Growing up, Nas Arif and Hairul Nizam’s love and pursuit of hip-hop hasn’t been as smooth as the rap rhymes they obsessed over.
As Muslims in Singapore, they’ve had to juggle the conservative traits of their own culture with the explicit nature of their adopted culture. A task made especially tough by disapproving parents.
Luckily, as devout practitioners of the faith, they’re more prone to conscience-raising lyrics rather than hair-raising exploits. It’s a process that has come with an evolving mindset and greater respect for their own culture, where in their earlier years, they would accept gigs at nightclubs, and stopping so after the realisation that such locations clashed with their beliefs.
As they’ve gotten older, they’ve moved on from juggling two distinct worlds to uniting the two. They have started rapping in Malay, finding a new burning interest to instil as much values about native culture in their take on hip-hop.
It’s an ongoing process, this pursuit of passion, and Nas and Jin still seek balance to it all. But as the creed goes, they’re keeping it real. And in the world of hip-hop, that’s the best way to live.
My Culture is part of our Shoot From The Heart channel on Viddsee.