The emergence of rap and hip-hop as a dominant moving force in local mainstream music has been undeniably noticeable. One only has to look at the mainstays of the streaming charts and viral hits in the past couple of years to find this to be true. And while we look at acts like hitmaker rap artist, BECAUSE, and superstar artist and musician, James Reid, as separate entities, the thread that makes up their music comes from the same sonic architects.
And that would be the likes of NEXXFRIDAY and NAKI—the co-founders of WAYBETTR. With NEXXFRIDAY having produced the chart-topping hits of so many Hip-Hop, Rap, and Pop acts such as Pakinabang by Ex Battalion and Sandali by Because to name a few, you have probably heard traces of the ever-evolving sound that is slowly making its way into the mainstream, which is the essence of WAYBETTR’s auditory direction.
WAYBETTR also aims to revolutionize the way the music production industry operates in Philippines, In the past couple of years, the community of Music Production in the Philippines has increased tenfold. From making beats, to mixing and mastering, what was once a niche-driven community has slowly entered the mainstream. With the co-founders being producers themselves, WAYBETTR is housing their own growing roster of producers and engineers to further push the community forward.
And NAKI, coming from a background in Digital and Performance Marketing, aims to change the way artists and creatives in the Philippines reach their audiences. He states, “The world is increasingly turning into a digital society, kaya isa sa mga direction that we want dito sa WAYBETTR is to be a digital-first label. This means majority of our operational and marketing efforts will leverage our understanding of data and technology, digital communities, and digital marketing.”
NAKI adds, “at the end of the day, lahat ng output natin as creatives, they’re digital products. Whether you’re an artist or a music producer, ang end-goal natin is to find the people that like our digital products and develop a two-way relationship that allows us to build communities and constantly grow our audiences.”
The VIVA Music Group recently announced their joint venture partnership with the founders of WAYBETTR, Emmanuel Salen, a.k.a NEXXFRIDAY, and Wilde Quimson, a.k.a NAKI—via a Zoom press conference last March 3, 2021. The partnership aims to cultivate the new generation of Hip-Hop, music production and give new up and coming creatives the centerstage.
With the genre of Hip-hop going strong in the Philippines, NAKI says that this is the perfect time to launch a collective like WAYBETTR to make the community even bigger, far-reaching, and stronger. “Yung hinahanap ng tenga ng mga tao, nag-iiba na. Look at the Top 40 on the leading streaming platforms, it’s either Pop or Hip-Hop. Even Pop music has borrowed tons of elements from the sound of Hip-Hop. With the younger generation being the tastemakers of today, we can definitely say that Hip-Hop is going to carve a large space in local mainstream music in the next couple of years”, states NAKI.
NAKI adds, “the generation I grew up in—and even the younger generation— ‘eto na yung sound nila. This is the culture that has shaped us, and ngayon we have a chance to shift that same culture. Eventually, when they become the primary taste and decision-makers of society, ‘pag tumanda na sila, they’re going to carry it with them. And where there is culture, there are values. We want to help be a beacon of quality, culture, and push for the values of the new generation and that’s why we feel it’s the perfect opportunity to push this wave further and show people that even though we have had a lot of western influences, merong Filipino creative collective na nag-bloom from the same ground they stand on. I’d like to think that the only thing WAYBETTR needs is time; it’s a ticking time bomb.”
NEXXFRIDAY, the young Hip-Hop production prodigy is thankful to those who have gone before them. “We also want to thank the people who came before us, yung mga nag-establish ng Hip-hop sa generation na kinalakihan namin that eventually led to this (referring to the scene),” as he cites his own influences that range from the legends and mainstay figures in the industry, such as Francis M., Rawstarr Records, Ex Battalion, and even battle rap culture with FlipTop,’ He adds, “kasi ‘yun talaga nag-commercialize ng hip-hop and rap music for our generation, and doon namin nakita na you can build communities from the results of your creativity.”
Both also cite the industry figures they look up to in the international scene and heavily inspire their work. NEXXFRIDAY cites the likes of “Mark Beats, Flip D, Bojam, Klumcee, pati na rin sila Mike Dean, OVO40, and Illangelo.”
NAKI adds, “And though most of our influences are western, we can make a sound (Hip-Hop and Rap) that’s our own (and create something) uniquely and recognizably Filipino. Stuff like that, and that’s what allowed us to pursue this and have this opportunity to work with Viva to make that happen.”
As an emerging start-up, NAKI cites his influences, “We look at ourselves as the disruptors in the industry, kasi we’re bring something new to the table and iba yung atake namin. I look up to the likes of Scooter Braun, Kanye West and Elon Musk, kasi he bet on a high-risk progressive solution that’s never been done before, and dito sa WAYBETTR, we’re approaching it in a similar way, pero spearheaded by the music.”
Their partners at VIVA Music Group believe that NEXXFRIDAY and NAKI are the future of Hip-hop and the music industry in the Philippines. And Viva is optimistic that the synergy of these youthful, progressive creatives will bring forth the future with the official launch of NEXXFRIDAY and NAKI’s WAYBETTR record label and production house. Not only will the duo lead in the production of music with their usual named collaborators, but they will also be managing new up and coming acts and nurturing the music careers of said acts.
One of them would be female R&B artist DENȲ. A singer-songwriter and dance artist whose music leans toward contemporary R&B and pop, DENȲ got her start in the Filipino music scene when she became a session musician for BECAUSE’s band in 2019. The latter pushed her to go deeper with her music and produced the first two tracks that eventually became DENȲ’s first singles.
DENȲ will now have the distinction of being the first official artist of WAYBETTR. She will be the first to test the waters of the local scene under the newly minted label heads’ production, creative direction, and management. DENȲ’s first single, called “Gusto With Ya”, is slated for release this March 12 on all digital streaming platforms.
To date, WAYBETTR already has a burgeoning, dynamic roster of artists under their label which includes DENȲ, FTD, Jae K, and the Tus Brothers, with some of their tracks already underway. With its own band of producers from all over the country, the music production house of NEXXFRIDAY and NAKI, along with their artists are excited at the prospect of working with like-minded creatives in the Philippines and especially Filipinos all over the world as well.
With majority of their roster having already made their mark in the local and underground hip-hop scene, alongside the progressive, digital-first direction of the label, WAYBETTR is bound to grow even stronger and achieve a new level of reach in the music industry of the Philippines and beyond.