What was once a golden era of local music in the ‘90s, the rap scene in Indonesia actually led the rap movement among musicians in Southeast Asia. We can all thank Iwa K and Denada that helped shape the rap and hiphop landscape. The golden era has slowly died out in the public eyes, but the community is still going strong and solid. Introducing the next female rapper about to become a wonder, goes by Insta handle @ramengvrl. Been rapping music since 2013, she released a music video for her first official song, I’m Da Man last July. And now she is working on her new single about Gojek and preparing the songs material for her EP.
When it comes to rap scene, people back then knew one female rapper: Denada. And now, slowly but surely, you sort of became the poster icon of today’s female rapper. How did it all go down?
“It all started when I posted my music demo in Sound Cloud back in 2013. It was really out of the blue, but I was surprised at the response. People liked them. I like to express myself through words and I converted those words to music. After that, I got discovered by Undergroud Bizniz Club and since then everything was kind of snowball. When I joined them, the local hiphop scene started to recognize me, all the way to Malaysia and Singapore –or so I’ve heard. Prior to joining UBC in 2016, I wasn’t sure about having a career as a rapper. But the guys (of UBC) was adamant that I should join, and I finally agreed to join them in 2016.”
We’re intrigued to ask: why Ramen?
“I used my real name back in SoundCloud days. But at some point, I tried to find the best name for me. Hiphop names, I don’t relate to the hiphop-ish name and the excessive gold chains and stuff. (laughs) After putting into some thoughts: since I love Japan, I decided to use Ramengvrl as my stage name.”
Take a little backtrack, what did you do before jumping into the hiphop scene?
“Your 9 to 5 kind of employee (laughs). In fact, the first time I uploaded my demo in Sound Cloud, I was working on my thesis and I poured my frustation into music. When I graduated, I got a job but I didn’t feel it. During my working days, I took a hiatus from music because I was skeptical about the potential in hiphop scene in Indonesia. And just because I have some priorities to do and some bills needed to be paid, I endured the job.”
Changing the environment into hiphop scene, what do you feel about it?
“There are lot of differences. I feel happier, indeed. I dont’t really think that I can put up with the same repetitive works everyday. And some people might think that I have changed, but I haven’t changed at all – I am who I am. And I think about it a lot; that music is my passion. It probably sounds cliché but making money from your passion is the best thing in the world.”
Talking about your music now, share to us about your latest single “I’m Da Man”.
“It’s my first official single under my label. If you listen to it closely, the hook of the song sounds like a joke – I mean I’m capable to do more than that (laughs). But the song’s theme itself is taken from the lack of female rappers in the scene. Despite the majority of rappers are male, I don’t think I’m less than them—I’m still the man. That’s basically the point of the song.”
Your first hip-hop exposure?
“First of all, it was a blessing and a dilemma at the same time. When I stepped in, I still had a lot to learn until I was recognized as one of them. I’m still learning things. I learn about the flow in a song and how to handle the crowd on stage. But I got this dilemma in the hiphop scene because there is this perception that a rapper has to master a freestyle rap. To the present day, there are still pros and cons. Hiphop is really a competitive scene. It’s a natural selection; whether you survive or not, it depends on you at the end. First, I listened to mainstream hiphop songs, like Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Nicki Minaj until I stumbled upon J. Cole and other rappers. After diligently learning about hiphop, I knew that we can talk about anything in our song, and that’s actually what makes me fall harder with hiphop. You can express and expose yourself freely. And surprisingly, hiphop outside America is pretty dope too, like Asian rappers are also dope. I like Dumbfounded from South Korea.”
Thoughts on Indonesian hiphop scene, do you think it will grow in an instant?
“Definitely! Hiphop is like indie music few years ago; everyone is going towards to that particular genre of music. Maybe it’s a phase that everyone has, but at least the path has been opened for others.”
The last time we checked, you were featured in Ariel Nayaka’s song, Hyperballin. How was it? And name us rappers with whom you really want to have a duet.
“It was all Ricky’s, or better known as Sihk, idea. He came to one event and saw me perfom, then he contacted me and told me that he had this sick beat. After that, he contacted Nayaka, too, and he thought that we both were rising rappers and made us a collab. That’s how Hyperballin made. And I really want to do a collaboration with Rich Chigga. He is one of my inspirations and his music is really dope. While one local rapper whom I would like to have a collab with is Noise, I like his music a lot.”
As a female rapper, do you want to have your signature style which distinguishes yourself from other male rapper?
“I think that I wanted to have my own style because of two reasons: this is the real me and I want to look different from other rapper who wear gold chains and baggy clothes. I don’t want to force myself to become someone that is not me.”
Describe your own style then.
“I like something quirky and different from others. I like those clothes with statement, whether from the bold words on it, or patches. And I find comfort in boyish kind of clothes.”
Your recent favorite fashion pieces and your best buy ever?
“I really like this kind of jeans with fringe and stuff. And lately, I’m fond of pajamas aesthetic clothes (laughs). As an e-Bay wh*re, one of my best buy, which turns out to be my signature style, is Kurt Cobain’s kind of shade. I bought many colors out of it.”
After talking about your music and fashion, do you think both of them have something in common?
“Yeah, absolutely! The reckless and bold part, I think? I mean if you listen to my music, I’m not hesitant to say about few stuff which is somehow unfiltered. Like I don’t give a single sh*t about the comments like us girls can’t say such words like boys. And for fashion itself, I’m not really afraid to wear bold stuff as well. So I think both have the similarity.”
Editor&Conceptor: Galuh Tathya
Writer: Adhinda Latifa
Photographer: Vicky Melly
MUA: Nadia Renata
Stylist: Hilarius Matthew
Digital Imaging: Dela Naufalia
Wardrobe: Lovo, Monstore, Saint x Sinner, Bypozo, available at The F Thing