The music industry recently welcomed the birth of Def Jam Southeast Asia. The biggest hip-hop label in the world is set to showcase several Southeast Asian rappers to the whole world.

Many were excited at the good news when it was announced that the whole roster of Joe Flizzow’s Kartel Records has join forces with Universal Music Malaysia to form Def Jam Malaysia and Def Jam Singapore. Cue mic drop!

Source: Universal Music Malaysia

The announcement was made during a special press conference held at The Bee @ Publika last Friday (27th September). We got to witness live performances from the multi-talented lineup of Def Jam Malaysia and Singapore including Abubakarxli, Fariz Jabba, Yung Raja, SonaOne, Alif and of course, Joe Flizzow himself.

ADVERTISEMENT

During the event, we managed to catch up with the Mr. President himself as well as SonaOne and Alif. The trio spilled the deets on their Def Jam venture, important advice to share to up-and-coming singers, challenges they’ve faced and the music industry as a whole.

 

<>

<>
<>
<>
<>
<>
<>

View this post on Instagram<>
<>
<>

<>
<>
<>
<>

<>
<>
<>

<>
<>
<>
<>
<>

This is not a job This is not a hobby @allisamazing @defjamsea

A post shared by SonaOne (@itssonaone) on

<>

Can you explain more on Def Jam Recordings and also the venture?

ADVERTISEMENT

SonaOne: Sure! Def Jam is the 1st hip-hop label in the world. So, this thing has been around since 1982. I was not even born around that time. But basically, hip-hop today will not be this big if it wasn’t for Def Jam. They were the 1st label to promote the music and also its culture and has given the biggest classic acts like LL Cool J, Beastie Boys, Jay-Z, Kanye West and Rihanna. Def Jam is the biggest rap label in the world.

So for me, this whole venture overall is a dream come true for me. If anybody asked me last year, “What’s your next plan?” – my answer would be this (venture) was not part of it. I didn’t expect that we will go all the way to this level. For me, it’s dope and I think it’s gonna be a good opportunity for us Southeast Asian rappers to showcase our talent to the world.

In conjunction with the new venture, what do you think are some of the important things artistes need to look out for when signing a contract?

Alif: Make sure you don’t sign the contract immediately. If you’re unsure, then get a 2nd opinion. Until you’re confident and sure enough, then you can proceed with signing the contract.

Joe Flizzow: For me, you must get yourself comfortable with the contract. Contract nowadays comes in 360-degree format deals. In this case, they take care of everything – the management, the publishing, every aspects. Even if you ask a lawyer, anything is possible if you’re familiar with what you’re signing up for. In addition, now you can craft a contract to your liking, and that is the MOST important thing.

When I sign artistes (to Kartel), I’ll ask them, “What do you want to achieve from this contract?”. Different people wants different things. A contract is an agreement, you know? You need to make an agreement for anything. So, always know what you want to out of the label. Always know your strengths, weaknesses and what will the contract should help you in a way that you can become more comfortable to concentrate on your music.

What do you hope to achieve with Def Jam that you weren’t able to achieve with other labels?

SonaOne: I’m keen on what Def Jam can help me achieve. I hope to put Southeast Asia on the map. Honestly, I’m tired of people suggesting that I should expand my career abroad. It’s not that I don’t want to. It’ll be nice but for me, Malaysia is home. I’ve been always busy doing stuff here, helping so many different artistes. I think it’s a matter of time until I can get in the position that I don’t have to go everywhere. Instead, we can have the world come to us.

Alif: We don’t know yet. Because it’s new. But we have been doing collaborations regionally already. So now there are more opportunities do even more projects with the birth of this label.

Flizzow: I want Def Jam to be that platform where Malaysian artistes can go to an international market, to be able to collaborate with several artistes across the region, make music together and create a signature Southeast Asian sound – and together we are united as one to represent this sound to the world.

 

<>

<>
<>
<>
<>
<>
<>

View this post on Instagram<>
<>
<>

<>
<>
<>
<>

<>
<>
<>

<>
<>
<>
<>
<>

Def Jam Malaysia and Singapore is now open for business. #DefJamSEA

A post shared by Joe Flizzow (@flizzow) on

<>

What do you think are the biggest misconceptions when it comes to hip-hop music?

