It's hard to believe that it's already been 10 years since Francis Magalona passed away. One of the true pioneers of Pinoy rap, the Master Rapper helped pave the way for the next generation of hip-hop acts and his untimely death due to leukemia left a huge void in the local music scene.
Francis Michael Durango Magalona came from a bloodline of showbiz royalty, so it was the obvious choice for him to follow the same path. He started out as a breakdancer in the early 80s before landing acting gigs, catching his biggest break in 1984's Bagets 2. He appeared in more TV and film projects before fully embracing his true love for music and hip-hop as the next decade ushered in.
In 1990, Francis M released his debut record Yo! which received groundbreaking success, spawning hits like "Cold Summer Nights", "Gotta Let 'Cha Know" and the patriotic anthem "Mga Kababayan". It was the first commercially released Filipino rap album and ultimately solidified him as the country's King of Rap.
Aside from his solo music duties, Kiko had other side projects, most notably his band Hardware Syndrome which merged rock with his brand of hip-hop and it instantly clicked with listeners. He was also involved in several marquee collabs during the latter part of his career with Parokya ni Edgar, Gloc 9, and Ely Buendia.
The Man from Manila was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia in August 2008 and went on to battle the illness for 7 months. He died due to complications on March 6, 2009.
Kiko was loved and adored by his family and his contemporaries who considered him not only as their mentor, but as their friend.
His widow Pia recalled the moment they found out about his husband's illness. In a lengthy Instagram post, she wrote, "I remember distinctly that we were both lying in his hospital bed, watching the opening ceremony of the Olympics, when a doctor came by and asked to speak to me in the hallway." Adding, “She carefully broke the news, and my only reaction was ok… so what’s the method of treatment, and how long is he going to be confined?”
Pia went on to say that she was relieved and had a smile on her face knowing what caused her husband's constant fever and lightheadedness until the doctor revealed Kiko's real condition. "It's cancer. Oh... That was pretty bad news."
"Francis lived a total of 7 months more after that, and it was a whirlwind of confinements and discharges and treatments and test, after test, after test. Faith is really all we ever had, and still have for those he left behind," she added.
She ended the post by extending her gratitude to the people who have supported them all these years. "Our family will forever be grateful to family, friends, co-artists, companies and the Filipino people who supported us both financially and in spirit throughout the journey we called his Happy Battle, and even afterward. Through his recordings, his legacy lives on. Now, more than ever, say a prayer and listen to FrancisM.
There can only be one Master Rapper! Check out some of Francis M's MYX Live! performances here: