Ever since Fariz Jabba met OmarKENOBI at an event through a mutual friend, they shared an instant connection and the rest is history. The wacky East-siders are collaborating for the first time on a synth-based track “Kalah” (Malay for “lose”) and will be releasing it on the eponymous Def Jam label. Except in this case, the message is clear in their fresh new drop. They stay at the top of their game with snazzy suits, smart quips and “never lose”.
Conceptualised in Fariz’s home studio and filmed by Jasper Tan of vadbibes which pokes fun at the Singapore kiasu (“scared to lose”) mindset, the infectious, satire rap track is the second solo release for omarKENOBI who has been featured on tracks by Sam Rui and other local artistes.
As for his co-creator, the 23-year old rapper whose stage name Fariz Jabba is a reference to hip-hop dance crew “Jabbawockeez” or the Arabic word, “jabbar” (almighty). Fariz has broken a couple of viral hits, and this track will build upon his previous viral successes, sharpening his vision and intention to create music.
Of course, having the right genes helps, being the brother of popular comedian Fakah Fuzz who has been a stellar inspiration. Although, his breakthrough success was not something that came easily, with his early awkward teenage years as a “class clown”. In this critical era of uncertainty, the duo’s steadfast belief in their music, work and life is something that shines through in their bold, cheeky collaboration.
Popspoken: What were the first impressions when you met each other and how has that changed since?
Fariz: I was watching Fauxe’s show and Omar and his friends attended as well. At the time, I knew who Omar was already, having watched his videos and listened to some of his music! I only had 1 song at that time which was Renaissance and Omar told me he heard it and liked it. As months went by, we realised that we stayed really close to each other and started becoming really close.
Omar: I heard his song Renaissance first and I really digged it. I remember falling asleep right as he uploaded his Kunci Gang remix and waking up to Twitter blowing up about it. That’s when I knew this guy was tight with the mic and we gradually became closer because East Side represent!
Popspoken: Which are the 3 words you use most often in your everyday speech, and why?
Fariz: “Really?” – probably because I’m pretty skeptical about things without a legitimate source, “Dope” as I get easily amused about things as well and “Fire” which just means that something is hot as in, “dope” as well. Just another word for it.
Omar: My three words are “Bet” when I agree with something, “Dope” when I find something cool and “Shag” when everything doesn’t seem to go quite my way.
Popspoken: What is the role of rap and hip-hop on social commentary in Singapore?
Fariz: Hip-hop acts as a mirror to society. It is also very personal to the artist’s context of their life, environment and upbringing. Personally, I try my best to not point out politically biased social perspectives because my philosophy of art right now is to feel good.
Omar: I think as a member of Mediocre Haircut Crew, we’ve dealt with content such as censorship and expressing ourselves freely. Outside of that, I personally do not use music as a vehicle to promote or mention social issues. But that’s just me. I like writing love songs.
Popspoken: Were both of you considered “cool kids” growing up? How do you balance your new-found popularity with the ability to stay grounded to the values when creating new music?
Fariz: That’s a funny question. I was the annoying class-clown that everybody was trying to avoid because I liked to show off my dance moves. Eventually I realised that sometimes, you have to find the right time to show off. I follow the quote very closely: “If you live by their compliments, you will die by their criticism.”
Omar: Hell no. Hahaha. I was considered a class clown too, but it always seemed like they were more laughing at me than with me. I never really got too popular with the whole rap thing either so it’s easy to stay grounded. Popularity doesn’t mean too much to me. If you’re talented or nice, I’ll probably gravitate toward you.
Popspoken: What is the life you envision for yourself? When both of you opened up to each other, how did the collaboration change your initial vision?
Fariz: I envision consistent clarity in my intent of my art. Life can distract you with temptations, but you’d have to see past that and think of the most important audience member, which is yourself. You can’t make music that you yourself can’t listen to. When both of us decided to collaborate, it was because we already knew that our vision was in line.
Omar: I envision making music for the remainder of my life. I want to and hope to explore different ideas and disciplines of music as I grow as an artist and this collaboration was a perfect stepping stone in my growth. I love Fariz and I’m very excited to be able to be featured and produce a song with him. It’s all up from here now, baby.
For more releases by the duo, follow this link.