The impact of words often leaves an indelible impression that can be felt long after they’ve been spoken. For Elmer Abapo, a Las Vegas singer, MC and producer, he not only understands this connection, he lives and breathes it.
Composed in his speech and calculated in his cadence, Abapo comes across as a poised young man. This is also reflected in his minimalistic, classy fashion sense and impeccable handwriting. His self-possession is a product of his upbringing, education and his own construct. But he wasn’t always so disciplined.
“I’ve been reading a lot of self-development books lately,” he says. “I’ve realized that I have to do things for myself.”
He documents this journey of self-discovery and self-determination on his forthcoming album, Good Intentions, and he thinks his message is powerful enough to pass on.
“I want to encourage people to believe in themselves, acknowledging the power of their words,” he says. “Words are not just words. They really come into fruition, they really mean something.”
Abapo embarked on his path to personal growth fairly recently, but his musical pursuits started long ago.
The Filipino-American artist has been surrounded by music from the start, partly because of his culture and partly because he was inherently drawn to it.
“It’s a common thing within Filipino culture to be a singer or musically talented in some way,” he says. When he was 7, his parents enrolled him in piano lessons. That’s where he learned the basic fundamentals of music, but it wasn’t until he fell in love with hip-hop as a teenager that he developed a desire to create his own. What started as just messing around with his friends turned into music production, aided by learning the computer program FL Studio.
On top of learning music, he had other obligations that helped shape his well-rounded outlook, including his education at UNLV, where he studied architecture.
“When I was young I used to draw a lot, and another thing in Asian culture in general is that you [have to] pick a good, stable, successful career. Architecture was the kind of thing that was ok with my parents,” he says.
While in school he began to understand the importance of learning, even if his passions pulled him elsewhere. “I matured and wised up, and realized the power of a dollar. I learned to take my education seriously,” he says.
He eventually joined the workforce, picking up a gig at an architecture firm while making music on the side. But bad luck would soon become a blessing. When he was laid off, he went all-in on music. “I felt like that was the universe telling me, ‘This is your opportunity to go do it,’” he says.
Now he’s doing it. On top of reading religiously, recording new music and setting his intentions, he gigs around the Valley to make ends meet. So far, it’s working, which may be in part because of his words.
Weaved with affirmations, Good Intentions reflects Abapo’s range as a musician while also showcasing his depth of character. From the airy sensuality of “Lights On” to the carefree spontaneity of “Like That,” each track takes on its own identity, both sonically and conceptually. “OMG” easily balances an aggressive message with Abapo’s well-timed flow and passionate singing while “Wasting No Time” evokes chills over layered, key-heavy production to close out the album.
With its February 20 release, the success of Good Intentions will serve as a test to see if Abapo’s words are working. In his mind, they already are.
“If you want to get where you want to get to, you need to set whatever that is, and really put it out there and really focus on it,” he says. “If you say something and you really mean it, your actions start mapping toward that.”
Feb. 25, 8 p.m., $12, Backstage Bar & Billiards, 601 Fremont St., elmerabapo.com