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The LiFTED 5: Finding beauty in the unknown with Zamaera

Malaysia’s Rap Queen steps out of her comfort bubble on the UKG-influenced ‘Big Fish’

LiFTED | Marcus Aurelius | 5 Mar 2024

Zamaera was born to be on stage. From storytelling as a youngster in school to being part of a turning point in Malaysian Hip Hop with Joe Flizzow, she’s also hosting YO! MTV Raps Asia and started the Queendom music festival. Now, Zamaera is ready to hop out of her small pond and become a ‘Big Fish,’ which is also the title of her latest UKG-tinged song with Daaliah. LiFTED caught up with Malaysia’s Rap Queen for five questions about Hip Hop, manifesting a collab with Awich, and what the future holds for someone looking to get out of their comfort bubble.

When did you first get into Hip Hop? What was it about the music and the genre that attracted you to it?

When Joe Flizzow signed me to Kartel Records back in 2012, I wouldn’t say that I had an extensive knowledge of Hip Hop music, but I must say my attraction and conscious curiosity towards the genre came extremely fluidly. In my public primary school education, both in Brunei and Malaysia, I had taken part in competitive storytelling therefore the concept of getting up on stage in front of a crowd, playing different characters, and having a mic with a story to tell was a huge part of my life.

In storytelling, you would memorize a short tale that was already published but as I grew older, I felt strongly towards writing and sharing my own narrative. Music also came into the picture at a very young age so I think when I was in my teens, I felt compelled to combine those two, and it was a case of the right place at the right time. And the first guy I ever fell in love with introduced me to 2pac. I was 17, listening to All Eyez On Me, and thought, how can this goofy little Southeast Asian girl resonate so much with the words of a strong black American male figure? I loved what Hip Hop represented. It was the reflection of the current environment in society. it was so truthful, filled with the intensity of pain, struggle, tenacity, and triumph.

Tell LiFTED about how Joe Flizzow and ‘Aku Tak Kenalmu’ influenced you as a person and for your career?

Abang Joe my brother! Abang means brother in Malay and that is a clear depiction of who it is to me. I was really young when I was under Kartel so I never really got a chance to sit one-on-one with him and talk about my feelings and passions, etc. I did that with Sona. I was the closest to him throughout my years with the label. ‘Aku Tak Kenalmu’ was my first feature with Joe on his Havoc album which completely changed the game for hip hop in Malaysia. It was exciting to be a part of a cultural phenomenon and I think my storytelling solidified even more after listening to his verse. I think what it did was, it allowed the realm of Hip Hop in Malaysia to be acquainted to me. And I only sang at that time, so most people who knew me back then, knew that I started my career as a singer first before delving into Rap.

LiFTED covered the Queendom Fest when it happened. What did you learn from the festival? Will it be happening again soon?

It was my first-ever event as an organizer and I must give credit to all the EOs out there. It wasn’t easy whatsoever especially due to the short timeline we had upon announcing the festival and of course, there were so many people and their expectations to manage.

Truth be told, I’m going to take a more Camp Flog Gnaw-type approach. I’m building a team to run the next Queendom Fest without me having to physically be present. I think it’s important to get your people accustomed to you as a person and also your work ethic and vision of course. It’s hard to do that if you keep switching teams every year. I definitely feel that I’ve only just scratched the surface with the first Queendom Fest and I have so much more clarity now on how I visualize the future of this platform.

Right now, we are in the midst of a Golden Era for female MCs leading the way. Who are the ladies that you love to see spitting on the mic? Are there any female MCs in Asia you would like to collab with?

Honestly, I would love to collaborate with Awich. I was introduced to her music about six years ago when she released WHORU with Anarchy and I really loved her laid-back yet very commanding flows. I’ve never collaborated with a Japanese artist before so it would be an exciting session. I’m going to Japan in April of this year so let this be part of my manifestation.

Tell readers of LiFTED about the single with Daaliah ‘Big Fish.’ What does the future hold for Zamaera?

You know that yearning feeling, when you’ve stayed somewhere for so long and you wonder what stepping out into the unknown would look like? I mean that’s exactly how I feel in 'Big Fish.' I'm just in this tiny aquarium, swimming within four glass walls and looking wide-eyed into the outside world. I hear a voice that grows louder and louder by the day which tells me to jump out of the window and splash into the great deep blue ocean. Like that scene in Finding Nemo when all the fishes jump out in plastic bags and roll into the sea. I know I’m meant for bigger things and a better future for my career. I just can’t stay complacent in the same place where I grew up. I’m sick of walking down the same street, trying to follow the rules of a society that would never accept me for who I truly am. I just want to grow and therefore I must choose an environment large enough to thrive.

‘Big Fish’ is all about stepping out of your comfort bubble and chasing after what you want, despite the odds and what everyone says and thinks about what you should do. The beauty of life is found within the unknown and I feel that this has been one of the most exciting adventures I’ve embarked on. It’s my first ever UKG track and I would say my sound is shifting to include more of my interest in Electronic, Techno, and Bass music. This is my final release in Malaysia so people will see me from far across the pond and should anticipate my first-ever studio album and world tour soon!