DESPITE all the bad rep afforded to this latest generation of young adults, it’s vital we take a look at a few Malaysians currently looking for more than just validation on social media.
Young people, they say, young people need to wake up and face reality. Are you tired of hearing this from your elders? But how young is young? We’re going to go with Time Magazine‘s estimation of a millennial’s age range, and say those born between 1980 and 2000.
Here are five young adults who continue to pave their own reality, all of them under the age of 25. Next time someone tries to criticise the millennial generation, namedrop any of these folks and thank us later.
N3mo, 22, hip-hop entrepeneur
Kuala Lumpur rapper N3mo (Nicholas Siau) is keen to have his voice heard, now more so than ever — at the young, pivotal age of 22 he’s just released his first single.
“Shokunin” is out now on Akhyla Records, a label he co-founded with longtime friend and trusted collaborator VMPRMYTH (Mustaqim Arifin). This picture from Pestle & Mortar pretty much captures N3mo and VMPRMYTH’s unique dynamic.
His first LP, simply-titled NRETBTSNPEFASS (Not Rich Enough to Buy the Scene, Not Poor Enough for a Sob Story), will be out soon. It’s an exploration of young life in contemporary times, and Nemo does not downplay his privileges nor his roots on the record. He in fact raps in Malay on two cuts — “PPA” and “Bootleg Greentea” — and does so with conviction.
Laidback, candid, approving of multilingual rap in songs and even local use of the word “nigger” (“there should be no word in the world that’s exclusive to any group of people from any particular background”), N3mo is a different sort of rap artist, and one who is more in tune with the trends, changes and whims of his own generation.
He may be a youngster who has a lot to say and you might not necessarily follow what he’s saying, but trust us, he might just be worth listening to.
Jes Ebrahim, 23, conscientious musician
After a head injury which resulted in a concussion last year, Jes Ebrahim still has trouble smelling or tasting. But he remains all smiles, and is one of the most humble individuals you could stumble across in the scene today.
Jes studied music at Akademi Seni Budaya Dan Warisan Kebangsaan (ASWARA) and has since been freelancing around town — past stints include supervising Bangsar’s L45 library.
As frontman of Malaysian folk/rock band Monsoon Market, Jes writes and sings on the band’s cuts but also has his own solo projects running about around town. One of these is Wayang Di Bayang — a series of band performances set in darkness and shadow — which debuted at BINTANG X BULAN earlier in April.
Most recently however, Jes has found a new home in PUSAKA, where he has been helping out on audio documentation. Working closely with elements of his heritage and culture, Jes finds the simplest ways to connect local audiences with their roots.
Sarah Amer, 24, community organiser
While the active young voices you often see in the media are males — siapa tak kenal Fahmi Reza or Syed Saddiq for example — there has been a stream of positive action from young females around the nation too. But none have shown the plain drive that Sarah Amer possesses.
An outspoken young woman with a passion for the community, it was only last year she organised a programme comprising workshops, discussions, performances and activities called Kota Wanita in conjunction with International Women’s Day. Soon after, she built momentum and initiated a series of panel discussions called Bukan Sekadar Bicara and eventually found herself on our pages and in Time Out Kuala Lumpur too!
Currently working under renowned architect Nani Kahar‘s Lab DNA, Sarah is as busy as they come. Her tasks revolve around placemaking — the creation of public spaces which contribute optimally to the local community — and involves organising activities on top of research and heavy-duty networking.
Sarah also knows what’s going in the furthest regions of Malaysia, and she’s the sort you’ll want to brainstorm with if you ever need solutions to anything community-related. Away from the public eye, she collects vintage records and is constantly learning how to DJ.
Thenesh Skip, 24, very shy comedian
Our favourite former publicist at PJ Live Arts describes himself as “Chae Lian‘s bitch” according to The Daily Seni‘s new intern, but since leaving he’s gone on to bigger and better things. He now shares the stage with quality stand-ups and even gets the opportunity to tour the nation!
In fact, did you know Thenesh visited all the major cities across East and West Malaysia (termasuk Labuan) to perform alongside acts like Prakash Daniel, Keren Bala Devan, Kavin Jayaram and Andrew Netto through The Angry Indian Show: Machas Rock The Mic?
However, Thenesh deems each stage appearance his “biggest achievement” as he generally dislikes human interaction and suffers from stage fright. But with the microphone in his hand, he’s a whole different beast, performing his own original material with flair and an almost tangible electricity.
Thenesh is now a social media specialist, but he is also working on his comedy sketch channel District Lumper which is on hold until he finds enough time to come up with new stuff!
Hannan Azlan, 21, triple threat
If you haven’t seen this one live yet, best make your way to an open mic night soon or you’re going to be paying big bucks to catch Hannan’s brand of irreverent Malaysian comedy. From ustazahs to getting spanked, this young lady holds back absolutely nothing under the spotlight.
A relatively new but memorable presence at established venues such as the Crackhouse Comedy Club and PJ Live Arts, Hannan is currently best known for her stand-up comedy. Her star continues to rise in the field, and she will next be hitting Hong Kong’s Take Out Comedy in July, for her first performance outside of Southeast Asia (consider that she’s only been doing stand-up for somewhere over eight months).
In essence however, she’s a writer who also produces and performs her own material. Her track, “I’m Frightened By a Lot of Things But That Shouldn’t Stop Me From Trying, Right?” was a proud winner at Short + Sweet Festival in 2015, bagging her Second Runner-Up as well as the Audience Choice Award.
Hannan is also an actor and a dancer. She’s best described as a talented free spirit — bold, brave, energetic and insane, but sensitive and warm. This one’s set to go quite far, but catch her at Merdekarya next month when she debuts a one-hour set consisting of comedy and original songs with her music collective, we don’t know yet. And make sure to check her official website for more updates!
Got any suggestions we should be checking out? Make sure to drop them in the comments below!