Easy A, An Interview With Ariel Nayaka

Tanpa perlu menjual kontroversi kacangan dan komentar-komentar miring, rapper muda Ariel Nayaka menunjukkan kelasnya sendiri sebagai bintang baru layak simak di skena Hip-Hop lokal just like a Straight-A student.

Setelah seakan mati suri sekian lama dari radar mainstream, dengan semakin banyaknya nama rapper dan beatmaker lokal yang naik ke permukaan, releasing their tapes, doing gigs here and there, dan crowd yang semakin apresiatif, I think it’s safe to say our local Hip Hop scene is on the rise again and Ariel Nayaka is proud to be part of it. Menghabiskan masa pubernya di Houston, Texas, cowok 22 tahun ini mengaku sudah terekspos pada kultur Hip Hop sejak dini, namun album 50 Cent lah yang menjadi awal dari segalanya. “Basically gue lagi road trip sama keluarga dan stuck di mobil selama 12 jam lebih. Sepanjang perjalanan, hiburan gue cuma album 50 Cent yang Get Rich or Die Tryin’. That was also the first time I ever listened to Gangsta Rap and I was hooked on it immediately. Album itu yang membuka pintu buat gue untuk eskplor Hip Hop, tapi album yang benar-benar mendorong gue untuk mulai nulis lirik adalah album Eminem yang The Eminem Show,” ceritanya.

Sempat main di genre metal dan post-hardcore emo, minatnya pada Hip Hop bangkit lagi saat ia kembali ke Jakarta. Secara otodidak dari video YouTube, ia mulai mempelajari proses rekaman dan menulis lirik sendiri di atas free beats yang ia dapat di internet lalu mengunggahnya ke SoundCloud. After some singles, videos, and one mixtape, tahun ini dengan bangga Nayaka mempersembahkan mixtape anyar berjudul Curriculum Vitae. Seperti yang disugestikan oleh judulnya, album berisi 12 track ini adalah rangkuman dari skill yang dimilikinya. Berkolaborasi dengan beberapa rapper dan beatmaker sebayanya seperti Ben Utomo, Scamy, dan Greybox, Nayaka menunjukkan bermacam warna Hip Hop dan tema lirik, mulai dari old school, new school, R&B, hingga trap, yang semuanya dikemas dengan lafal Inggris yang fasih, wordplay yang asik, dan produksi yang rapi.

To complete this exciting year, single terbarunya bersama produser Emir Hermono yang bertajuk “3Am In Jakarta” dengan video yang ia rekam sendiri menjadi topik viral, menarik respons positif, dan mengantarkan namanya ke pendengar yang lebih luas tak hanya di Indonesia tapi juga di Malaysia dengan tampil di Good Vibes Festival, di Kuala Lumpur beberapa bulan lalu. Not stopping for rest and relax, he’s already got so much more to show and we can’t wait for it.

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So, what are the musical influences for you?

 

Kalau musik secara general, gue akan sebut Michael Jackson. Gue ingat nonton live performance dia bawain “Smooth Criminal” when I was 3, straight up from Laser Discs. Tapi kalau Hip Hop, pasti berubah setiap minggu, haha. Usually I’ll listen to the “new age hip hop” era in the States seperti Lil Yachty, Lil Uzi Vert, Playboi Carti. But then again there are also those moments where I feel like I need me some Bryson Tiller, Partynextdoor, Drake vibes as well. And those melodic sappy ones have been influencing me HEAVY lately.

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Tell me about Curriculum Vitae, apa konsep utama dari album ini?

 

Jadi Curriculum Vitae ini dibuat dengan konsep “This is my CV into the music industry”, that’s why I’ve got a couple different type of “Hip Hop Styles” in one body of work to show my diversity and overall sounds that I am capable of. Lagu pertama yang gue bikin yang eventually masuk ke album direkam sekitar April 2015.

Waktu itu gue sebetulnya belum berencana rilis mixtape/album karena di Januari 2015 gue baru ngerilis mixtape yang judulnya To Each His Own. Tapi pas summer 2015, gue ke Jerman selama setengah tahun dan gue bawa recording equipment gue ke sana. I travelled around Europe with my friends, and along the way I took in influences from my surroundings and applied them to my music.

Sekitar 70% rekaman vokal di album ini gue kerjain di Eropa. And as for the album cover, it was a picture of a piece of the Berlin Wall in the East Side Gallery that simply said “Curriculum Vitae”. Itu foto gue literally snapped with my iPhone, sent it to my sister to edit a little, and BOOM! That’s the album cover, haha.

Gimana biasanya proses songwriting berlangsung buat lo dari awal sampai jadi?

I always get confused everytime anyone asks me this question, because its always different every single time. Sometimes someone would send me a beat and I’ll just write lyrics to that beat and I’ll record. But some other times I could just be anywhere and I’d get ideas and I would write them down in my Notes app on my phone. Just rhymes and/or random topics. You’d be surprised to see how much idea I have just laying there on my Notes app lol. Then when I do have the time, I would try to use those ideas and mash it together with an instrumental that flows well with the lyrics. To me, the process of songwriting cannot be stuck in just one method of formula. You have to constantly experiment with new sounds/topics. Getting out of your comfort zone is very important, because at the end of the day YOU HAVE to sound different than your peers.

