By Aaris A. Schroeder
This is the story of Philip Singer, a Los Angeles, CA-based emcee and battle rapper who goes by the moniker METAPHYSICAL, originally from Central Valley town of Goshen, CA where he moved with his family back in ‘78 began his journey into rhythm in the later ‘80s as a kid.
He then continued his path, although difficult and heart-wrenching, throughout the ‘90s; the center of the classic Golden Era of Hip Hop (1986-1996) and where many other underground artists on the West Coast began their paths to continuous creating, success performing and spreading the word as a part of the early Hip Hop Backpack Movement.
Starting off his passion for rhyme; listening to Grand Master Flash as he learned how to match the rap flow with the poetry. A young METAPHYSICAL in sixth grade began writing his own creative bars. Later, in high school, he could be found performing in talent shows and flow-worthy rap battles under the moniker Phili Fresh; a name he gave himself in ninth grade due to his patronage towards Doug E. Fresh. He remembers flowing against other rappers in high school such as a Gator Ry who would just walk up to him wanting to battle.
“I just couldn’t get past him.” METAPYHYSICAL remembers Gator Ry stopping him in the halls wanting to battle it out.
After high school, METAPHYSICAL joined the the National Guard in CA at 17-years-old and eventually settled in Los Angeles where he was a part of the Los Angeles Race Riots in ’92. After he saw the destruction that happened, he left the military and settled in Los Angeles where he began networking, writing music and following his path to become a vital Hip Hop artist.
METAPHYSICAL spent much of his time performing poetry at Da’ Poetry Lounge in West Hollywood, every Tuesday and would hit up open mics all over the city. Another hot poetry spot that got its start in 1990 and is well known amongst the creative conscious Hip Hop heads is The Good Life in Los Angeles.
This is the birthplace for conscious, underground Hip Hop and health; according to Janie “IfaSade” Scott-Goodkin and Omar AKA Dr. Phillip Walker, PHD and where anyone from Denzel Washington or Maya Angelou to Rosa Parks would stop by to have a healthful, organic meal. This is where several popular, conscious artists were developed and driven from. In 1991, Hip Hop artists, poets of all kinds, drumming circles, reggae performers and even lecturers shared the stage all joining The Good Life including talent such as The Freestyle Fellowship, Myka9 and Aceyalone, Abstract Rude, KTF Entertainment among other legends, according to The Good Life, Los Angeles official Website.
“I was mainly going to Da’ Poetry Lounge in West Hollywood every month but you had open mic cafes everywhere in L.A. back in the ‘90s.” says METAPHIYSICAL.
In ’94, METAPHYSICAL was driving home from a friend’s apartment following a party and got into a terrible car accident after transferring lanes onto the freeway in the rain. METAPHYSICAL’s tires were not up to par and ended up sliding into a telephone pole when he meant to merge onto the freeway. About 30-days later, METAPHYSICAL came out of a coma with his girlfriend at the time next to his side. The coma caused the onset of having epileptic seizures and the loss of a lot of his memory and ability to stand and walk.
“I was hugely humbled having to relearn to talk and walk again. I had all kinds of songs [that I could] recite to myself but couldn’t even say, ‘my name is Philip Singer.’ Without a breathing issue.” METAPHYISICAL remembers how he became inspired by his own growth and decided to keep at his path towards Hip Hop and the successes he finds within the culture.
Before his coma, METAPHYSICAL tells UBO MAG, that he was not grateful or “giving thanks to God for just having life on this globe.” Once he came out of the coma, METAPHYSICAL feels as if God himself spoke to him, saying, “See, you almost died and didn’t even know this happened. Now, give thanks to me each and every day you live.”
METAPHYSICAL feels that because of this blessing of life, God has granted him opportunities such as getting music licencing opportunity to have his music featured in the film, “Teacher Of The Year” through Lower Merion Films of which opportunity came from contacting the press while searching for other opportunities to expand his audience and music reach.
