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The lingering legacy of Juan Thugs’ “Momay”

There are a number of notable songs from local artists about weed, like Eraserheads’ “Alapaap” and Franco’s “Song for the Suspect”, but none so memorable, so weirdly captivating, and none so deserving to be called the country’s national weed anthem as Juan Thugs’ “Momay.”

A rip off of Bone Thugs n’ Harmony in both sound and the artists’ name notwithstanding, “Momay” is melodic rap that’s easy to remember and easy to sing along to. Inozent One and Blingzy One echo each other with alternating low and high voices, rapping about the feeling of smoking weed. The word “Marijuana” is mentioned only after 4 minutes in; “Momay” being used all throughout. For all I know, this song popularized the use of “momay” to signify marijuana.

Other songs released subsequently have tried to replace “Momay” as the national stoner anthem (Malabon Thugs’ “Cindy Part 2” was too on the nose, Bugoy na Koykoy’s “420 AM” not as catchy), but “Momay” remains the most memorable. Other countries may rely on Snoop Dogg or Wiz Khalifa every April 20 (or every time a joint is lit), but we have Juan Thugs. “Momay” is our national weed anthem.

Other countries may rely on Snoop Dogg or Wiz Khalifa every April 20 (or every time a joint is lit), but we have Juan Thugs. “Momay” is our national weed anthem.

The catchy raps and the humorously dated, now in vogue album art aren’t the only things that make “Momay” memorable. It’s what it represented, which was not just weed as an object but as an activity shared with your friends. It’s about the cold wind on your face, your mind flying, and the underrated beauty of just passing the time. It’s about not stressing about things. Almost everything smoking weed is about.

For a track posted on Youtube almost a decade ago, using alternating low-res photos of Juan Thugs members Inozent One and Blingzy One, the song has aged well. It’s the song you played in the computer shop you went to after school hours back in the day; the song you catch yourself singing in the shower from time to time. It’s the song you play (off Soundcloud, since it’s not on Spotify) when you get the aux chord, hoping your car-fellows recognize the track. They do, and you have a good laugh about it. And it’s not just because it’s about weed. The song is also just really, really catchy.

While some might see “Momay” as some part of a codified language spoken only among fellow stoners, the song has become an auditory novelty that everyone can enjoy.  Today, “Momay” shines beyond its novelty because of its subject matter;  it takes away the stigma of soft drugs like weed in the mainstream. When all you’re talking about is getting cottonmouth and just shooting the shit, who can hate? When shabu and marijuana are criminalized altogether, creating a demonizing portrait of recreational weed smokers, we look up to pop culture to change perceptions. “Momay”, in its lingering legacy, stands opposite to these narrow views.

It’s a reassuring tune under a backward, ruthless administration that won’t think twice when it comes to killing drug users, especially those from low-income areas.

So put this song on blast with pride, and let people know how criminalizing a drug that, as per “Momay,” makes you hungry, thirsty, and happy is pure and utter bullshit. It’s a reassuring tune under a backward, ruthless administration that won’t think twice when it comes to killing drug users, especially those from low-income areas.

As for how influential or memorable it still is, the mere mention of a few words of its lyrics make you remember instantly. Kids of all ages know of this song. It’s like the 420 symbol turned into a catchy melodic rap tune. Try putting this on blast during a fiesta or nearby an inuman and someone is bound to sing along.

art by Bryan Sochayseng

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