Don’t shoot the mes­sen­ger

Al­timet says his scathing sin­gle Am­boi is meant for one per­son – him­self.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Showbiz - By AN­GEL IN YEOH en­ter­tain­[email protected]­tar.com.my

AL­TIMET’S lat­est sin­gle Am­boi is gain­ing a lot of trac­tion on so­cial me­dia.

The song has Al­timet rap­ping fu­ri­ously about key­board war­riors, busy­bod­ies and those who try their darn­d­est to ap­pear well-todo. He also gives a ‘shout-out’ to the peo­ple you know at work who comes in late and clocks out early.

He gets se­ri­ous towards the end by point­ing out how greed con­sumes peo­ple. Then there’s the colour­ful mu­sic video done in pa­per cut-out style ala South Park. Re­leased in Nov 2016, a video clip for the song now has over one mil­lion views on YouTube.

Dur­ing an in­ter­view in Pe­tal­ing Jaya, Se­lan­gor, 39-year-old Al­timet said Am­boi came from “ob­serv­ing Malaysians on so­cial me­dia”.

“I’m not try­ing to crit­i­cise any­one. It’s just ob­ser­va­tions. That’s why I start the song with ‘come ev­ery­body, lis­ten to this story’,” he ex­plained.

One of the song’s most scathing lyric is: “Nak pang­gil waras susah, tak baik kalau gelar gila”, which roughly trans­lates to “can’t call some­one sane, yet it would be un­kind to call this per­son crazy”. The 39-year-old rap­per ex­plained his some­what sym­pa­thetic ap­proach for the song.

“A lot of peo­ple post things on so­cial me­dia and with­out con­text, we just as­sume they might be crazy. I feel like I can’t re­ally say that about some­one be­cause I don’t re­ally know what is hap­pen­ing.”

Ul­ti­mately, he can re­veal that Am­boi is meant for one per­son.

“It’s a re­minder to my­self. I’m re­ally just try­ing to ad­vice my­self. Of course, the song is a sin­gle now. It’s get­ting a lot of pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive en­gage­ment. That’s what we want any­way, any kind of re­sponse is good.”

Am­boi is the ti­tle track from Al­timet’s lat­est al­bum which also fea­tures the song Seru. Now that song is a more ag­gres­sive num­ber where Al­timet calls out to other rap­pers, ask­ing them to hit him back with some in­tel­li­gent rhymes. Al­timet said he’s still wait­ing to hear a re­spons se. But he’s not hold­ing his breath.

“No, they wo on’t do it. We are all a pas­sive ag­gres­sive bun nch,” he said, smil­ing wryly.

Al­timet wasn n’t al­ways this out­spo­ken. When he first start­eds lis­ten­ing to hip hop, he didn’t think of f be­com­ing a rap­per. That changed when n he met a few friends through the in­ter­net.

“We have a sshared in­ter­est. We used to freestyle all nig ght. I was a teenager and you got to find a pl lace to be­long. I found mine. At that time, to do o hip hop in Malaysia, you needed to have e a lot of self be­lief.”

The friends thatt he was talk­ing about were Mizz Nina, DJ FuzzF and Fi­que­tional. Even­tu­ally, the ey would go on to form the hip hop gro oup Teh Tarik Crew in 1999. They tookt the lo­cal mu­sic scene byy storm with the re­lease of debu ut al­bum How’s The Level in 20 002. Al­timet also re­membe ered hav­ing to keep his mu usic ca­reer a se­cret from hi is par­ents who wanted himh to have a reg­u­lar dayj ob.

“There was a time where a lot of f so­cial ills among youthss were blamed on loc cal hip hop cul­ture. S o Teh Tarik Crew wa as men­tioned as one of these neg­a­tive in­flue ences. So my dad wa s telling us at din­ner too not lis­ten to this Teh h Tarik Crew. My brot thers were look­ing ata me... laugh­ing,” he shared.s

When Teh Tar rik Crew dis­banded in 2007, Al­timet went solo. His par­ents were still not OK with his ca­reer choice and he un­der­stood why.

“I fig­ured they just want their child to work at some­thing that will give them a steady in­come. That was their con­cern. I have to make sure that it won’t be a con­cern for them any­more.”

Al­timet would go on to es­tab­lish a re­spectable ca­reer in the mu­sic scene. He kept him­self busy by con­stantly re­leas­ing a steady stream of hit songs such as Kalau Aku Kaya, Ko­tarayaku and Be­lan­tara Konkrit. He also achieved crit­i­cal suc­cess when he won the Anugerah In­dus­tri Muzik for Best Hip Hop song in De­cem­ber last year. His win­ning num­ber Janji with Taka­hara Suiko on vo­cals is a re­li­gious track in­spired by sto­ries about a prophet. So much for hip hop be­ing a so-called neg­a­tive in­flu­ence, huh? He was lost for words when asked about the AIM win. “You know, I’ve passed the stage where I felt the need for that recog­ni­tion. Back when I was in Teh Tarik Crew, of course I needed it. But over the years, I’ve learnt that sat­is­fac­tion doesn’t come from that.” Ul­ti­mately, Al­timet wants to keep do­ing what he does best and be bet­ter at it.

“All my tro­phies are at my mum’s house. I don’t keep any in my place be­cause I don’t want to look at it and be com­pla­cent. I would start to think that I’m good enough.”

— RAY­MOND OOI/The Star

When Al­timet first started out as a rap­per, he had to keep his ca­reer as a se­cret from his par­ents.

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