Filipino-American rapper apl.de.ap of The Black Eyed Peas wants the West to sit up and take notice of music talent in South-east Asia . The 39-year-old Grammy Award- winning artist has set up a new Singapore-based record label and brand marketing company to boost the profile of music artists in the region.
Called BMBX Entertainment, it has signed three artists - Singaporean rapper Kevin Lester, Hong Kong-born singer Jessica Reynoso and Filipino metal band Slapshock - since it was set up last September. BMBX is the shortform for boombox.
Speaking to Life! at Music Matters, a music trade event held at the Ritz Carlton Millenia hotel last Thursday, apl.de.ap, whose real name is Allan Pineda Lindo, says his new venture allows him "to invest back into Asia".
He adds: "I just wanted to give the artists that Western production, but really create a movement here in Asia. We have so many people here that we need to tap into that, so that the West will be like, 'What's going on over there? There's something bubbling'."
He says he will be flying to this part of the region at least two to three times a month to oversee the operations at BMBX.
He declined to say how much he has invested in the company but adds that he is using his connections back home in Los Angeles to form collaborations with his group of South-east Asian artists.
Slapshock, BMBX's first signed artist, has already recorded new songs in Los Angeles with contributions from apl.de.ap; Shavo Odadjian, the bassist of Grammy Award-winning American rock band System Of A Down; and producer-engineer Damien Page Lewis, who has worked with stars such as Rihanna and Katy Perry.
Says apl.de.ap: "I was once a struggling artist, so I just want to help others, and provide my resources and connections and the people I know."
"But we also want to bring it back here, grow it and make it big here because there's enough of a market and people that we can distribute to."
He says he will continue sourcing for talent in the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia, and will not be limiting himself to any particular genre of music.
apl.de.ap discovered Lester's music through YouTube after his own manager asked him to check out the Singaporean some time last year.
He says of Lester: "Usually when you hear about rappers in Asia, they always try to be like gangsters and stuff like that and I don't get it. Kevin is just like us, a 'Pea' member, he just flows and he's himself with his artistry and not trying to be like anyone else."
Before signing on with BMBX this month, Lester had released three EPs and six singles, including the EPs Let's Talk About Kevin Lester (2010) and Everything You Love You Hate (2013).
The 29-year-old artist, who says he signed on to BMBX to build on his solo career in music, adds: "I really believe that if I want to do something great, I can't do it alone.
"It's great that BMBX was set up and it came at the right time as well, not just me, but that idea of apl bringing the energy into Asia, sharpening us to build this movement."
This article was first published on May 29, 2014.
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