It’s back to the grind for the majority.
The good news is that an abundance of new releases by local artists such as Daniel Sid, Charles Enero, Jarvis, Glen Wee, Jarvis and more, have been dropped right around the beginning of phase two as the climate is now rife for creativity.
We took some time to put together our celebratory playlist as we move towards normalcy.
1 . Mid90s by Charles Enero
Linchpin of legendary local hip-hop collective Grizzle Grind Crew, Charles Enero serves up nostalgia in the form of “Mid90s”, an homage to growing up in the 1990s. Produced by fellow Grizzle Grinder LINEATH, the freshly released banger references icons of the 90s—Michael Jackson, Brosnan playing the role of James Bond and Gameboys amongst others.
According to Charles, the song became a commentary piece for his favourite parts of the era. He accredits his neuroticism and introversion for his personal means of creation. “By no means am I romanticising the persona of a troubled artist,” he clarifies, “but that’s the method to my madness.” Going beyond, he draws inspiration from films, books and video games.
Formed in 2013, the Grizzle Grind Crew has played a staple role in Charles’ life and career. The collective is helmed by homegrown hip-hop artist ShiGGa Shay and comprises of several prominent native rappers, singers and producers, such as the likes of comedian/rapper Fakkah Fuzz, DJ LeNerd and actor/musician Tosh Rock. On the dynamic of the group’s creative processes, Charles states that the beats would have been produced by some of the other members of the crew before it reaches him. “I love it that way, to be honest. It gives me a chance to work on stuff I wouldn’t normally do on my own. It’s also the time I learn the most from them,” he professes.
In the current climate of the local scene, he looks forward to bringing his “own brand of confessional and nerdy hip-hop” to the table. “Honestly, I just might end up being that uncle in hip-hop that the kids find cool, but an uncle nevertheless. And that is terrain no local rapper in our generation has gracefully walked on yet.”
The labyrinthine realm of romance is almost never black and white. In folk crooner JAWN’s comeback number misleadingly titled “Simple”, frustrations find a place between the interlacing harmonisation between his and fellow Singaporean singer-songwriter LEW, and the downcast acoustic strings. The musician-cum-artist explains in an Instagram post that track emerged from a completely different point in their lives years ago—full of happiness, hope and naivety. The sentimental fondness is as apparent as it is relatable; we’ve all envied our younger carefree selves and in Jonathan’s words, a time with “functioning serotonin receptors”.
3. Nak Tak Nak by Fariz Jabba
On the fast track to the hip-hop stratosphere is Fariz Jabba, known regionally for his hilariously witty wordplay in his bilingual bars bearing both English and Bahasa Melayu; “Kalah” featuring omarKENOBI. Swaddled by glitzy synthetic beats, “Nak Tak Nak” is an icy R&B pop track for the late nights and dimmed lights. Fariz’s polished tone holds qualities that are reflective of current international chart-toppers and delivers bars that express questions for the fickle love interest in his life—”Nak tak nak?”, or the colloquial “You want or don’t want?”
The tune is also a reflection of his personal journey during his time in lockdown. Reflecting on his past lows during the last few months, he is fascinated by “what a human mind can do, in terms of changing and thwarting your mind, for an opinion or perspective of a fact, when it’s just a doubt in your mind weighing at the back of your mind”, which, in a way, he self-assertively reflects that it could have possibly stemmed from his deep-seated insecurities or lack of confidence. Now that he has snapped out of it, the charismatic Fariz goes, “damn, it’s so cute“.
Comparisons to other musicians, celebrities or influencers in the digital realm during lock down were of course, rife, since everyone was fixated onto their social media devices. “Generally I don’t compare myself to people, as I am completely different, but when I do look up to someone, I do try to match up how hardworking they are. Like when I was watching “The Last Dance” by Michael Jordan – I was impressed by his levels of hard work”, which of course, upon hindsight, might not have necessarily the most optimal, especially when taking their context of hard work and trying to mimic it. “Hard work doesn’t mean fast work”, he wisely goes on, “And sometimes consistency isn’t every day. It could be once every two days for having one day to rest or something like that.”
