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MRP Building, Mola Corner Pasong Tirad Streets, Brgy La Paz, Makati City

Girl in a jacket

Lady Diane, the Philippines’ rap royalty

“Presyo ng gasolina ay nakakainis, lagi na lang itinatago ang supply ng langis. No wonder everybody is going insane, lahat sila’y bine-blame si Mr. Hussein. Sa sa saddami ng problema natin, Sa sa saddami ng utang parin. Sa sa saddami ng kaguluhan. Sumasakit ang ulo ng mamamayan…” (The price of gasoline is annoying, the supply is always hoarded. No wonder everybody is going insane, everyone’s blaming Mr. Hussein. So much problems, so much debt, so much chaos, the nation is having a headache.)

Remember this song? If you do, then you must know Lady Diane, a 90s female rapper.

Dyan Villavicencio, or popularly known as “Lady Diane” (or simply Lady Dee) was tagged as the First Lady of Rap because when the genre was growing in the Philippines with Francis Magalona, Andrew E, and Michael V at the forefront, Lady Diane was the only female rapper to make her mark. She trail-blazed with her first rap album which includes songs like Cutie Pie, Gotta Show, Love at First Sight/Bakit ba Ganyan, Sirang Plaka, Mario sa Amerika, and Baduy na Baduy, to name a few. Her claim to fame, of course, was her hit song Sa-Sa-Saddam.

Such a bop, to be honest.

It can be said that as an artist, Lady Diane was aware of the things that were happening around us at the time. It was the Persian Gulf War, also touted as the Mother of all Battles, which happened between1990 until 1991 that led Lady Diane to write the song. Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein headed Iraqi troops and invaded its rich but militarily weak neighbor, Kuwait in a matter of hours. The United Nations Security Council ordered sanctions on Iraq and a US-led coalition began a massive air and ground war. As a result, oil and petroleum prices went into an all-time high hike, threatened energy supply, and the impact was felt globally, including the Philippines.

Prices of basic commodities, transportation, and other products and services increased and for Lady Diane, writing a rap song about what was happening was her creative way of venting out the Filipinos’ frustration with the predicament. The beat, the social relevance, and her being the only female rapper in the scene, was more than enough to catapult the song to number one. Soon, children started singing and dancing to it, jeepneys and boom boxes in fiestas everywhere blared with this instant hit, and even inspired some political jingles then, making Lady Diane a household name.

lady diane rapper
Via Lady Diane on FB

Years later, she left the entertainment industry, pursued a degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies at the San Sebastian College- Recoletos, both in Manila and Cavite, and in her Facebook account (where she now sports a short, almost pixie-cut hair), she also studied Masters of Business Adminstration at the Ateneo-Regis MBA Program, Ateneo School of Business. And while she still did collabs and freelance rapping (which is her first love), and accepted special Disc Jockeying stints for events, Lady Diane ventured into corporate Advertising, also worked as a tutor and English Instructor at AMATel and Computer Learning Centre, and also accepted special stints in running some restaurants.

Lady Diane today. Via FB

Lady Dee has been a mainstay in BPOs as she was the Former Assistant Marketing Manager of Gree Philippines, Inc., Customer Service Agent and Customer Service Representative at Sykes Asia, Inc., and her latest employment was at Sutherland Global Services in Clarkfield, Pampanga where she was Customer Service Phone Associate.

Lady Diane today. Via FB

Many years ago, Lady Dee was interviewed by Jessica Soho in her Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho where she came out publicly and on national TV that she is a lesbian, despite her womanly moniker.

In 2018, she also guested in Kyle Gianan’s YouTube channel called the KrazyKyle TV. Lady Dee, who was still sporting her signature one-side-bangs that covers only half her face, performed an original piece with Lady Zasta.

In that episode, Gianan—also known as KrazyKyle, the official Pinoy Picker—featured two of her special collections: cassette tapes of Lady Diane’s Sa-Sa-Saddam single and The First Lady of Rap album. Gianan said he got these vintage cassette tapes from the underground collectors’ group for P1,000 and P1,500 (for the sealed one, in mint condition), proving that these are highly collectible item that represents the Philippine rap history.

Love her or hate her, but there is no denying that the 90s kids remember Lady Dee and her Sa-Saddam, especially now that we are in the same complex catch-22 as Russia invaded Ukraine, and with petroleum prices and cost of goods, hiking up once again. We could only find some semblance of assurance in the lyrics of her hit song: “Kahit anong dilim ng ating kinabukasan, sabihin mo parin “Magandang gabi, bayan”. You know this crazy world is simply insane. Kaya’t tayo’y magsumikap
Start all over again.” (No matter how dark our future is, say “good night, country.” You know this world is simply insane, that’s why we need to work hard, start all over again.)

“Right now, I still write rap songs. I won’t stop. Sometimes it just randomly hits me, then I start writing. I finished four songs now, but it’s still raw and on demo tape. I’m expanding now though, I use guitar, drums, and piano to give my new songs a different vibe,” Lady Diane mentioned in the KrazyKyle TV interview, emphasizing that as the First Lady of Rap, she will never be a one-hit-wonder and will not fade away to obscurity. The price hikes are back, and we can only hope for Lady Diane to step out and rap again.

Go follow Dyan on Facebook.


Other POP! stories you might like:

For these Pinoy Pickers, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure

Revisiting the music of Vanna Vanna, the Philippines’ R&B girl band of the 90s

15 things you might be able to relate to if you watched these Pinoy TV shows in the early 2000s

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