'SHINE x *SCAPE Talent Development Programme': Singapore's most promising music mavericks break down their greatest moments, mentors and milestones

'SHINE x *SCAPE Talent Development Programme': Singapore's most promising music mavericks break down their greatest moments, mentors and milestones

On the rise

Editor: Aravin Sandran

Fariz Jabba is a 22-year-old bilingual rapper who began his career posting home videos of short raps and remixes that went on to become viral on social media. Jabba’s rap is an amalgamation of Malay and Western pop culture that is widely appreciated in Singapore and Malaysia.

Greatest song: Chance the Rapper's verse in Kanye West's 'Ultralight Beam' is super emotional for me. I heard that song during my darkest time when I didn't know I could be a musician or rapper. This song has affected and moved me so much.

Greatest musician: Frank Ocean has transcended so many facets of pop culture. He's so relevant yet he's nowhere to be seen. He is a reclusive superstar. I strive to be like him because I honestly don't like the cameras.

Greatest mentor: I would say, my big brother, Fakkah Fuzz. He introduced me to hip-hop, and all the music I listened to before I was 11. He taught me not to take shit from anyone, not to be deaf to new knowledge and the importance of being humble.

Greatest love: Music would be my greatest love. If I'm feeling angry and disappointed, there's a song for that particular emotion.

Greatest fear: I've just recently found the love of my voice. I've learnt who how to manipulate the way it sounds in the microphone and the kinds of emotions I can bring out using just my voice. If I lose it, I'll lose my message to people. 

Greatest success: I'd say, overcoming my fear of being on stage. I still remember my first audition for a sing competition. I was 8 or 9 years old. My teachers were the judges, and I zoned out. I forgot my lyrics. My father was watching me. He was a singer back in his days so he told me to go and I went. Since then, I've learnt to absorb the energy and feel like I'm the greatest for that moment when I'm on stage. When I leave the stage, I'm back to being me. 

Greatest of all time (G.O.A.T.): Chris Brown, Michael Jackson, Tupac Shakur and Kendrick Lamar define what it means to be great. They truly believe in their craft, map their shit out, and think 10 years ahead. Yung Raja is a bilingual hip-hop artiste who is known for his tasteful unification of English and Tamil lyrics. The 23-year-old has found viral success in Malaysia and Singapore with his English-Tamil remixes of popular songs like ‘Gucci Gang’ (Poori Gang) and ‘Bartier Cardi’ (Pathuko Thambi).

Greatest song: The song that has moved me the most, and the reason for why I am who I am now, is Eminem's 'The Real Slim Shady'. It's the first rap song I ever heard. 

Greatest musician: Michael Jackson's talents are so multi-layered that nobody can truly grasp what goes on behind a man like him. 

Greatest mentor: I've never had a big brother figure in my life. My manager and producer, Ezekiel Keran, was my first big brother figure in my life. I have three elder sisters and my father is way older than me. When I met him, there were a lot of conversations that happened before the music came into the picture. He tried to understand my background. For that, I will always be grateful for.

Greatest love: It would have to be my mother. I love her too much. She was the one that believed I could become an entertainer, actor and musician. She told me to go for the first-ever audition that I went for at the age of 14. When I was telling my family that I wanted to pursue entertainment and media, the only person that stuck through it and believed it all even when it was hard to understand was my mother. That's how she has shown her unwavering love for me. If it wasn't for my mother, I wouldn't be doing any of this. I owe all of this to my mother first. It's the greatest love that I know.

Greatest fear: Losing my parents would be my greatest fear. I know it's inevitable but that's my fear. 

Greatest happiness: It's when I am with my whole family. Recently, we had a big family trip to San Franciso where my third sister lives. For the first time in my life, I was with my entire family. It was one of the greatest joys ever.

Greatest success: Success would be able to live the life of my dreams, and be able to do it in a way where there's some form of stability and longevity.

Greatest of all time: Will Smith, Quincy Jones, Notorious B.I.G. and Eminem have all left a mark so deep and broad that anyone who tries to emulate what they have done will die trying.

Axel Brizzy caught the attention of many when his rapid flows and witty lyrics surfaced on YouTube and SoundCloud. Axel has gone on to release numerous singles on YouTube, Spotify, iTunes and Apple Music at the age of 19.

Greatest song: It would have to be 'Lucky You' by Eminem featuring Joyner Lucas. I looked up to Joyner Lucas when he just started rap. Seeing someone like Lucas on par with his idol inspires me to do the same thing.

