Rap wunderkind BJ Castillano a.k.a. Because shows he is beyond his years on the album “Rowena.”
The 18-year old rapper behind the streaming hits “Marlboro Black” and “Sandali” drops a mature sounding collection that cements his status as the preeminent young MC of his generation, and hints at a myriad of musical possibilities for him.
“Rowena” comes in the heels of last year’s hits-laden “Hearbreak SZN” album. Asked why he opted to release another full album instead of just singles, Because said, “I want to be consistent. Every year (I’ll release) an album, that’s the target.”
Because has the luxury of youth and vigor which comes across in his work. Whereas the previous album was “dark and everything was slow,” his latest is a burst of positivity and joy. “Gusto ko pag, pinakinggan mo siya, mai-in love ka,” he said.
That’s exactly how opening track “Hele (Wag Nang Lumabas)” sounds. Because sounds hazy and almost lazy in his delivery of this Generation Z-style sonnet as he half sings and speaks ‘Oh ipikit ang mga mata, ang isipin ay ‘wag iinda muna at, sa sandali, ating lasapin ang pag-ibig na buo / ‘Wag nang umalis, ‘wag nang lumabas, hayaan mo na lang sila na maghanap at sa sandali, iyong damdamin ang pag-ibig ko sa ‘yo” within lone piano setting.
It’s all love and devotion in the R&B-styled piano motifs that outline “Esmi.” Old school beats with the slightest hint of a modern update frame Castillano’s verses.
Because gives a sample of how he adroitly handles several hip hop variations. For “NAIA,” he lays down a heavy trap-cum-bass ‘n drums groove that vibrates (bonus points go to Allmo$t featured on this track). NexxFriday, his “Heartbreak SZN” cohort, helms and supplies the beats.
On the chill “Direk,” Because juxtaposes tight rap beats with some John Frusciante-styled rhythm guitars that result in pleasing amalgam of soul, neo R&B, rap and a bit of rock. Even the off-kilter and out of tune guitar solo has its charm. That’s the thing with Because, even when he’s winning with rap, he still goes beyond his roots without losing his soul.
But when he does old-school hip hop, standby—this guy devastates! On the banging “Raindance X With U” Because is biting and hilarious. And there are more of the straight up Jamestown banging on tracks like “Babyface,” “Flightmode” featuring Pricetagg, and “M.I.A.;” before bringing it home with the relaxed rhythms of “Rowena.”
Because is prolific. And despite the stylistic jumps within the album, he remains consistent.
He sums the music, thus: “Ayoko ng pahabain ang mga bagay. If it suits me, game na agad.”