The Old vs The New Hip Hop Scene According to Sweet Martabak

The following duo is one of the most respectable duos in the history of Indonesian rap and hip hop scene. Sweet Martabak once launched Tididit during the hayday of the good old pager device. Though there have been a lot of new names in the hip hop industry, Sweet Martabak remain to be significant in the development of local hip hop scene.

Ferry, who was the initial member alongside John, now plays the role behind the scene as a producer. His position has now been replaced by Raymond. And the three might just have something up their sleeves in the short run, but we couldn’t spill it just yet.

What’s the history of Sweet Martabak? How did you guys meet?
John: “Sweet Martabak’s first formation didn’t start with me and Raymond. It was me and Ferry, we met at Pesta Rap, where I also met Raymond. Over the years, Ferry’s schedule rarely matched with Sweet Martabak’s gig schedule and that’s why he decided to take music hiatus. Entered Raymond, at first Raymond was Ferry’s stand-in person. In our mind, Ferry never left the group, he still partakes the majority of our projects in terms of beats and lyrics.”
Who or what is your biggest influence as a rapper?
Raymond: “Honestly, I don’t have many of idols, but I fell in love with rap when I listened to Tupac.”
John: “Same in my case, I got no rapper in particular, but I gotta say I’m a fan of 90’s hip hop era. We grew up listening to hip hop and rap music in that era and I can safely say that Sweet Martabak is delivering that kind of mood. Our concept is fun, like what it was back in the 90s, we don’t do a lot of protests and critics.”
Your thought on local hip hop scene and the global one?

“We might still be one step behind, judging by the environment and whatnot, it’s just different. Talent wise though, we might be as good as them. If you can see now, the scene now is more varied compares to back in the days, today’s rappers have loads of talents—it can also be seen in the mood and how they deliver lyrics. Even on how they view things now affects how they deliver the rap techniques.”


“It’s a bit hard to compare the then versus now, because everything is easily accessible nowadays to find references. If we’re talking about skills, I have to agree that they’re more talented and well-developed.”

If Sweet Martabak can collaborate with any rapper or producer, who would you guys want it to be?
John: “I would like to collab with young producers. Like I said before, the way they produce music now is more interesting than how we produced music back then. For rapper, I like Tuan Tigabelas, but in my opinion he’s on a different level. I’d like to do a collab with RAMENGVRL as well.”
Raymond: “I’ve always wanted to do a collab with the seniors, like Glenn Fredly, Yovie, musicians who aren’t a rapper. It’d be more interesting to have a collab with musicians from different genre.”
Does each of you have a different kind of rapping style?
Raymond: “Since I’m here to take Ferry’s role, I tried my best to pick up his style of rap. So what I represent has been the way how Ferry would rap, but I also add my own style to it. “
John: “Yeah, Ferry has been taking the part to do the flow rap. Whereas me, I tend to loosen up and do the ecstatic kind of rapping—half singing, half rapping with a heavy voice or a scream. The way Ferry raps, which is represented now by Raymond, maintains our genre and it’s how people still see us as a hip hop group now.”

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

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