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    Tuesday, October 8, 2019

    #ThemeSongTuesday: Takin' Names

    If you've seen the TV plug for PWR Special: Homecoming on One Sports, then you might have noticed a banger in the background, setting the tone for both the plug and the show. With the event centered around the theme of bringing together the best Filipino talent from all around the world, it was only fitting that PWR applied the same logic on the event's theme song.

    Here's the full version of the official PWR Special: Homecoming theme song, "Takin' Names" by Ruby Ibarra featuring Bambu and Nump.

    Ruby Ibarra is a California-based rapper who grew up in Tacloban. Having watched the Master Rapper, Francis M., as a child, Ruby Ibarra was inspired to take up the pen and the mic and spit bars. Her days as a spoken word artist helped her develop into the rapper she is today, with her songs being inspired by her Filipino heritage and her experiences as an immigrant into the U.S.

    "Takin' Names" has been out for about a couple of years now, but its music video—directed by Ibarra herself—didn't drop until Bonifacio Day last year. 

    The first verse introduces us to Ibarra's narration of the Filipino experience from our history with colonialism to contemporary Pinoys struggling to accept the color of their own skin, how they deal with their English accent, or how we look for cheap alcohol just to get by after a long day of just trying to get by.

    What I like about Ruby Ibarra is how she doesn't sound like your typical Filipino rapper. If you listen to enough Filipino hip-hop, you'll be familiar with the elementary cadence that some of these rappers go for by default. One of the more recent egregious examples is HBOM's own verse in his latest single, "Bent." It's like he just totally relied on beat, and the times he did try to break from the bars, he just stumbled all over the beat, making the verse sound disjointed.

    Ibarra doesn't have that problem. In fact, she's comfortable with her trap beat enough to vary the way she spits. She starts out with an aggressive cadence that could remind you of Cardi B when the latter released "Bodak Yellow." But Ibarra isn't afraid to suddenly speed it up mid-verse the way Eminem would in his guest verses, particularly in songs like "Majesty," "Homicide," and "Forever."

    Los Angeles-based rapper Bambu comes in for the second verse, and he just brings the fire from the get-go. I love how he code-switches between verses, which is something you'd expect from local rappers, especially if you listen to a lot of local hip-hop now. But I wouldn't have expected it from an MC based in the U.S. So he already gets major props for that.

    While Ibarra's first and third verses allude to some socio-political tropes that Filipinos locally and abroad go through, Bambu grounds them and paints a particular picture in the second verse. From the corruption in the police and the government, to Fil-Ams going all out on activities like Filipino Heritage Night but not experiencing anything Filipino in their lives beyond that, to extra-judicial killings here in the Philippines, Bambu doesn't back down and does so with a flair that doesn't keep him to the structure of the bars in the song.

    "Takin' Names" wasn't the first song I immediately thought of when the idea of a theme song for PWR Special: Homecoming crossed my mind. But after several listens, I can see how this song absolutely fits the show as its anthem. With a show the magnitude of Homecoming, PWR is on a mission to show the country—and the world—what the Philippine brand of wrestling is all about. It's not just about showing everyone we have a scene down here. It's about introducing the world to the Filipino and everything we're all about. And in the process, PWR is taking names and making no bones about it.

    Header image from Ruby Ibarra's Twitter


    Smark Henry is independently owned and managed by a group of Filipino pro wrestling fans, but it includes members affiliated with the Philippine Wrestling Revolution.

    PWR Special: Homecoming is happening on Saturday, October 12, 7:30 PM, at the ABS-CBN Vertis Tent. You can still get your tickets at ticket2me.net at the following prices: PhP 2,499 for Gold, PhP 1,999 for Silver, and PhP 750 for Bronze. Bundle deals are also available at PhP 4,000 for three (3) Bronze tickets, PhP 5,500 for three (3) Silver tickets, PhP 6,000 for five (5) Bronze tickets, and PhP 8,500 for five (5) Silver tickets.


    Stan Sy (@_StanSy) is the Editor at Large of Smark Henry and is also a radio DJ on Wave 89.1, an events host, a freelance writer, and one of the hosts of The Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. He also used to be one of the hosts and writers of The Wrestling Gods on FOX. He enjoys watching WWE, NXTLucha Underground, and the occasional New Japan match. You can ask him questions about wrestling, Survivor (yes, the reality show), or whatever you like on his CuriousCat account.
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    Item Reviewed: #ThemeSongTuesday: Takin' Names Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Stan Sy
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