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Fil-Am rapper Christopher Catral—who goes by the alias MNL$ (read: Manila Money)—might (or might not be) new to your ears, but he’s not what you would consider a newbie to the music industry.

Before coming home to the Philippines, the California-born and raised musician has travelled and worked in both the US and Asia, collaborating with underground crews, fellow musicians, and even prominent K-Pop companies such as YG Entertainment and JYP Entertainment. He’s even found his fair share of success in South Korea, earning respect from colleagues and music fans alike.

With experience on his side, we couldn’t help but ask, “How different is it working on music between here and abroad?”

“It’s all the same. It’s just artists don’t get paid s***,” he candidly tells us.

Pointing to friends and disc jockeys (DJs) present during the exclusive interview, Catral says it doesn’t make sense how they get paid a thousand pesos for using so much prep time and two hours of providing music. He says it’d be like putting all the work for P400 because “depending on where you live, you’re gonna spend P500-600 [on transportation].”

“Back home in the States, minimum for a DJ would get P10,000,” he says. “For writing, that’s P200,000 minimum.”

The same is true in South Korea, so much so that he quit his day job—teaching. “The rates that you get as artist there is really high,” he explains, citing additional perks such as free time and a flexible schedule.

For the 36-year-old rapper, it’s important to recognize all the effort that creatives put into their craft. “How will these artists pursue being artists if they’re not getting paid right?” he muses.

Catral believes that giving the musician the compensation he/she rightfully deserve means “understanding the value in an artist.”

It’s a challenge that he sees in other local industries, too. “How [would] that work [for everyone]?” he asks. “I don’t know. I’ve only been here two years. I’m still figuring that out.”

Paid In Bawal, the latest album from Manila Money and his crew Bawal Clan, is now available for streaming on Spotify. For more updates, follow Bawal Clan on Instagram.

Featured Image by Madel Crudo

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