A lot of people ask me what the Hip Hop culture is like in Indonesia. It may not be what a lot of people would like it to be, but its massive and it definitely has it’s own character. I know a lot of people over there who live off the culture, to the point where the scene sustains itself. In a country of over 200 million though, it’s not a surprise.Hip hop somehow managed to trickle its way into Indonesia very quietly. At first it was incorporated very subtly into the pop music and then somehow an underground cult was born in the 80’s, much like punk music. My first memory of it was in a song by Denny Malik titled, “Jalan Jalan Sore” (Evening Stroll).
Out of no where a full movie came out based on Bboys called “Tari Kejang” (convulsion dance!! Wtf?! Hahaha).
By the time I was old enough to really start appreciating music and exploring it on my own in the early 90’s, Hip Hop movies had made its way into the country and Indonesia had birthed its own King and Queen of Rap. Iwa-K and Denada.
So besides the soundtrack tape cassettes from the American Movies that were being sold in stores, I now had local artists I could enjoy as well. Not long after a rap compilation came out called “Pesta Rap” (Rap Party) which solidified my love for the music and made me look deeper into the culture.
I started going to rap competitions to experience the culture live as it was the only way Rappers and Bboys could jam with proper soundsystems. It wasn’t long that I became friends with my local rap idols who educated me even more about the culture and inspired me to start writing on a pad and also on the wall (my affair with Graf was very short and I never really went ahead and perfected the craft). Soon event organisers and club promoters started popping up that made Hip Hop nights and we flooded them. I witnessed the birth of Indonesian Hip Hop. I was a part of it. I celebrated with it during its infancy and struggles. I began my musical journey on the mic at its early competitions. I stood my ground when the East and West scenes rivaled each other like they did in America. And now? Now it’s probably one of the biggest scenes and cultures in Asia.
Here’s a fun fact. A few of my friends sort of became the first commercially successful Rap Group in Indonesia and they invited all their friends to come to their first video shoot. See if you can spot me in this!!