The 5 torchbearers for the future of Malaysian Hip Hop
Enter: FORCEPARKBOIS, Hullera, DATO’ MAW, Chronicalz & MeerFly
The name Joe Flizzow has become synonymous with Malaysian Hip Hop for years. The 43-year-old is arguably the biggest rapper the country has ever seen. He is dubbed as ‘The President,’ and he is exactly what the term entails. Not only is he the head of Def Jam Recordings SEA, but he has also spent much of his time building bridges and paving paths for up-and-coming rappers to showcase their talent and skills.
One of those platforms is his very own rap cypher show, 16 Baris. Recorded in his barbershop, the series invites MCs from all over Asia to spit their truths in the form of 16 bars. It started out in 2017 with the likes of Yung Raja, MK, and Lil Asian Thiccie, who are all now household names respectively in their countries. Flizzow also had his Rap-centric travel show, Hip Hoppin’ Asia. He traveled to different countries within the continent, interviewing local rappers, and showcasing all that they have to offer.
It all had to start from somewhere. In 1998, a Hip Hop duo called Too Phat debuted in the Malaysian scene.
With it came none other than Flizzow and his partner, Malique, another influential name in the scene. Growing up, everyone had a Too Phat CD within arm’s reach. Their tracks were dominating radio waves, they were performing at all of the shows, and Too Phat was everywhere. Although Malique has seemingly taken a backseat in terms of releasing and being involved in music, you cannot downplay the vital role he had in Too Phat’s rise to stardom.
Flizzow, however, has continued to stay relevant in the rap scene and contribute to its healthy cultivation over the years with no signs of slowing down or stopping. In 2021, he appeared on Snoop Dogg’s album, Algorithm [Global Edition]. Earlier this year, the two rappers collaborated on a theme song called ‘Pioneers’ for the Malaysian football club, Johor Darul Ta'zim F.C. What better way to cement your position as the actual pioneer of Malaysian Hip Hop?
Modern Malaysian Hip Hop exists in a healthy space, and it’s all thanks to those who built it. Now is the time for the next generation to carry the torch.
The Johorean rap collective that is FORCEPARKBOIS is a force to be reckoned with. Their meteoric rise thanks to their hit single ‘LOTUS’ in 2021 was no fluke. That single was the talk of the town in most parts of the region when it dropped, with rap superstars from Singapore, Brunei, and even South Korea making remixes. Since then, the FORCEPARKBOIS have been ballin out. They signed with Warner Music Malaysia and have put out a string of amazing singles like ‘PSP’ on Asiatic.wav Vol. 2 and the football-themed ‘LUKAKU.’ The FORCEPARKBOIS might be a young bunch, but they’re killing it with their style.
FORCEPARKBOIS - ‘LUKAKU’ [featuring Quai]
Hullera first made waves in the mainstream when she was featured on episode seven of 16 Baris’ season two where she exercised her prowess as an MC. Even before that, she has always been exhibiting flyness through multiple freestyles on her Instagram, which of course, get tons of views. Hullera also has multiple collaborations with Singaporean Rap star Akeem Jahat, the latest of which, ‘Basikal,’ arrived in February and it showcases the two MCs going ham on a Drill beat alongside THELIONCITYBOY. You cannot box Hullera into a specific style or sound, though. Whether it’s an evocative sing-song, a boisterous offering, or a completely all-up-in-your-face type spitting, she is an MC that has it all.
Hullera, Fuego & DJ Ziqq ‘SHTICKY’
In a country where Malay is the official language, it’s natural that everyone speaks it and raps in it. But the rapper DATO’ MAW, who hails from Penang, completely mixes things up while taking it up a notch. He brands his distinct lyricism as ‘Cina Music’, which means Chinese in Malay. DATO’ MAW incorporates not only Mandarin but also dialects such as Cantonese and Hokkien, as well as Malay and English.
In Malaysia, Dato’ is an honorary title given by the King of Malaysia or the Sultan of a specific state for the individual’s contributions to the country or state. Although DATO’ MAW isn’t actually a Dato’, he quipped in an interview with Nigel Sparks that, “Dr. Dre isn’t actually a doctor.” Given what he’s done in paving the way for Chinese rappers in Malaysia, there is no doubt that he is, in fact, an actual Dato’ of the streets.
DATO' MAW ‘玩玩 MEH 你以為?’
ChronicalZ started rapping at the age of 15 and has been in and around the stages ever since his first single ‘Bata Got Hype’ went viral. Now, aged 22 and signed to Black Hat Cat Records, a division of Warner Music Malaysia – he holds the power of pushing the sound of his generation. The Malaysian MC isn’t afraid to embody his true self on his tracks, incorporating everyday language and slang into his ferocious bars. ChronicalZ isn’t trying to be someone he’s not, and he doesn’t try to emulate a sound that isn’t him. The reason he’s heavily supported by the youth is that they see a lot of themselves in him.
ChronicalZ ‘Susah Reply’
Hailing from Sabah, the 24-year-old MeerFly is as multi-hyphenate as it gets. Not only does he rap and sing, but he also produces and composes. MeerFly started from the depths of the underground scene and has been on an upwards trajectory since. In 2019, he made tidal waves when he released ‘Haa Tepok’ which featured Sabahan counterpart MK from the Hip Hop group K-Clique and Kidd Santhe.
MeerFly has cultivated his approach and sound through the years, and it’s something that’s become easily recognizable within the first seconds of each listen. Always hooded up, intrepid, and fiery – MeerFly is going nowhere but up.