Alif: Lyrics are not good enough. Suggestive. But for me that’s not really a concern though. Hip-hop is a form of musical expression. If you listen to any songs from any other genre  there’s a lot more repetitive lyrics for instance. So, I feel that music is a form of expression. I respect other’s opinion because at the end of the day, I know what I’m doing. And if they don’t like it then what can I do, right?

Flizzow: I think right now. there are no misconceptions because the understanding of the culture is there. Compared to 20 or 30 years ago, if you play hip-hop music in the family car and your mom will go like, “What is this?”. But today’s normal, the demographics of hip-hop is so much wider than what it used to be. People – of all society, races, religion and colour – listen to hip-hop. So, I believe misconceptions are only for people that are not knowledgeable (when it comes to the genre).

What are the perks of signing this agreement?

SonaOne: The perks for me is the brand itself. The fact that I am a part of something that is huge, that has been in the culture forever.

Alif: I got my family members at Kartel with me. So that’s cool.

SonaOne, you’ve achieved mainstream popularity through collab with Joe Flizzow in the song “Apa Khabar”. Tell us more about your career prior to “Apa Khabar”.

SonaOne: I have been working on music my entire life. We wrote “Apa Khabar” 2 years before it came out in 2014. Additionally, I also wrote the AIM award-winning song “No More” 5 years before it was officially released. Back then, I would cater to audience’s needs. That’s one of the reasons it took quite long for me to release more new music. But now, I don’t really care whether the mainstream audience would accept my music or not. Because for me, I just want to make a good music. Because if I make good music, people who like good music are gonna listen to it. So, I’m not trying to force people to listen to my music. It should be natural.

Alif, congratulations for your song “Mimpi” with K-Clique. Did you expect the popularity of the song?

Alif: The collab project with K-Clique was almost a year in the making actually. The song “Mimpi” was the 2nd one actually. Talking about the group, I knew that K-Clique was poppin’ already. But, I did not want to make a viral song. I know how to make viral songs, but that’s not my thing. I wanted to make songs that can stand the test of time. So, I feel that “Mimpi” is a great song, it’s a great feat for the group as well.

Apart from Joe who has collaborated with big names like Amy Search, Yassin and also Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza, we’ve rarely seen you guys collaborated with other artistes outside Kartel. Is it tougher to collab with singers outside your label?

SonaOne: I won’t deny that it is difficult because it varies when we work with different artiste. Because you know, almost all artistes have their own team, like us. So you have to go through the specific channels. Sometimes it doesn’t work out at all.

But for me, it’s not really an issue. In fact, I have a lot of collaboration with other artistes but I guess it’s just that not all people know about it. But I’ve done that a lot already. In fact, I’m open to any projects with all artistes regardless of genre.

Any thoughts on any rising hip-hop artistes like Bunga and K-Clique?

Alif: I love Bunga! I think she has so much potential. And we’ll just have to wait and see-lah what she turns into. I’m excited for her.

SonaOne: I love it! Bunga’s really dope! I met her when we were doing “16Bars” together in Bangkok, Thailand. So, I get to know her a little bit. She’s a sweet girl, very talented. And I know that she’s gonna have a promising career ahead.

K-Clique, man! I caught on to K-Clique like a year plus ago. And I told everybody, “You guys must watch out, man. These boys are gonna blow up.” And look at them now! I’m very happy with what they have achieved.

Source: Universal Music Malaysia

Any plans you’d like to share with us for your upcoming projects with Def Jam Southeast Asia?

Joe Flizzow: Well, Yung Raja is releasing his next single “Mad Blessings”, Caprice has a song coming out with BadBoii, Fariz Jabba will come out with a new single, SonaOne has an EP coming out, I got a whole album in the works. I’m currently working with this artist from Bangkok in addition to my collab project with Jay Park.

Much thanks to the good people at Universal Music Malaysia and also Def Jam Recordings Malaysia and Singapore for making this session to happen.

Previous articleForever 21 Bankrupt & Struggling; Outlets In Asia Expected To Close Down
Next articlePopular Annual Clearance Sale With Up To 90% Off At 65 Outlets
Syahrul Ramadan
Our intern, who is currently getting to know what it's like to work in the entertainment industry for the first time.