Greatest musician: Childish Gambino is my favourite, for dropping 'Because the Internet' and 'Awaken, My Love!'. Being able to switch up styles so quickly, and not being shy to put up a whole album in a different style is worthy of respect to me. 

Greatest mentor: My parents want me to never give up. They've taught me to keep going towards my destination regardless of whether I was taking a shortcut or longer path. 

Greatest love: If I don't love music the most, what's the point of doing this?

Greatest fear: It's an unsure journey in music. Who knows at the end of it whether I'll be doing this but I work hard every day and hope that I'm on the right path.

Greatest happiness: Realising each day that I can do this is happiness for me. Having a supportive family behind me is important as well. Not everyone has family that's supportive of them doing music. It's such a taboo career path in Singapore, especially if you want to pursue it full-time. If you're from a Chinese family, you are told to be a doctor or whatever. 

Greatest success: In the long-term, I want to be able to do this full-time and feed my family. 

Greatest of all time (G.O.A.T.): Music aside, Donald Glover has been successful in writing and acting in his own show, Atlanta. He even won a Golden Globe for Best Actor when he's not even an actor, to begin with. The first toy he ever got was Lando from Star Wars. Now, he has acted as Lando in Solo: A Star Wars Story. The stars aligned for him, and I hope the same thing for myself. In 10 years from now, I don't know what's in store for me but I hope it'll be the fruits of my labour.

YAØ is an upcoming singer-songwriter. He leans towards a grittier R&B style, informed by a keen love of 80’s synth-pop and Japanese city pop.

Greatest song: 'Ghost Town' by Kanye West featuring Kid Cudi, 070 Shake and John Legend. It was one of the first few songs I heard from Kanye's new album. It stood out to me because it was unconventional and yet it stuck on me.

Greatest musician: Kanye West is one of the greatest geniuses that's ever produced music. The difference between Kanye and the other rappers is that Kanye is a perfectionist. Kanye doesn't really care. He just does what he wants. I relate to that because I prefer doing stuff from the heart.

Greatest mentor: My mother is my biggest mentor. She manages to cope with her work as a full-time musician at the Singapore Chinese Orchestra and still take care of her children, especially in Singapore where pursuing music is not easy. 

Greatest love: I would have to say family and music. Without family, I couldn't even do music. 

Greatest happiness: If I didn't sing, I don't even know what I'll be doing. I'll be so lost without music in my life.

Greatest success: I haven't achieved that yet. I would define success as having a positive impact on people. It might seem scary to express your true self, but I want to show that it's possible to be yourself and make a difference in people's lives.

Greatest of all time (G.O.A.T.): The fact that we are still talking about Michael Jackson right now makes him the greatest that ever lived.Chillwave artist Houg's lustful, groovy sounds and introspective lyrics are reflective of his own struggles. Houg hopes to be able to share his story and inspire others.

Greatest song: Although I appreciate a lot of 80s synth-pop and 90s trip-hop, the greatest song for me is 'Crazy' by Seal. Seal knows how to make a spacious song sound so perfect.

Greatest musician: Although they don't directly influence by music, it would be Radiohead. They have strong principles and I appreciate that. They have an artistic mindset. 

Greatest mentor: I don't think it's one person in my life. It's the same way in music; I take my influences from everywhere: for example, kindness from mother and the sincerity of my siblings.

Greatest love: My greatest love would be music and video gaming, especially Red Dead 2 that was just released.

Greatest happiness: When I play my song, the applause at the end of it is customary. I don't know if it's out of respect or genuine appreciation. It's not about having a lack of self-confidence, but when someone says they genuinely enjoyed my music, it is a good enough marker to know that I can keep on going. 

Greatest success: I didn't expect to be picked for this programme because I can be considered left field. I do appreciate the perks that have been thrown my way. Now, I have more of an incentive to talk to people in the scene and they'll know that this is not just some experimental chap. 

Greatest of all time (G.O.A.T.): Radiohead has accomplished so many things that I appreciate beyond just strumming a guitar.

The SHINE x *SCAPE Talent Development Programme aims to discover and nurture up-and-coming artistes as they look to improve their performance and songwriting as well as develop industry relations to excel in their artistic careers. Listen to Yung Raja, Fariz Jabba, Axel Brizzy, YAØ and Houg on all good digital streaming platforms.