|Origin||Los Angeles, California, US|
Native Guns was an American rap group that consisted of two Filipino American MC's and a Chinese American DJ from California. Based in both Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, the group consists of MCs Kiwi and Bambu, and DJ Phatrick. Their name is a play on the name of the Native Tongues Posse which rose to popularity by offering a musical style that was alternative to the Gangsta rap genre in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The group first collaborated in 2002 and recorded one full-length studio album and two mixtapes before their breakup in 2007.
Drawing from a diverse style of wide-musical influences, the Guns' sound is classified as ranging from hard-edged to reggae-influenced to outright boom bap. Primarily consisting of English, as is the standard for the majority of Filipino American hip hop groups, the duo's lyrics fuse Tagalog in their tracks as well. This method of interchanging English and Tagalog, known as Taglish, is used by both Filipinos and Filipino Americans to place emphasis on certain words or fragments of sentences.
In their lyrics, the group emphasizes social justice and pride in their heritage, as well as solidarity with other people of color. Their lyrics also address the Filipino people's struggles in both in the Philippines as well as in America. Both American President George W. Bush and Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo are often criticized in their songs for their treatment of working-class citizens.
Kiwi, also known as Kiwi Illafonte or Young Bonifacio, is a Los Angeles native now residing in the San Francisco Bay Area who has been an integral part of the California independent hip hop scene for years, having begun rapping in the late 1980s. His first full-length album, Writes of Passage: Portraits of a Son Rising (which is part of the syllabus in San Francisco State's Filipino-American Literature Class), was released in 2003. He went on to release The Summer Exposure Mixtape in June 2007. He was also the former host/producer of Apex Express on 94.1FM KPFA in Berkeley, California, and was featured as a Keynote Speaker at the 2007 Sandiwa Conference. Currently, Kiwi coordinates and co-facilitates the Hip Hop Workshop series for young folks at San Francisco's Filipino Community Center, and is working on his next solo album, The People's Pistol, due Spring 2008.
Bambu, also known as Buck Taylor, is originally from the Watts community of Los Angeles. In his early career, he was part of the Bamboo Brigade and Poorhouse Projekts collectives before releasing his debut album, Self Untitled..., in 2002, as well as The .38 Revolver Mixtape in 2005. He released his second album, ...I Scream Bars for the Children..., on the 15th anniversary of the Los Angeles Riots on April 29, 2007. The album cover features Bambu eating popsicles with two children while a Ku Klux Klan member hangs from a noose in the background. Bambu released his latest full-length album, "...exact change..." on September 11 and set out on The Exact Change Tour with DJ Phatrick, which featured supporting acts, Ise Lyfe, Do D.A.T, D. Black, Zion I, EyeASage, Emassin, Khingz, Nam, Son Of Ran, Kronic Plague, Kore Ionz and Power Struggle. In April 2009, Bambu and DJ/producer Fatgums released an EP collaboration entitled, Beatrock Presents: Fatgums X Bambu ...A Peaceful Riot.... The musical chemistry between Bambu and Fatgums has been likened to that of 9th Wonder and Murs. Bambu is currently recording an untitled project with Do D.A.T. of the Oakland based rap group, The Attik.
In May 2007, the group announced that they had "mutually decided to continue their careers as solo artists" and that they would be breaking up. Their final performance was on May 19, 2007 in Honolulu, Hawaii.. The group had a reunion concert at the 20th Annual Festival of Philippine Art & Culture in September 2011.  DJ Phatrick (born Patrick Huang) continues to tour with Bambu as on-stage DJ as he promotes his ...I Scream Bars for the Children... album. Kiwi is currently touring to promote his newest release, The Summer Exposure Mixtape a precursor for his second full-length studio album, which according to his MySpace page is set for release in November 2007 and is yet-to-be titled.
In a June 2006 interview with www.popandpolitics.com reporter Zoneil Maharaj, Native Guns explained more about how their personal backgrounds. Both Kiwi and Bambu are former gang members who have chosen to redirect their energies in a more positive direction. Bambu discloses that he was immersed so deeply into the gang lifestyle that he was jailed for armed robbery before he even graduated from high school. When asked, they refused to mention their former affiliations by name in order to refrain from promoting the gang lifestyle in any way. Bambu also cites reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X as another watershed moment in his life.
Currently, they are deeply involved in organizing work in the Filipino community. Kiwi is most known for his affiliation with BAYAN USA in the San Francisco Bay Area while Bambu is most known as the Secretary General of Kabataang Maka-Bayan, Pro-People Youth in the Los Angeles area. The interview has since been removed from www.popandpolitics.com but is transcribed on the group's MySpace blog.
In a video documentary entitled The Guns Show directed by Tadashi Nakamura, Bambu reveals that he first became conscious to political issues after being exposed to Filipino prostitutes while stationed in the military in Japan, although he would not specify which branch. The Guns Show was originally uploaded to the group's MySpace page and has since been relocated to YouTube.
- Stray Bullets Mixtape Vol. 1 (2004)
- Barrel Men (2006)
- Stray Bullets Mixtape Vol. 2 (2007)
- Writes of Passage: Portraits of a Son Rising (2003)
- The Summer Exposure Mixtape (2007)
- Self Untitled... (2002)
- The .38 Revolver Mixtape (2005)
- ...I Scream Bars for the Children... (2007)
- ...Exact Change... (2008)
- Beatrock Presents: Fatgums X Bambu ...A Peaceful Riot... (2009)
- ...Paper Cuts... (2010)
- DJ Muggs & Bambu - Los Angeles, Philippines (2010)
- ...Exact Change... Reloaded (2011)
- Prometheus Brown and Bambu Walk Into A Bar (2011)
- ...one rifle per family. (2012)
- The Lean Sessions EP (2013)
- Sun of a Gun Mixtape (2013)