. Klumcee joined us for the fourth album, Time Space Rhythm Starrs where Eargasmic was part of. Members left; new members came. Truly, it was a wonderful experience. We got to meet new people who shared the same passions as us, go to places and perform, meet our fans, and even get to collect a few awards now and then, Asiawide. A few years later, Hi-C released her solo project before we decided to take a break to come back home, spend some time with our families, and even started our own business, ‘Clubholic’. Despite the long break, we still had a strong connection with music, we have been releasing singles every now and then as music is our ‘de-stresser’. That's then Garvie came to the picture and became a great addition to the group so recently, we’ve started releasing music again."
To that end, what’s made MOBBSTARR one of the country's most enduring hip-hop groups is that despite working against time and member changes, they managed to still go heavy on their grind and keep serving their loyal Pinoy and international fans. "In the beginning, we were only making music because we loved and enjoyed making it. However, after making it big, it somewhat started to feel more like a job and not something we did out of pure passion. I think it’s a good thing that we became aware of this because most of the time, you don’t even notice it, and in worse cases, some people would even lose interest. And so, once we realized this, we collectively decided to go back to our roots and remind ourselves why exactly we started making music in the first place, which was purely out of love for it, and I think that’s one of the reasons as to why we’re still here," DiCE said as he reflected on the group's secret to staying on top of their game all these years later.
"Looking back on everything we’ve gone through not only as a group but also as individuals, there were times where we wished we could have done better or known better; it has truly shaped who we are today not only as musicians but also as regular people. We’ve learned so much in the past few years about the music industry and ourselves as musicians. Today, we’ve become even more appreciative of music, its craft, and other artists. However, there’s still so much we have yet to learn in the coming years and, we look forward to it all," Hi-C added. It’s their gracious spirit that endears them to others, and why they’re able to rope in other hip-hop greats for their projects: Gloc-9, Sun Valley Crew, Mike Swift, Syke, Loonie, and Squid 9.
You would think that, with so many achievements behind them, things would slow down a little for them. Far from it. Recently, the group released a new single, entitled, "Needs + Wants."
We released this song with the intention of catering to both our generation and the newer generation by giving them a sound that has an 80s vibe to it which is very nostalgic for our generation while also adding the current tempo and giving them something new to spike the interest of the newer generation," explained Garvie.
"Every album we’ve released in the past always had a concept, so they were always different, and the same goes for our creative process when it comes to making it. For this new song, because it is one of the singles that is part of our upcoming EP, it will give the audience a hint of the concept we are going for," DiCE added.
On what's it like reintroducing MOBBSTARR to the younger audience, DiCE said, "We are very excited and somewhat nervous to be introducing our new music, especially towards the younger audience. We know very well that 'hip-hop is a young man’s game,' so, of course, we always keep them in mind. However, since people’s interests in sound, especially when it comes to hip-hop, changes quite often, it can be quite challenging to keep up with it at times so, not only do we try to keep up with it, we also try to get ahead of it because what better way to catch people’s attention other than to introduce them to something new and something they might enjoy."
For the single's visuals, Hi-C shared, "We flew to Japan for the music video right before the Quarantine and lockdown happened. As for its concept, she continued, “As human beings, it's in our nature to love and be loved. The desire to be loved and nurtured is one of our most basic and fundamental needs. Basically, the concept is portraying different people with different needs and wants. Wanting back a lost love; the need to be loved back as it is not a guarantee that you get the same amount of love and affection that you give but you give it anyway."
"We are technically the MV’s crew + three. My makeup artist Chady also became one of the lights and sounds men, along with Jerc and Garvie, I did help, too. DiCE and Chano took turns with the camera, they are also directing and editing it. Everyone has their assignments. Nobody was left with nothing to do. We scouted the locations even before coming to Japan, some are places we’ve already been to and some impromptu. Shooting in a very freezing weather was the hardest part especially those scenes we shot at dawn. And some we reshot because I don't like how my hair looked in some scenes. It's a sad song with a sad music video. But, shooting it was definitely fun... and cold."
Over the years and with people still vibing to "Itsumo" up to this day, MOBBSTARR has definitely had big moments where their music connected with the public on a higher level. On how they hope their fans would react to the new single, Hi-C said, "We believe that people who have followed us in our journey in music will appreciate the project especially since they probably expected us to come up with something unexpected or new. Along with it, for every album or song we create is usually catches different fans of music because we like to experiment and borrow sounds from other genres so we hope to do the same for this upcoming project as well."
MOBBSTARR's "Needs + Wants" is now available on all digital platforms.