“God is good and I’ve been blessed to always have lyrical content available during any of those time frames.” Explains METAPHYSICAL, “I like emcee battles because you’re always going to hear something you never thought about writing or just to listen to the temperament of the average emcees out here next to me. Now I live life by the day giving respect to God more than a few times daily.”
METAPHYSICAL is writing non-fiction storytelling raps, something that rappers like Humpty Hump (RIP April 21, 2021) of Digital Underground are known for. METAPHYSICAL brings his rhymes from the deep underground, listening to some of his work on songs like, “The Dirt” or “Figure Thieves Just Like Us,” both featured on his personal project, “Homelessness,” I am taken back in time, to the Golden Era of Hip Hop where emcees and groups like The A-Team (Aceyalone and Abstract Rude). The rhythms are distorted and follow the same recipe as other underground artists during his era like Living Legends (Murs, Scarub, Eligh), Aesop Fables, MF Doom, Blackalicious (Gift of Gab [RIP June 18, 2021] & Lateef The Truth Speaker), Quannum Project (Lateef & Lyrics Born), Ugly Duckling, Zion I (Baba Zumbi [RIP August 13, 2021] and AMPLive) among others.
METAPHYSICAL’S newest single, “Kept Dumb” also on the project “Homelessness,” is a narrative that METAPHYSICAL lives by while struggling, remembering what is important in life and where he stands spiritually. The song expels the idea that the mass media keeps people ‘dumb’ so that they can’t see clearly what is really going on behind closed doors.
Homelessness is something than many people, including METAPHYSICAL have experienced and especially in Los Angeles where according to the Los Angeles Homelessness Authority, there are 41,290 homeless people in just the city; a total of 66,436 in Los Angeles County and even more disturbing, there are 151, 000 homeless in California in total (that are trackable). The entire U.S. has over 568,000 homeless people and with the extremities of COVID that cause job disparity for all different types of earners; where renters cannot pay rent and where landlords cannot take care of their mortgages, the rates of homelessness are only rising.
“I was homeless for a couple of years after 2018 because of my epilepsy disability.” Says METAPHYSICAL who refused to take his medicine for several years and whose doctors explained that his seizures, which continued since his head trauma would only continue to worsen if he did not take care of himself. Because of his self-neglect, he now is disabled, living with epilepsy. Luckily, METAPHYSICAL decided to take his medication and is doing much better although he is back on the streets again due to a discrepancy with Los Angeles Housing Authority.
Listening to METAPHYSICAL’s music takes me back, personally to when I was discovering CA’s diverse underground Hip Hop and decided to start UBOMAG (UndergroundBeatOnline, 2001). METAPHYSICAL song, “Hustler’s Brew,” also on the “Homelessness” project,brings back the raw poetic vibe that Los Angeles artists like Sunspot Jonez (Founding Member of Living Legends), Ab-Soul, Battle Axe Warriors and The Visionaries. Sometimes I yearn for more artists like this to drop music. This is why it is so important to listen to the veterans like METAPHYSICAL to bring it back and take action to educate the youth about this life-moving music.
“I will never quit trying to get this God-fearing conscious Hip Hop sound out to the world around us. I am a God-fearing lyricist watching human life on this globe [that is] in a state of selfish thought.” Says METAPHYSICAL who urges fellow citizens to say ‘hi’ to each other as you walk past each other on the streets.
METAPHYSICAL wants young people to know that if they plan to get into Hip Hop or music in general to not only focus on the rhythm and let what they write “come out of you” but to keep track of the music they write because one day it can then be used it to put together a book of poetry AKA Chapbook and even get it published professionally. The youth are here to help guide the future and with their words, they have the conscious choice to do so.
This is where the track, “GO FISH” comes into play on “Homelessness” which was only released a few months back on Soundcloud and bringing the same unique, complex, melodic melody and beat together with what METAPHYSICAL does best, writing intellectual rhymes. METAPHYSICAL emcee style is a ode to Los Angeles’s historic rise to the spoken word movement back in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Here is looking to the 2020’s!
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