The Emergence Of The Jakartan Hip Hop Culture

By: Alvindra |

Hip Hop is arguably the leading driver in popular culture and Rap is arguably the most popular music genre today. “Rap is the new rock ‘n’ roll. We the new rock stars, and I’m the biggest of all of them. I’m the number 1 rock star on the planet.”, Kanye West said back in 2013, and the statement can’t be more true. As Rock as a genre stopped innovating, Rap became the experimental genre nobody thought it would turn into and as a result overtook Rock as the world’s premier genre. Not only in the US, the Rap and Hip Hop culture also thrives all over the world. And Indonesia is no different, especially Jakarta, where Hip Hop has embedded itself deep into the lifestyle of millennials and post millenials amidst the sleepless city. Many young, aspiring rappers emerge among various urban and suburban parts of Jakarta, particularly South Jakarta. South Jakartan rappers, DJs, producers, clubs and pubs, and event organizers has been the main vessel of the Hip Hop culture emergence in Jakarta.

Hip Hop actually has existed in Indonesia since the 90s. One of the first influential rappers in Indonesia is Iwa K. Influenced by musicians Farid Hardja and Benyamin Sueb and American Hip Hop, Iwa K introduced Hip Hop to Indonesia. Indonesian Hip Hop soon grew and so did its cult following. Rappers like Denada, NEO, and Saykoji carried Indonesian Hip Hop for decades. The resurrection of Hip Hop in the US during the early 10s attracted many teenagers in Jakarta. However, the first major Hip Hop breakthrough in Jakarta was when meme artist-turned-rapper Rich Brian released his debut single “Dat $tick”. The single gave Brian enough spotlight for him to start his global music career. As he went on with his career, many people started to give Hip Hop more attention, and in turns many Jakartan rappers saw an opportunity in it. A. Nayaka, a South Jakarta rapper who has been active in the scene since 2013, released his first album “Curriculum Vitae” on May 31, 2016. The album was chosen as one of the top 20 Indonesian Albums in 2016 by Rolling Stones Indonesia. Nayaka proceeded to dominate South Jakarta Hip Hop Scene while also releasing the EP “Colorblindflo” in 2017 and album “Cadence Blue” in 2018. Among those who have successfully capitalized on the Indonesian Hip Hop culture was producer Yosugi of CUL DE SAC Collective, also known for his Rap moniker BAP. He released his EP, “Friend’s, I Don’t Have Many of Those”, on December 15, 2016. Famous for his unique, experimental music along with rich musical influences, BAP. is another major player in the new wave of South Jakartan Hip Hop scene. He released his album “monkshood” last year. Other major player in the scene is Laze of Onar, a Hip Hop Collective. Laze is no stranger to the local Hip Hop scene. He has been in the scene for 11 years. On March 10, 2018, Laze released his second album, Waktu Bicara. The album is in Bahasa, and the theme of everyday struggles in the city we all love that almost everyone can relate to strengthens his already huge following.

The scene is stronger than ever. Local media is starting to give the Hip Hop scene the spotlight it deserves and people in turn have become more familiar with the acts in the scene. With so many quality artists in it, from A. Nayaka, BAP., Laze and Onar, PreachJa Record Head Honcho Saesar, Ramengvrl, Madt Cult, who just released their debut album, IV, August last year, Matter Mos, Hip Hop collective ENVY*, Gbrand, producer Boyboujee, to Kara Chenoa, Tuantigabelas, to Lil Kuzco, and Hip Hop platform and record label PreachJa at the helm, the Jakartan Hip Hop scene seems to be in good hands for it to keep improving, innovating, and thriving amidst the local music scene.

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