In fact, a lot of what shaped Fariz’s current success in his career which eventually led him to sign on to Def Jam South East Asia, stemmed from his deep relationship with his older brother, Fakkah Fuzz, who introduced him tunes such as Tupac, Ludicrous and Eminem via CDs. Growing up, they did not rely on cable, and were fully immersed in such CD playlists that were put on repeat from eight to twelve. Fariz credits Fakkah as being his first-ever A&R manager, having taught him “proper ways of how to write, how to arrange lyrics, how to talk to people, how to carry myself and how to sell myself.” More is definitely in store for Fariz, as he continues to push the boundaries of his music and style, having worked with trendy fashion labels, such as Tommy Jeans and more.
Another anchor in the Grizzle Grind Crew; Zadon has been laying down vocal percussions for the pack since its initiation. As an artist, the swanky rapper has been releasing R&B tracks under his moniker, largely in Mandarin. In a short drop featuring a freestyle beat produced by Riidem, Zadon puts his flow on full display—all big personality and an incredible sell of lyrics that transverse between English and Mandarin. Though the fire track by Zadon hasn’t been officially released, you can check out Riidem’s instrumental freestyle on Soundcloud.
5. Sweet Mama by Glen Wee
We are reminded once again that there hasn’t been one like Glen Wee. The Final 1’s third runner-up has moved onto greener pastures since the competition, having had released his debut album in 2018 and most recently, a live performance of “Sweet Mama”—a heartwarming dedication to his own mother. Belting his appreciation against an accompaniment of gentle acoustic strings as well as a brass section, the song makes for a feel-good Mother’s Day anthem.
From his time in The Final 1, Glen has found himself honing his skills and understanding of music. On his evolution from being a young singer-songwriter to one who found his footing with an inclination towards the contemporary folk and soul genre, he remarks, “My taste & love for old jazz and soul music has grown since and has been a huge influence on how I write, read and feel music, and its influence on the world around us.”
As of current, he reveals that a new album is in the process of construction. The anticipated release will highlight his ties with his family, friends as well as his own path of self-discovery. “I think it’s one of the hardest things to encapsulate because we are all always changing, and it’s not just ourselves that are changing, but the people around us as well.”
Dnl. is a name that has been creeping up in the scene, most recently armed with the melancholic charm of latest release “Why Don’t You” that features rapper/singer Chloe Ho. Aside from the refreshing change that comes with the delicate female rapping courtesy of Chloe, the track stems from raw emotions that possess charismatic qualities unparalleled to the vastly manufactured genre of chilled-out R&B. The song follows up to “Kinda Lonely”, released earlier last month that offers the resembling vibe of desolation through solitude and unrequited feelings.
7. Hue by Daniel Sid
Raspy-voiced Daniel Sid paints the colours of his world in new single “Hue”. The passionate piano ballad is the third of his solo studio releases, following up to 2018’s “Greener Grass” and 2019’s “Bluer Skies”. In stark contrast to the soft tinkling of mellow keys, “Hue” manages to showcase Daniel’s unique throaty belt that ties in with the climax of the number, demonstrating that his voice might just be as big as his personality.
8. Racism by Sheikh Banafe
Don’t let his age fool you—17-year-old Sheikh Banafe all but shies away from compelling issues of the world. In “Racism”, he raps in the face of discrimination, spreading awareness for international affairs, including the injustice of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor’s deaths. Though production is a little rough around the edges, the sentiment remains earnest and raw; the main takeaway in the finale “Cut your skin open, you’ll see that we all bleed the same”.
9. 讓我們現在馬上就去喝一杯 by Jarvis
The world of Jarvis is one of whim and adorable doodles in soft pastels. As an introductory to the Mandarin singer, we were treated to debut single “讓我們現在馬上就去喝一杯”, a lighthearted earworm for the blithe and free. The accompanying music video that serves as an animated lyric video is a palatable pop of food, beer and bubble tea, adding to the lively aura that the tune emanates and thus fortifying the primary message of dropping one’s worries and living it up in a KTV.
10. Wanderlust by KHAi
How much of your heart are you willing to put on the line for a mirage of the past? In “Wanderlust”, KHAi explores the journey of loss and letting go; allowing vulnerability to grapple the best of him and steer his decisions. It’s grasping at straws for the one that’s getting away, justifying unsavoury judgements in the name of invested time and empty promises. Emotions splayed out on a backdrop of almost-hopeful strummed chords and a captivating instrumental hook, the Singapore Polytechnic alum is undeniably set out for the big leagues.