Hip Hop Scene:
As is the story with most international locales, Malaysia’s first taste of hip hop culture came in the form of film. The movies Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo and Beat Street came ashore in the early 80s and spawned some local B-Boys and B-Girls but the development of the hip hop scene as a whole was a slow burn. Around 1990, the group Krash Kozz formed and released “Pump it Up”, and soon other acts like 4U2C, Nico and KRU followed. While their sounds were more R&B than rap they still represent Malaysia’s first attempts at hip hop. This type of sound dominated the scene and reached its crescendo with Krash Kozz’s third album, “New Jack The Streetbeat,” which became a huge hit. The revamped group brought new members and, after a rumored conversation with New Jack Swing creator Teddy Riley, a brand new style. They introduced New Jack Swing to Malaysia and it took off but the group soon broke up afterwards.
While pop acts were still dominating the scene, a steady stream of groups began to make their way out of the underground bringing authentic hip hop to the forefront. The 13 person collective known as Naughtius Maximus, made up of three different crews – Deceased, Under Pressure and Reffugeez, released what is considered Malaysia first true hip hop record. The self titled debut produced landmark tracks like “Here Comes Trouble” before being banned from local television for “westernized” content. This did not exactly help sales but the notorious label placed upon them peaked the curiosity of the country’s younger generation. And if Naughtius opened the door to masses then groups like Poetic Ammo and Too Phat (Malique Ibrahim and Joe Flizzow) blew the hinges off with the commercial success of their debuts “It’s A Nice Day To Be Alive” and “Whutthadilly?” The scene continued to evolve when an emcee/producer named Altimet, inspired by Naughitus Maximus, formed the Teh Tarik Crew (TTC) and released the debut EP, “Are We Rap Stars now?” in 1999.
During the last decade or so graffiti found its voice when crews like PhobiaKlik and SWS’ (Sembur with Style) started getting up and popularized the craft leading Kuala Lumpur to became the hub of street art. Musically, artists like Too Phat, Altimet and their Kartel affiliates have helped advance the culture both inside and outside of the booth releasing a number of albums and singles while launching record labels, publishing companies and clothing lines. Altimet also co-founded the Mixology DJ Academy, an institution dedicated to spreading the knowledge of mixing and turntablism to the masses, helmed by fellow TTC member DJ Fuzz.
Today, the scene continues to grow and develop with established graf crews (PhobiaKlik, SWS, Super Sunday, Medium Touch, TLG, and Phiberwryte), competitions and festivals (Raising the Bar & KUL Sign Festival) and emerging artists like , Caprice, Karmal, Kraft, and Tactmatic.
Due to it’s strategic location between the east and the west, Malaysia has been a major trading port throughout its history. Traders and settlers from India and China arrived as early as the 1st century AD, establishing trading ports and coastal towns in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. Other countries followed suit and have contributed to Malaysia rich diverse culture. Native Malays, Chinese, Indians and many other indigenous ethnic groups have lived together in Malaysia for generations. All have influenced each other and overall created a unique Malaysian culture.
Geographically, Malaysia is like two countries in one split by the China Sea. One half, Peninsular Malaysia, includes the capital city Kuala Lumpur or KL and the majority of the population and economy, while Malaysia Borneo, also known as Sabah and Sarawak, is less populated and less developed but is home to the bulk of the country’s natural resources including oil and gas.
During the late 18th and 19th centuries, Great Britain established colonies and protectorates in the area of current Malaysia; these were occupied by Japan from 1942 to 1945. In 1948, the British-ruled territories on the Malay Peninsula except Singapore formed the Federation of Malaya, which became independent in 1957. Malaysia was formed in 1963 when the former British colonies of Singapore as well as Sabah and Sarawak on the northern coast of Borneo joined the Federation.
Since independence, Malaysia has had one of the best economic records in Asia, with GDP growing an average 6.5% for almost 50 years. The economy has traditionally been fueled by its natural resources, but is expanding in the sectors of science, tourism, commerce and medical tourism.
Sources: Wikipedia.com, CIA.gov, Tourism Malaysia, Frommers, Fodors, and Lonely Planet.