Local hip hop getting attention
Alittle over 20 years since Bandung-based rapper Iwa K broke onto the music scene in Indonesia and brought hip hop to the masses, homegrown rappers are finally making a dent on the international music scene. In the past three months, a Jakarta-based young hip hop artist, known as Rich Chigga, has become an internet sensation and been christened a hip hop icon.
As if to prove his skeptics wrong, Rich managed to get an endorsement from one of the biggest names in hip-hop, Ghostface Killah, of the New York legendary hip hop collective Wu-Tang Clan. Ghostface, in fact, appeared on Rich’s new video for the official remix of viral sensation “Dat $tick,” which now has more than 20 million views.
Rich’s style has also won praise from big names in the game. Rapper Cam’ron said that that he is a great rapper.
“I see the comedic side of all this, but what he’s spitting is dope. His flow was tough,” Cam’ron said in his reaction video, which has now raked in close to 5 million views. Something is certainly going on if a reaction video to an original video got so many eyeballs.
Rich, whose real name is Brian Imanuel, is so phenomenal that magazine tracked him down and published a story based on the encounter titled, “Meet Brian Imanuel, Alias Rich Chigga, the 17-Year- Old Indonesian Rapper Who Hacked the World”. In the article,
Time praised Imanuel as having “preternatural grasp of the darkly ironic tenor of the humor of Twitter and Vine”. That ironic tenor certainly engulfs Rich’s original video in which he raps about killing pigs and driving a Maserati, wearing a polo shirt with a fanny pack strapped on his belly, swilling a bottle of rum and flanked by two friends wielding fake pistols.
Vice magazine attributed Rich’s success to “his ability in making an innovative and cutting parody of what culture has become to so many young people in America and across the globe”.
At the same time Rich Chigga was planning his internet domination from his bedroom, many of his fellow young hip hop acts had
prepared their own battle plan, as they mined the potential of social media and weaponized them, literally.
Rapper Young Lex rose to fame after releasing his single “Bad”, a generic hip-hop tune with his signature anemic rhyming, but featuring one of the country’s most talked-about Instagram celebrities, Awkarin, who delivers some lines on the tune. By putting Awkarin in the clip, Young Lex — real name Samuel Alexander Pieter — managed not only to draw the internet celebrity crowd but also scandalize regular music fans, who long questioned his hip hop credentials and suspected that he was only in it for the money.
“I want to build an empire like Jay-Z, I want to run a business like P. Diddy and want to have a strategy like Drake,” Young Lex said in a recent interview that shocked the country’s hip hop community.
TAKING THE RAP
Hip hopheads were shocked not because of his desire to be rich and famous, but by his statement that many considered an insult to the country’s hip hop pioneer, none other than Iwa K. For Young Lex, scandal is the name of the game.
“Sorry to say, Iwa K is considered a legend because he came first and not because of his skills,” Young Lex said, adding that he reserved his praise for another Bandung-based MC, Ucok Homicide, a towering figure in the local hip hop scene who is the de facto leader of the politically-conscious hip hop that has made the scene more interesting in the past decade. Following the disbandment of the legendary hip-hop collective Homicide, Ucok continues to keep alive the tradition of “oldschool” hip hop which leans toward American East Coast acts like Public Enemy, Run-D.M.C., Nas and A Tribe Called Quest.
In 2011, Ucok founded his record label Grimloc, whose tagline is “Bring the Noise Like It’s ‘88” as the home for hip hops acts who record politically- and socially-conscious songs, including Doyz, Eyefeelsix, and Domestik Doktrin. In 2014, Grimloc released
Perspektif (Perspective), a reissue of Doyz’ 2002 debut album, a work many consider to be the first socially-conscious rap record in the country.
“Doyz is a bridge between hardcore hip hop heads and fans of native tongue rap as well as mainstream rap,” Ucok said of the release.
If Ucok and his ilk are purists and radicals who wanted their music to change the world, other politically-minded hip hop practitioners on the scene are more preoccupied with more esoteric questions: does hip hop have a place on the local scene and if so, what can be done to indigenize the US-originated style of music. Yogyakarta-based MC Marzuki “Juki” Mohamad, also known as Kill The DJ, thinks that the latter path is a possibility. Marzuki has composed hip-hop music accentuated with gamelan and at times spits his rhymes in Javanese language. The effort paid off when he and his hip hop collective Jogja Hip Hop Foundation was invited by The New England Foundation and the US Department of State to do an East Coast-West Coast tour in 2012. Recently, he took a stab at mixing hip hop with dangdut traditional music by releasing a new album titled Kewer-Kewer, consisting of 10 songs which he cheekily refers as “post-dangdut electronica”. One song from the album made its way into the blockbuster film Ada Apa Dengan Cinta 2 (What’s Up with Cinta? 2) soundtracking a clubbing scene in the film. With so much diversity in the scene today, it’s easy to forget that local hip hop is barely two decades old.
Kill the DJ (right)
Young Lex Courtesy of Kapanlagi.com