Apa opini lo soal skena Hip-Hop lokal saat ini?

 

The Hip Hop scene in Indonesia is GROWING FASTER AND FASTER! The culture is moving really fast and I see it growing faster than it did with EDM back around 2010-ish. Banyak banget rapper baru yang muncul setiap bulannya and that’s awesome! Sekarang juga ada beberapa Hip Hop events di Jakarta di mana lo bisa ngeliat producer, rapper, DJ hanging out in one place as friends and vibing with one another. Cul De Sac is a collective of very talented young producers and DJs who make events as well. You can probably say that these guys are the ones that are running the underground Hip Hop scene in these weekly parties.

 

What’s the career highlight so far? Yang gue tau tahun ini lo ikut perform di Good Vibes Malaysia, how was it?

 

YES actually so far, performing in Good Vibes alongside Emir Hermono was a really crazy experience. Gue bikin lagu “3AM In Jakarta” bareng dia beberapa bulan lalu dan ternyata lagu ini lumayan booming di Kuala Lumpur, to the point that it actually got radio airplay. Lucunya, pas kita bawain lagu itu di Good Vibes, there were actually people singing and rapping along to the EXACT lyrics. Itu momen yang gila buat gue karena kalau dipikir, gue nulis lirik lagu itu di rumah gue di Jakarta, tapi gue bawainnya di negara lain dan orang-orang nyanyiin liriknya. That feeling right there is what I’ll always crave and that’s the reason that I make music now.

 

Selain musik, apa aja kegiatan sehari-hari lo?

MASIH KULIAH MAN! I mean it’s my last semester but I need to get this out the way first so I can focus on this music 100%. On a daily basis I usually just wake up, go to the gym, go back home and usually the homies would want to hang at my place. My place is where I do all of my recordings and usually we would all just hang out eventually come up with ideas for music.

What’s your dream collaboration?

 

Yo! If could choose anyone, I would want to have a song with Travis Scott on the hook, me doing 2 verses, Drake doing the last verse, and the overall production by Kanye West and Metro Boomin. Terus have DJ Khaled promote it HAHAHA! If I could get that done, I would die happily LOL.

Apa rencana selanjutnya?

Sekarang gue lagi ngerjain beberapa tracks bareng beberapa producers. Bantuin Emir Hermono di album barunya. I’m doing a joint EP with some very talented producers that I can’t tell u about right now and overall I’m just dropping music here and there. Just keep up on my social media accounts cause every announcement I make will go through there.

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Foto oleh: Willie William.

https://soundcloud.com/ariel-nayaka

IG: @ArielNayaka

Twitter: @ArielNayaka

YouTube: youtube.com.arielnayaka

Snapchat: arielnayaka

 

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Mixtape: Rich Chigga

Jauh sebelum Brian Imanuel dikenal dengan nama Rich Chigga, ia sudah lama berada dalam following list saya di Twitter karena meme dan video-video kocak yang ia buat dengan nama @HeelyRiddler. Belakangan, selain jokes seputar konspirasi 9/11, self-deprecating selfies, dan video tutorial, adik dari fashion blogger terkenal Sonia Eryka ini pun menunjukkan kemampuannya nge-rap dengan memakai nama alias Rich Chigga. Mendapat respons positif setelah merilis video “Living The Dream” yang memakai beat dari DJ Smokey, nama Rich Chigga menjadi topik panas sebulan terakhir ini berkat video terbarunya, “Dat $tick”.

Knowing his antic, awalnya saya mengira jika lagu dan video ini hanya akan menjadi semacam parodi lucu-lucuan belaka, terutama kalau kita hanya melihat cuplikan screenshot yang menampilkan Brian dengan kaus Polo warna pink, celana pendek khaki, dan tas pinggang mengacungkan pistol dan botol minuman keras sambil ditemani oleh squad-nya. But then, ketika instrumental beat super catchy garapan produser bernama Ananta Vinnie terdengar dan Brian memperlihatkan rapping skill-nya, damn, it’s spitting fire. Hasilnya, selama menonton self-directed video berdurasi dua menit ini, saya tak berhenti bertanya-tanya “Is this real? Or is this a joke?” I mean, saya sadar jika ia dengan satir memparodikan diri sendiri dengan nama Rich Chigga (Chinese n***a, duh!) dan stereotipe video musik gangster hip hop, but at the same time, it’s a legit trap record with killer beats yang akan membuatmu menganggukkan kepala tanpa henti. “It was semi-serious,” cetusnya, “I was actually gonna wear a normal clothing that other rappers would wear like Post Malone or A$AP Rocky, but I had a last minute concept change with the pink polo and the fanny pack because I didn’t wanna be seen as a scrawny Asian kid trying to be hard, kinda like Slim Jesus,” tandas homeschooler berumur 16 tahun ini.

