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An Al James song is in a McDonald’s ad, and it’s freakin’ perfect


“Pahinga” is a bop, and if you haven’t heard of it yet you’re missing out. The song currently has a combined 5 million views on Youtube, but it’s still a relatively unknown song with many of my friends. It’s not the go-to song to play when you get the car aux cord in some circles. But when other people sing along to the sexy slow jam, it’s one of the many song equivalents to the invisible but important nods between friends that point towards sharing the same interests. When you know you just know, you know?

I can’t believe McDonald’s Philippines tapped Al James. I can’t believe they went to Al James, called him up, and asked him to to make a remix of “Pahinga” to fit their McFreeze and McFloat summer campaign. I can’t believe they had the idea to make “Pahinga ka muna,” into “Palamig ka muna,” then tap Ruru Madrid and Gabbi Garcia to be the faces of the campaign. I can’t believe the beat transitioned into the McDo “love ko ‘to” jingle.

It sounds ridiculous, because it is, because when was the last time you heard a hip hop song from a relatively unknown rapper in a McDonald’s campaign?

I can’t help but point this whole thing out for two reasons:

  1. It’s the perfect pairing. I swear I had this idea the moment the campaign revolved around the tag line “palamig ka muna”, tapping Al James to do a remix. I pitched this in a meeting. Apparently my idea wasn’t that original, probably because it was so easy once you knew: All they had to do was replace three syllables and bam, they’ve got a jingle. Just listen to the original:
  2. McDo’s move to tap a relatively underground hip hop artist is a cosign for local hip hop culture. When nationwide news conflates youth culture into images of  “hypebeasts” and Ex Battalion and big brand campaigns involved watered down commercialized music that’s approved by an old-fashioned client, having a rapper work for an international brand opens more avenues for both other artists to work with other big names. It’s as if the industry is finally catching up with what the kids are into.

Brownie points to both Al James, who probably earned a good paycheck, and to Leo Burnett Manila, who made this happen for McDonald’s. Somewhere, there’s an employee in that agency listening to the new wave of local rappers right now. You do you, guy.

Art by Chelsea Madamba



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