Friday, August 6, 2010

5th Anniversary: Top 10 Moments

10 Changing the name Albanians to 'Pigeons'
After a series of unprovoked and vicious attacks from amateur Albanian rappers I decided that instead of responding in kind, I would christen their entire nation "pigeons". I went on to amass thousands of signatures supporting a petition which was to be submitted to the UN and officially change the name "Albanians" to "pigeons". The term continues to enjoy widespread use among the Serbian diaspora where it is synonymous with hostile Albanians. I was inspired by the double-headed burnt pigeon on the Albanian flag. Even though I don't condone this sort of activity anymore and have gone on to befriend numerous Albanian females (pigeon heads) I still oppose any illegal and immoral annexation of Serbian territory.
9 Charity Work
Philanthropy went hand in hand with our projects from the very beginning. Some of our early work included the successful “Save Viktor” campaign that was aimed at raising funds for the transfer of five-and-a-half-year-old stage 4 neuroblastoma cancer patient Viktor Tomasevic to Germany from Bosnia and Herzegovina for treatment. We used all our resources to bring attention to this cause and encouraged people to make donations and rewarded them with free mixtapes. Additionally, we donated proceeds of sales of Kosovo, Vijetnam, for the restoration efforts of Serbian monasteries desecrated by Albanian extremists in Kosovo. Ironically enough, "Serbian hero" or "sore loser" (as he's better known in the West) Milorad Cavic backed out of a promotional agreement for the Kosovo project and subsequently received a phone call from us notifying him he'd be swimming "in the east river" instead of the Beijing Olympics. He seemed shaken up by the whole ordeal so we take credit for him being forever known as simply 'the guy who lost to Michael Phelps and whined about it'.
8 Camouflaged
The video for this song was shot with a $40 Sony Handycam Camcorder equipped with a $5 Fisheye lens (that we had to duct-tape on) and a BlackBerry camera with chaotic time constraints during my '08 trip to NYC. It currently has 125,000+ views on YouTube and was featured on every major hip hop site from OnSMASH to SOHH to WSHH and stands as a testament to our minimalist approach (combined with our creative genius) resulting in maximum results. The locations were Elmhurst, Queens, Times Square, the Five Points and the futuristically designed L'Ecole Victor Brodeur in Victoria, BC. My flashy wardrobe from the shoot was distributed to friends who undoubtedly stored the garments in a safe in hopes of one day auctioning them off for a fortune.

