feature image credit: Orfeus

“Our Art is a reflection of our reality.”

Ice Cube said it in the biopic “Straight Outta Compton” but the words ring true not only for the American rap artist, but many individuals who identify as an artist, regardless whether their medium is music, writing or painting.

Closer to home, Malaysian rapper, Orfeus, is echoing the truth of that quote with the release of “Gelora Kuning”,  a song made last year, rehashed now to fit in apt references for the 19 November 2016, Bersih 5 rally recently.

Amazingly, as Eksentrika found out, the video clip from idea to execution was done in the duration of a week!

This is quite a feat especially since features in the music video include notable figures such as poet laureate, Pak Samad, Bersih activists, Hishamuddin Rais and Maria Chin Abdullah, former PM, Mahathir Mohamad and even a family member (sister: Teoh Lee Lan) of the late Teoh Beng Hock, whose cause of death in custody of the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) back in 2009 remain a mystery.

We spoke to Orfeus, whose previous works include Prop Ganda and Lawan Tetap Lawan with rap group 5forty2, to learn more about the person behind the artistry and reasons behind his political messages.

1. Tell us some about yourself – age, hometown, day job if any

Born as Edry Faizal, from Batu Caves. I’m 31 years old. Currently working as coordinator for Sekolah Demokrasi and I’m also a councillor for the Selayang Municipal Council.

2. How long have you been a rap artist – share some of your performance background

I’ve been rapping since I was 7 years old but in the beginning, it was just for fun memorizing other people’s song.

Back then, rap groups using Malay in their songs were very limited. My favorite at the time was Nico. Nothing serious though until I was 16 years old, that’s when I fell in love with hip hop and started learning to write and rap properly from some veterans in the scene.

In 2003 I formed 5forty2 and then actively performed in the group. Most of my previous works can be found under 5forty2.

3. “Gelora Kuning” has a political message – are you not afraid of being persecuted by the authorities for making it?

Of course I have my worries. But as the late South African presiden Nelson Mandela said, “courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.”

In this tug of war of conquering the public sphere, if everyone choose to self-censor themselves, we will end up like what Pak Samad mentioned in his poem, a nation of manusia tanpa lidah. Therefore, I have to speak out.

4. Do your previous works also have a political message theme? Why so? What message do you hope to deliver through your music?

I have a few with 5forty2, for example Prop Ganda and Lawan Tetap Lawan. When I started my solo project, most of the song have a political messages. Modus Optatif for example talks about a longing of having an egalitarian society. I believe this is because my music grows with me. It always speaks of my concerns. This is why, I think, (the message) has gotten more serious compared to my works say 10 years back.

5. Do you write your rap lyrics on your own? How long does it usually take you?

In hiphop, a rapper is known as an emcee and usually write their own lyrics. Those who don’t, usually will lose some respect. In terms of how long I take to finish a lyric, if I feel the music and I have a good cup of tea next to me, it won’t take long to finish. Gelora Kuning took me a few days though as I wanted to put more effort into it.

6. Any current/ future projects you are working on that you would like to share about?

I have few more songs in progress. One of it touches on the urge to be free from any control. I’m collaborating a lot these days with my comrades from Kelawar Records, a local hiphop collective. I hope by next year I can drop my solo EP.

7. How did you manage to get all those bigwigs to be in your video clip? Share with us your experience and challenges on the making of “Gelora Kuning” video.

The activist circle is not very big. The team who helped me with the video (they helped a lot but don’t want to be named) somehow had contacts with the people (aforementioned).The biggest challange for the music video is time. A friend suggested that we do a music video for the song to lift the spirits of the people -by which time, we only had one week to finish, from ideation to final product (before being posted on youtube on 17 November 2016). Everyone had to squeeze this project into each of our tight schedules. We did receive some donation but the biggest investment is time and commitement.

Fans and potential hirers can get in touch with Orfeus on Facebook or Twitter. Are you also a rapper spitting revolutionary rhymes? Give us the crackalackin at editors@eksentrika.com