Yang jelas, “Dat $tick” menjadi viral dengan cepat, menghasilkan interview  dan feature di Hypetrak, ditonton lebih dari sejuta kali, di-share oleh Snoop Dogg, dan bahkan dimainkan di Drake Night, Los Angeles. “That song was the product of me listening to A$AP Rocky for a week straight, I’ve known Vinnie for quite a while now and he wanted to collaborate with me on a song but we didn’t know what at the time, so I just started writing down lyrics and told him to make me a beat. I expected it to hit like 300k but nothing this crazy. It was really cool seeing about 800-1000 people listening to my song,” ungkap penggemar A$AP Rocky, $UICIDEBOY$, dan Lil Uzi Vert tersebut soal respons yang ia dapat. Wanna know more about him? Check out these tidbits plus mixtape dari lagu-lagu favoritnya belakangan ini. Oleh: Alexander Kusuma Praja. Foto oleh: Roy Leonard.

“I actually regret naming myself ‘Rich Chigga’, I was debating on whether or not I should change it when I posted the ‘Dat $tick’ video because I already had another music video with that name. If I could change my name I’d change it to something that has nothing to do with race because it’s corny.” 

“I don’t see the big deal in using the word ‘nigga’ as long as you don’t use it in a racist context. I personally don’t use it during conversations, I just prefer not to, I used it in my song because I just liked the way it sounded on it, I also wanted to kinda help neutralize the word by putting out something that sounds cool and gets people like ‘This is dope so I’ll let this slide.’ And by looking at the little amount of dislikes I think it’s working.”

“I wanna dive deep into music but still do comedy on the side because that’s where I came from, it’s what got me here and I wouldn’t just switch up my brand like that.”

“My current obsession is definitely the movie Ratatouille; it’s amazing how they taught the rat how to cook for the movie. Music/entertainment wise Tyler The Creator, he is a genius.”

“What’s next? Expect 3 singles next month and hopefully a mixtape.”

MIXTAPE:

“Best Friend”

Young Thug

“I love Young Thug, the way he switches up his flow and sings at the same time, it’s like seeing magic.”

 

“PARIS”

$UICIDEBOY$

“They’re my new favorite rappers, very unique sound and flow.”

“Broke Boi”

Playboi Carti

“I hated this song the first time, but it grows on you.”

“Look At Wrist”

Father

“Father is my favorite rapper from Awful and this song shows exactly why.”

“Fergalicious”

Fergie

“I just started getting really into this song, I always lose it when Will.I.Am says ‘hit it Fergie!’”

“Too Young”

Post Malone

“I’ve been listening to Post Malone lately, I like his unique sound, plus he’s the sweetest dude ever.”

“No Flocking”

Kodak Black

“I know every single word of this song the second day I started listening to it.”

“ULT”

Denzel Curry

“I prefer listening to this song with the music video because it’s so good; it’s like one whole artwork.”

Mixtape: Ken Jenie (Jirapah)

I remember the first time I made a mixtape it really wasn’t for anybody’s listening pleasure except myself and the songs that I fell in love with. It was my first exposure to the colorfully gritty world of hip hop and my parent’s refusal to buy me records with profanity (I was barely a teen) that led to me making mixtapes. While in Junior High School you can often find me sitting by my stereo’s tape deck to catch Wu-Tang Clan’s “Da Mystery of Chessboxin” and Shyheim’s “On and On” get played on 97.1 and staying up very late listening to Stretch and Bobbito’s show on 89.9 to catch some uber-interesting tracks I wouldn’t have been able to listen to otherwise. Inspired by those first mixtapes experiences, the following selection of music is a compilation of some of my favorite 90s hip hop songs that aren’t too familiar but aren’t too obscure either, enjoy!

Smiff N Wessun

“Bucktown”

My goodness, this song is such a smooth headbopper and when the chorus comes along you just can’t help sing along.

Company Flow

“8 Steps to Perfection”

Rugged like Rwanda!!! This song is hard as hell without having to be aggressive.

Artifacts

“Wrong Side of the Tracks”

The best song ever made about grafitti.

Juggaknots

“I’m Gonna Kill You”

Breezly Brewin’s liquid flow telling a story? Perfect.

Siah & Yeshua Da Poed

“The Norm”

Unsung Heroes production is great and the song features, in my opinion, one of the best hip hop duo to ever grab the mic.

Eminem

“I Just Don’t Give a Fuck”

One of the best punchline-fest I have ever heard.

Common

“Bitch in You”

Common Sense putting Ice Cube in his place accompanied by Pete Rock’s production, this is one of those diss songs with tons of replay value.

J-Live

“Braggin’ Writes”

J-Live’s production and lyrical ability makes him a double-threat and this song really shows that off. A classic!!!

Non Phixion

“Black Helicopters”

Okay, so this was actually around 2000, I think, but everything from Non Phixion’s conspiracy politics is perfect and Necro’s production is on point so I just had to put this in!

Camp Lo

“Black Nostaljack”

A smooth, funky headbopper featuring some of the best flows Sonny Cheeba and Geechi Suede has recorded.

As published in NYLON Indonesia December 2011

Photo by Poppie Mayiesky

Hear Jirapah music on http://www.myspace.com/jirapah