7 Making Mixtape Covers an Art
In the winter of '05 I received a Myspace message from a lanky, olive-skinned aspiring artist by the name of 'Muny Mark' offering his
services. Having just sold 10,000+ units of the Sizzerb Vol. 1 mixtape, this period marked the height of label interest and I was not trying to talk to anyone who wasn't an A&R. Our initial correspondence was slow...that was until I saw his work. In a window of 48 hours the newly-named 4AM (because he literally stayed up until 4AM to finish) knocked out the Rane cover (parts of which were hand drawn) and the Sizzerb mixtape vol. 2 cover. The prolific genius has gone on to create every single one of my masterpiece covers (one of which was copied by Lil Wayne), videos, logos, photos, clothing designs, necklace designs and tattoo designs, since. In addition, he served as associate-executive producer on several of my mixtapes, helping me with samples and (with Kiza) organizing collaborations. Now known by his government name, Marko Sejat, in my humble and unbiased opinion is the best graphic designer in the world. He's currently entering year 5 of a 150-year deal with Filipi Music Group, ensuring that not only he, but his (and Branka's) kids as well, will continue to make generations of Filipi's look fly.
6 Revolutionizing Serbian Rap
The groundbreaking (and nerve-wrecking) Rane series introduced (in chronological order): sped up vocal samples, autotune and chop and screw to the Serbian music scene. It helped launch the careers of (homos) Elitni Odredi, Cvija, Rolex, Dada, Coby and numerous other young artists on top of bringing VIP back into the mainstream (from obscurity). The Upoznaj Srbiju trilogy introduced Serbian rap to the world and bridged the gap between musicians in Serbia and in the Serbia diaspora. 'Beef' was also introduced as a promotional tool and helped build buzz surrounding my projects at the expense of other rappers feelings. Our production, which mixed pop, R&B, electro and even folk elements, helped bring the Serbian rap scene out of a mid-90s time warp. Hits like Persijska Princeza, Kazu Mi, Mandoline and Don Brate defined Serbian rap music from '05 to '10. All this success, of course, produced a great deal of haters, who among other things ludicrously questioned the fact I was Serbian(?!). A great (camel) man once said "Men lie, women lie, but numbers don't" and I will leave the haters with another non-Serbian quote; "Veni, vidi, vici"
5 Fox News interview
The controversy surrounding the Miladin Kovacevic case and the demands for his extradition by the US government (and my disapproval of it) brought me head to head with one of the most infamous tools of American propaganda: Fox News. An up and coming reporter by the name of Jackie Kane spotted a Facebook group I had created which denounced double standards by opposing the extradition of Miladin to America (a country which has never extradited any of its citizens who have committed crimes in foreign countries). An interview was arranged and I valiantly defended the perspective shared by myself and my countrymen (much to the chagrin of senator Chuck Schumer). Miladin is currently awaiting trial in Serbia (Random fact: my uncle actually testified at the case because he works for the Serbian consulate in NYC) and the Serbian government has paid compensation to the victim and his family. In a related matter I did manage to get Jackie's number and she's eagerly awaiting my next visit to Binghamton in upstate New York.
4 Name Change
After 10 mixtapes under the 'Sin' moniker I decided it was time to grow up and start using my real name. The name change also matched the evolution which was taking place with my music so it was only right to make the switch before I started Design and Origin of Stars and Vavilon. A major factor in the decision was the fact that I'm the only 'Filip Filipi' in the world and Sin was such a common term. This was compacted by the notion that to some people 'Sin' had a religious connotation, when in reality it was short for 'Sincere' (a character played by Nas in the 1998 Hype Williams movie Belly). Also to dispel some myths about the origin of my name I'd like to inform everyone that Filipi is the slavicized version of the Greek 'Philippi' which was a city frequently mentioned in the Bible (Philippians). But no, I'm not Greek nor do I know why the fuck so many Albanians have that last name so please don't start any new rumors. I got the name because 300 years ago some asshole ancestor of mine came from either Bologna or Sicily to Dalmatia and the name stayed on the paternal side. It has come to my attention there has been quite a bit of debate on the internet about this and I would like to state once and for all that I'm Serbian (not Italian, Sicilian, Albanian, Polish, Jewish, etc)!
3 Persijska Princeza
The second Bijelo Dugme sample I turned into a hit, this time using 'U vrijeme otkazanih letova' became my most famous song in Serbia and after dominating the radio for 2 years currently sits at over a million views on YouTube (which is insane considering there are only 8 mil. Serbs in Serbia). The track was my brainchild from the start and I went on to co-produce the beat, co-write everyone's parts and co-direct the video for it. Elitni Odredi, despite being known for this song, had nothing to do with it and basically received a open verse with detailed instructions on how not to fuck it up. The video was shot before Boban Rajovic's show in Vancouver in February of '09 after a long delayed flight from Paris. We had about 45 minutes to finish the whole thing and after fashioning him with Ognjen's Palestinian scarf we got right down to business. He was a real soldier about it and went on to deliver a charismatic performance (without make up, which he initially demanded) despite not remembering any of the words. The results reflected the hasty filming schedule (we had to use a black marker to fill the green on my shirt so it wouldn't bleed through the green screen) but it's still probably the "greatest Serbian rap video ever". Random Fact: Me and Boban discussed a swap of my BlackBerry for his $500 moccasin inspired Gucci boots but it turned out they were too small (however, he did try to take off with Ognjen's scarf).
2 Boom
A song I came close to cutting (to this day I don't like it) before Aaron Bold's philistine musical taste correctly predicted it would become a hit, is undeniably my most renowned work to date. Propelled by the Shane's Sparks choreographed routine on the season finale of the the number one rating show So You Think You Can Dance, the song was heard by over 13 million people in the USA and Canada as well as millions more internationally. It currently has 2.5+ million views on Youtube (all the videos combined are closer to 5 million), was used on the Serbian version of Survivor (they still haven't paid me) and has been become a regular tune in dance schools from Brazil to Thailand. I have released several remixes but none has come close to the success of the original. The song was a blessing and a curse at the same time because despite being a very popular song it attached my name to a style of music which I had no real interest in pursuing. It also wasn't a good indicator of my overall body of work and created problems with labels who expected me to make more of the same.

1 Making it Cool to be Serbian
From groundbreaking music, to fashion, to political initiatives to overall s-w-a-g, as depicted in #'s 1-9, my team and I have given the Serbian youth positive role models to look up to and admire. From 1389 Records to the Sizzerb mixtape series to the Rane series to commercial hits on TV and radio I've always strived to be authentic and incorporate my culture into my art. I've assembled a team of the most creative minds Serbia has to offer (see Sejat, Marko & Gasic, Djordje), I've worked with top American musical talents (Collie Buddz, SoShy, Ace Hood, etc) and top Serbian musical talents (Boban Rajovic, Natasa Kojic, etc). I've collaborated with top Serbian athletes (Ana Ivanovic, Neven Subotic), I graced the cover of every magazine in the dijaspora (Kisobran, Objektiv, etc) and I didn't back down from Albanian terrorists (despite stabbings, death threats) nor media miscreants (Fox News, B92). I made commercial hits (Boom, Persijska Princeza) and I've made songs that touch people (Mandolins, Blood in My Eyes), I've failed and succeeded many times but most importantly I DID IT MY WAY. (Not bad for someone who has zero natural musical ability)