Iwa K: “Hip Hop Has to be Out of the Box”

For the ‘90s generation, the name Iwa K has become the trademark representative of Indonesian hip hop and rap scene. Iwa flawlessly rapped in Indonesian language, which straight away became memorable and easily entered the top music charts in the country. Iwa penetrated the Indonesian music industry circa 1993 through various hit albums Kuingin KembaliTopeng, Kramotak, Mesin Imajinasi, and Vini Vidy Vinky.

You are what Indonesians refer to whenever the ‘OG of Indonesian rap’ topic surfaces. Who was the biggest influence for you during the time?
“I have a lot, but I really admire Public Enemy, also some old school rappers that I favor are Eric B. & Rakim. Aside from hip hop, I also listen to other genre like The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and even Led Zeppelin. Well, basically, I just love music. I also listen to classic blues like B. B King and Howard Johnson.”
How would you describe the hip-hop scene in Indonesia as of right now?
“The scene is getting wider and expands from the small to the big regions. For me, the movement is spreading fast compares to how it was back in the days, and it’s such a great moment to witness. Seeing the easy access of the digital world like YouTube, they have a lot of resources to better build the hip hop scene in Indonesia. In Europe, the genre is very diverse, whereas in the USA, it depends more on the trend. What I picked up from the hip hop scene overseas is something that is called triplet flow (three notes per one beat), and this kind of flow doesn’t go with the laid back rap. But it’s what Snoop did, doing triplet flow with the laid back rap style, matching the beat whilst doing with a discipline rap.”
Any dream collab?

“If I can have a collab with anyone, I would like to do it with someone outside the hip-hop scene because to me, a collaboration requires a different energy from each person. Personally though, I’d like to have a collab with Sting, I love his music and it would be an honor to do a project together with him. For me, hip-hop has to be out of the box because the spirit itself is eclectic—if you think hip-hop has to be like this or that–well that’s not hip-hop, that’s pose.”

Your lyrics are different from other rap lyrics, what is the message you’d like to convey?
“To me, hip hop does not aim to attack other party. Ever since I started to rap, I don’t do a particular diss to certain someone or certain people, but instead it’s the characteristic of the human nature. For example, I talked about greed in Tikus Got, the corruption, which still exists up to this day. In Topeng, I diss hypocrisy. In the song Bebas, I dreamed a situation where I am able to have amy own peaceful freedom of thinking. That’s me. That’s my attitude.”
How would you describe your rap style?

“I like to be eclectic. People ask me ‘Whose style would you go with?’, well I go with my own attitude. I like Tupac’s rap style as much as I like Digable Planets. They have a different style of rap, but so what? I like combining many inspirations from different backgrounds and styles.”

What else is there to explore for Iwa K?
“I wanna try to have my own vlog. I learned from my millennial friends that I have to go out of my zone once in a while. I would like to dig more about the heart string of hip-hop that’s not only in the music area, but also how people view life through hip-hop and other stuff, to find out today’s relevant content.”

Editor: Galuh Tathya
Writer: Dela Naufalia
Photographer: Ganang Arfiandi
Digital Imaging: Rendra Martin
MUA: Nadia Renata
Stylist: Salsabila Sari
Wardrobe by Sleepynerd available at The F Thing

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