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Break The Cycle repped Singapore’s underground Hip Hop scene

A collab between Allure Records & Leftmind International celebrated Miikothe13th

LiFTED | Sabiq Rafid/Photos by visualzbydre | 3 Mei 2023

On April 29, the last Saturday of the month, a group of eager Singaporean Hip Hop fans gathered in Parklane Mall. On the fifth floor of the shoddy and dingy shopping center that employs KTVs and eateries sits an unnoticeable, small-scale venue, Phil’s Studio.

The people congregated there for a show spawned out of a collaborative effort between the folks of Allure Records and Leftmind International called Break The Cycle. More than that, the people rallied together to witness Singapore’s often-overlooked underground in all its glory, alongside the celebration of the life and career of one specific MC, Miikothe13th.

Both established and emerging MCs were on the show’s bill that night – Def Jam’s Abangsapau, seasoned vets Sharbil and Miikothe13th, Bazeel x Faiz Shamir, a young upstart in ahmadjohnson69, alongside two vigorous rap crews, Reckle$$ [which Miiko is part of], and 6OON5QUAD [pronounced Goon Squad]. Despite all of their different statures and how they got into MCing, there's one thing that they all share in common - Miiko influenced all of their careers one way or another.

Abangsapau was given the night’s opening honors, and he spared no expense in riling up the crowd. The baton was then passed onto Sharbil, who absolutely rocked the crowd with his punchy flows and energetic tracks. Although Sharbil has been in and around the Hip Hop scene in Singapore for a couple of years now, he hasn’t spent much of his time performing live. That all changed in the past year, and Sharbil has started to grace stages a lot more. Looking back on the change, he said, “[Performing] has been really refreshing, and it’s been helping me battle the demons in my head. I’m putting myself out there to let people accept however I am.”

Sharbil continued, “I never wanted to be part of any scene, I just wanted to do my own shit and stay the fuck away. But then I realized, it’s enjoyable to be around everybody. The crazy thing is that everyone is going through their own sh*t and no one in the crowd knows about it. But they put everything aside and just become rockstars for a night.”

That is not something an average crowd-goer would think of. Bazeel, who delivered a spirited performance alongside his producer, Faiz Shamir, has also been going through his fair share of personal struggles. “When I go up on stage, I leave everything on the floor. Last September, my mother, who’s the breadwinner of the family, got hit with a stroke. So now, I’m working and sacrificing all of my time for the family. Because of that, I don’t really have the outlet to express or release myself.” This made Break the Cycle that much more special for Bazeel.

Bazeel and Faiz share a bond that goes beyond music, and you can feel their chemistry from their stage show. Faiz riles the crowd up for Bazeel, spits his bars for him, and they feed off each other’s energy.

Faiz echoes this, “Bazeel opened up my eyes to appreciating the small things, even off stage. All I wanna do is to let him speak his truth, to put all of the spotlight on him. He sees the vision, and I want to push through this journey with him, no matter what comes our way.”

Towards the end of their set, the duo made space for Reckle$$ to come up to the stage, where they performed their anthemic single together, ‘Mati Itu Pasti.’ The hook of the track goes, “Mati itu pasti/Party sampai pagi,” which literally translates to “Death is certain/[so let’s] party till the morning,” setting the pace of what’s to come for the rest of the night. The energy was at an all-time high here, and who else but Reckle$$ and 6OON5QUAD to steer it all home?

San The Wordsmith from 6OON5SQUAD kicked off the closing stages of Break The Cycle with a thumping Drill heater, boiling up an already steaming hot venue. The two collectives went on an all-out lyrical carnage, amping up the energy track after track. Eventually, the spotlight turned to the man of the hour, Miiko. He performed tracks from his previously released albums as well as unreleased cuts.

Standing away from the crowd, you could see him visibly choking up between his rhymes as he takes in the fact that everyone was there to see him and to perform with him. Backed by the entire show’s lineup at this point, one could see the Singaporean underground’s family spirit manifesting in front of their very eyes.

Syafiq from Reckle$$ perfectly describes the family aura radiating from it, “We’re the type of people who want to see each other succeed. I think it’s important to show love to everyone, no matter how big or small of an artist they are. For us, it’s family vibes. Not only do we make music and hang around, we know each other on a personal and deep level. It’s all love.”

Abangsapau doubles down on that, vehemently declaring his thoughts on the underground movement, “To me, doing it with this family spirit is how we should be moving. We’re that small, Singapore is THAT small. We say that all the time, but I don’t think we really understand the weight behind that.”

“We need to remember exactly why we’re doing this. People asked me leading up to Break The Cycle, ‘Since you’re on a major label, why are you playing this show?’ But they don’t understand that this is where it all starts, this is where it all comes from. My passion came from underground gigs like these, and it means the world to me.”

Speaking to Miiko post-show, who was clearly still in disbelief, he shared that he didn’t expect anyone to pull up for him. “When I asked around in-between sets, who did you come to see? They all said me!”

And it’s no wonder. For all that he’s done for the scene and the people in and around it, it feels like an instinctive reaction for everybody to give him his flowers. The veteran MC will be going on a hiatus for an indefinite amount of time, but we know that he’ll be back stronger [as he says himself], along with so much more new material to share. And whenever that might be, one thing’s for certain - the entire family would be waiting for him with open arms.

Not only was it a celebration for all that Miiko has been and will be, the night was also a testament to the dedication of Singapore’s underground MCs and the support they have from its people. How the two entities are constantly pushing boundaries, getting themselves out there, speaking their truths, and releasing all that is inside while keeping it completely tight and close-knitted. Just like the name of the night’s showcase suggests, these MCs are the ones who are out to Break The Cycle.