The importance of talking with your community is really driven home to me when Prometheus Brown and I begin to chat about where we've come from just to meet. Despite my attempts to escape Bremerton I still call it home after the last 15 years. He called it home once too. “Bambu (his partner in The Bar) and I have that in common, man. Both our Dad’s recruited into the US Navy out of Subic Bay, and were stationed in Hawaii. My dad retired and worked in the Shipyard in Bremerton, but when I lived there I maintained that I was a Hawaii kid," he laughs.
(I spent the same amount of time in the Navy as his dad, and wound up in Bremerton for the same reasons)
“Funny thing is Bambu loves it there, he wants to do shows in Bremerton every six months” he says. “Bambu and I met because back in the early 2000s you could count on two hands the number of Filipino rappers, we all knew eachother through student unions and stuff he started to tour the same time as Blue Scholars because of his album with Native Guns. The Bar came about because after we realized we had all of this stuff in common –our dad’s in the Navy, Hawaii, hip hop, we spent like five days in Hawaii literally hanging out at the bar all day and going to the studio after. We’d decided to try and do three songs and wound up with like five or six. We looked at it and realized we had an EP”.
One of the first shows was in Bremerton. “Back then the group was literally called Prometheus Brown and Bambu Walk Into A Bar. One song off of that called “Lookin Up” was so well received that we decided, hey, lets actually dedicate some time to this instead of just saying we’ll do it whenever, so we made trips back and forth between here and Oakland and spent time in the studio together to really get that vibe”.
The result of that decision is Barkada, an immaculately produced album mixed by DJ Npharedwhose beats explode in riots of color like flowers in the tropics in Spring. Bam and Pro rounded up some interesting friends for the project. Rap phenom La makes an appearance: “when I get writer’s block I put on La, man” he says “his flow is so…natural”. Along with Kixxie Siete they filmed the video for the song "Mits" right outside of their last Food and Sh*t pop-up to give it a rapping on your break from the kitchen vibe. The songs "cockfight" and "Manny" feature infectious beats, but also delve into serious questions about heritage and tradition, providing vs. surviving, and island-vice-mainland culture, and feature rapping in filipino tagalog, a language that seems built for rapping. Mario Sweet makes an appearance in the nostalgic/nasty "Auntie", a love song to all Mom’s friends that awakened sexual interest in Prometheus and Bambu as adolescents. The album opens with the blistering hot, moombathon beat "Live From Hawaii" that sees your boys blazing on the H1, and since I keep trying to make this article about me, I’ll tell you my favorite song is far and away "Dead Serious", the jam that guests Thig Nat and Hollis and lays down the resplendent sort of reasoning that makes The Bar worth listening to “Me and G about that moderation real tough, we’d rather see you schooled up than out here fucked up” is a sentiment so sincere, so honest that if you hadn’t come from a familial place you’d sound cheesy trying to kick it.
There is no cheese in Filipino food like there is in my familial Mexican food. There is shrimp paste, though. While jamming on a dish called Pinkabet –a saucy mix of bitter melon, sweet potato, and chunky okra, shrimp, and pork, in a tomato base—I notice I don’t really care for the island potato, but dig the mix of bitter, and pungent fishy taste. It was then Prometheus Brown held his hands out to my girlfriend and I “I’m so proud of both of you for really digging in,” he looked at me and laughed “and I can’t believe you took a second bite of that bitter melon man.” After that we had chicken adobo, a sweet, spicy, savory dish. My mouth was so fucking happy. We talked a little more, I payed for lunch, and complimented the food, then he left me with one more thought about his music, and his pop up plans “Eventually we’ll own this place,” he said “it’s not a matter of how, it’s just a matter of when.”
The Greek titan Prometheus is credited with giving humans fire, enabling civilization and progress, and angering the gods. Seattle’s Prometheus has done the same, whether kicking out lyrical heat with Sabzior Bambu, or cooking it up in the kitchen with his family, but enabling a better civilization by bringing communities together is definitely the greatest trick he’s played on the powers that be so far.