Goes by the name Yacko, the 38-year-old musician is known as one of the most respected rappers in Indonesia. Started her music career since adolescent, Yani Oktaviana is more than just her artsy persona – the busybee is also a lecturer and a humanitarian. In the daylight, she teaches college students, yet she turns into her other self as a rapper slash musician at night. Don’t get confused, she holds both of the power fiercely. Now take a seat and learn more what’s on her mind.
What keeps you busy on daily basis?
“I’ll keep myself busy at the campus, because I happen to be the head of campus, and a lecturer as well at UIC College. I teach Management, Marketing, Business – you name it. But at the same time, I do radio broadcasting and I’m still active on my campaign Hands Off, my campaign to fight sexual harassment since last year. And I open a workshop on how to write rap song with other singer/rappers. The last one, I’m trying to bring back my project with Amanda in AxY. Quite a lot, eh?”
Sure, you are a busy woman. But can you tell us the story behind your latest song, Kicks Love?
“I made the song out of my admiration of sneakers. I’ve been collecting sneakers for a while. I mean, sneakers become a part of my life already. Like everywhere I go, I always wear sneaker. And please take note that it’s not because sneakers are trending everywhere – man, it’s a basic stuff in our life. It’s basically footwear. But again, people have difference preferences, and I love a sneaker, that’s why I made a song about sneakers and how people actually love sneakers.”
With all those activities, how did you split your time to fit them all in?
“I don’t sleep (laughing). It’s a bit challenging for me though. I spent my hours mostly at campus, then after 6 PM, I change my role from a lecturer to a musician, or to my another roles. I really need a good time management, which is I still learn to do that until now. Not to mention that I have other projects. But in term of my music, it tends to be a little bit delayed, but it doesn’t mean that I postpone my music project, but yeah maybe it’s a bit slower if you compared me to fellow musicians.”
Talking about music, especially hip-hop, in Indonesia the scene is dominated by male. Share your thoughts about that?
“About that case, it’s originally like that. Not only in here, but in America, it’s still dominated by male rapper. It actually goes back to the history, I mean you can actually find stuff about that on the internet. But first thing first, it’s quite a patriarchy in hip-hop. Even I still can find the lyrics that degrading women. But it doesn’t mean that women can’t tap in that scene. In my opinion, being a rapper is an occupation. Let’s say, there’s no such thing like male pilot or female pilot, they’re all pilots. It’s just the same as rapper. And maybe because the lack female ones in the industry, especially in Indonesia. I mean, when people know that there’s female who does rap, they’ll say ‘what are you doing honestly?’. It is how society works – it sometimes shapes women mind, so it’ll pressure them. Like if someone wanted to explore more in rap music, but because the pressure from the society and family. People still can’t see that being a rapper is an occupation, like it doesn’t earn you money.”
More about hip-hop culture, what do you say about the dissing culture in rapping?
“Well it’s a part of hip-hop. And it runs in the culture for a long time. Like any other genres, it causes a drama, it’s causing a chatter. But then again it’s up to the rapper or musician whether it’s important or not. Yet my question is, would you like to diss everyone, everytime?”
As a musician, you are aware with your surroundings. Then what kind of theme that you would love to bring in your music, but you haven’t get the chance to do that till now?
“That’s a good question. Hmm. Truth be told, I have no answer to the question yet. I still have no inspiration about it. I mean inspiration or ideas come in a sudden way. Maybe I wanna speak up more about women’s rights, or gender equality. But that doesn’t mean I’ll stop rapping about everyday life or education. It comes naturally, the idea.”
Writer: Adhinda Latifa
Editor: Olivia Elena
Photographer: Vicky Melly
MUA: Nadia Renata
Digital imaging: Dela Naufalia
Videographer: Iqbal Safei