This week we take a look at an album from local hip hop icon Malique and we cover back our tracks by throwing back to the beginning of January, with romantic ballads and sappy tributes to loneliness.
1) TKO: Pejamkan Mata – Malique
Malique continues his knack for weaving profound insight into his rap verses and the references he makes (we still remember those bars from Assalamualaikum, “and if you got a problem with me being malay dude/ lets take it back to 1511 / ya, ya 1511 /jom bertikam lidah dengan hamba dalam aku”, 1511 being a reference to the Portuguese invasion of Malacca). Amongst the entire local rap industry, you have artists with crazy flow and beats, but no one has yet been able to beat Malique in his intellectual prose game. Probably the most well-read rapper in our scene, TKO: Pejamkan Mata is a testament to Malique’s subtle but distinct evolution. On one side, you have tracks like 2010 Masih Hip Hop – a nostalgic monument to the olden hip hop days of Too Phat, hence the really apt featuring of Joe Flizzow – and then on the other side you have pop hits like Senyum. A warm ode to the smile, it has a small part where he pays tribute to his daughter which would melt the hearts of anyone listening (“Oh Inca Medina orang secantik nama/Cantik luar cantik dalam cantik macam mama/Hati macam grandmanya anginnya macam papa”).
For most of his career, notwithstanding his hiatus, Malique was never NOT a mainstream sensation – serving hits after hits from Too Phat, to breaking out memorable tracks like Cerita Kedai Kopi with DJ Fuzz and Salam. Like his prior album, OK, where his songs would feature legends like M. Nasir, this album is star-studded with icons too. There’s Dayang Nurfaizah on Pejamkan Mata which starts off sounding like a classic Malay ballad and Jamal Abdilah crooning through Maafkan Kamu – a blitzkrieg diss track to ignorant haters (“Maafkan mereka, mereka tidak tahu/Mereka tidak ramas buku, mereka segan ilmu/Mereka tidak fasih malah fasik guna kata/Kita kongsi nama bangsa tapi tidak kasta bahasa”)
Although some of his tracks are more chart-friendly – where he still weaves hard-hitting poetry, of course, but with more focus on catchy hooks rather than bars (like Senyum) – TKO: Pejamkan Mata is not without its moments of scholastic brilliance. The highlight of the album is Perang Sudah Tamat – seeping into the psyche of listeners with marching percussion, aided by the eerie vocal talents of Rabbani and the ominous sounding voice clips of Tun Dr. Mahathir declaring that the “the world now lives in fear, we are afraid of everything”. This track is the number one reason why we love Malique, because no one else writes a song hypothesizing the end of war quite like him. Lines like “Piagam Madinah dihidup dan dijana/Semua agama Ibrahim aman hidup bersama/Perang cuma tinggal kata dalam kamus lama/Tak disebut/Tak diguna/Tak lagi dicari makna” and “Persamaan utamanya kita akal/Biar haiwan saja bersifat territorial” sticks in the mind for days.
Even in his slightly fun songs, Muzik Buatku High, there are patent signs of top-notch production and writing – carried through with mind-bending caklempong, and lyrics like “dari masa depan aku raksasa angkasa/tak percaya tanya NASA, haha/atau cari buktinya di perpustakaan akasha/gali lubang cacing, pintas ruang dan masa”.
Although it barely surpasses the quality of older albums (this may come from a position of bias since the memory of first listening to Assalamualaikum and Layu is still fresh in mind), TKO: Pejamkan Mata is still a work of art worth immersing yourself in.
2) Teratas – Oceanlights
Want a song to wipe your tears with after a seemingly mature break-up? Oceanlights has got just the song for you. This song is a heart-rending, tear-jerking ballad of longing, yet with the singer still wishing the best for his former lover. (“Bukan salah ku/Sayangi kamu/Kini ku tak terdaya/Melupakan semua tentang kita/Mungkin hadir ku /Membuatkan kau lelah /Moga bahagia bersamanya”). An ode to unrequited love, we’re surprised this song hasn’t made it big in the airwaves yet even though it’s been a month since they released it.
3) Hilang – Bittersweet
Since their underground indie punk days of Capital E, Bittersweet has come a long way. Their song Hilang is a quintessential self-reflection, a hymn of repentance and helplessness. As the verse rings true “Ingin ku jeritkan segalanya/Kehidupan yang membinasakan/Waktu yang masih belum terlewat/Untuk ku insafkan diri ini”,
you get an Oasis vibe but with a local twist. Fitting, since the music video is based in a desert landscape, echoing the message of desolation to the song. Bittersweet has evolved tremendously in their sound, and with lyrics waxing wonderful, romantic (and at times sad) poetry, they would slowly establish themselves as a great music ensemble.
Agree with our list? Have any more recommendations? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or hit us up on Facebook at The Daily Seni or Twitter at @thedailyseni.