Hip-hop with leather puppets

Hip-hop with leather puppets
Indonesian group Jogja Hip Hop Foundation members include (from left) Balance (Balance Perdana Putra), Lukman (Lukman Hakim), Kill The DJ (Muh Marzuki), M2MX (Heri Wiyoso) and Anto (Yanu Prihaminanto.

Indonesian music collective Jogja Hip Hop Foundation rap in Javanese, use Indonesian instruments such as the gamelan and reference classical Javanese and Malay literature in their hip-hop songs.

Fusing their culture with the urban grittiness of hip-hop music was a natural evolution, says spokesman Muh Marzuki, better known by his stage name Kill The DJ.

"We got a lot of inspiration from our culture and traditions. It is our root, just like the Javanese language that we're using every single day, gamelan has also become part of our daily lives because we've listened to it since we were born," the 38-year-old says in an e-mail interview. "There were no pretensions to combine it with contemporary hip-hop, everything happened naturally."

The quintet, which also comprise M2MX (Heri Wiyoso), 34, Anto (Yanu Prihaminanto), 36, Balance (Balance Perdana Putra), 31, and Lukman (Lukman Hakim), 34, are one of the headline acts at the Esplanade's Malay arts festival Pesta Raya, which runs from today until Sunday.

Their gig at the Esplanade Concert Hall this Saturday is their second in Singapore.

Performing here again is special, Marzuki says, because their first series of gigs here at the 2009 edition of the same festival opened up doors for them to do more shows outside of Indonesia.

"It was our first time performing abroad as a group," he says. "And it turned out to be our window to the international stage. So we have to say thank you to the Esplanade.

At that time, we were a bit nervous about how to address the public who did not know us but now, everything is getting better because we are quite experienced at it."

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