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!!
I was born in Lhokseumawe, Aceh, in 1983. I moved to Jakarta in 1991 and started rapping when I was 15 years old. Wether or not I’m considered an “Indo Rapper”, I will always rep Indonesia because all my successes began there. This song is really important to me because this is the result of all the sacrifices I’ve made over the years. Not just because it features a Hip Hop legend but also because of the honesty of the lyrics. As a descendant of a Swiss father and an Indonesian mother, for as long as I’ve lived, I have always been treated as an outsider and alienated. My Indonesian family think of me as Swiss. Similarly, my Swiss family consider me as an Indonesian. Wherever else I went, I was treated as an outsider because I wasn’t really from there. The successes of a “true person from this place” were always cheered louder and held in a higher place than mine. But, because I was raised with two cultures under one roof, in a country where the citizens were also a mix of various cultures and religions, I can see and understand the similarities within us all. That without these lines in the sand, these booklets full of stamps, currencies and material possesions dictating social heriarchy, we are all the same. We may have different cuisines but we all feel hungry. We may have different wedding ceremonies but we all love. We may have different holy practices but we all seek peace. Some may call it a ghetto, others favelas or slums or a trap or a home, a drive by or a stick up but we all know struggle and fear. Some jokes may only make sense in a specific language but we all laugh and smile. So what does ” home” mean? For me, “I am at home where the differences make us common”. This song represents that. People from different corners of the globe coming together to create music while expressing their similar experiences.
Hear me talk about this track on Anchor. Join and share your thoughts!
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I’ve written about “The Act of Killing” before and the documentary called, “The Globalisation Tapes“, that started the journey for the director to making that film. Joshua Oppenheimer’s next documentary is called “The Look Of Silence” which explores a victims brother confronting the killer. i have yet to watch it but this interview is a great night into the background which really makes me want to watch it.
It’s been a while since I’ve written anything. Seems like I go through these spells where I don’t post anything on my blog for a long time. But it is with good reason though. I’ve come to learn that you really can’t force anything to happen. Well you can, but I find that if you force things to happen then there is a bit of an unatural feeling behind it. No shit right? 32 years in this life and I figured that one out.
So as of late I’ve really been trying to make the most of my time. I literally work joyfully and play satisfied. I don’t say hard work because I don’t consider my work actual work. I want to make sure that I have fun doing it and that way the result will always be great. So between working, working out, Kudo training, playing PlayStation and spending time with loved ones, my time is almost always busy. Each one of those are just as important as the other. I think if I were to sacrifice time from one to do another it just puts everything out of balance and things start to go wrong.
The next half of this year is going to be a big change. Everything that I’ve been working for and dreaming of since I was a teenager has probably lead to this. It’s been tiring and time-consuming and annoying and I’ve lost more than just money and relationships, but its been full of amazing experiences and I don’t think it could’ve happened any other way.
Let’s start this next chapter shall we….
One of the most intense performances I’ve seen. What an amazing collaboration between the two which came from a spontaneous performance. “Senyawa” translates to “of one soul” and I think its a perfect name for this group