"Laughter is the best medicine. And painkillers."
As quick with the punchlines as he is with his rhymes, Singapore-based rapper Fariz Jabba is shaking things up in a scene that might just be a little too preoccupied with flexing. While other rappers out there rhyme about their dope lifestyles or the struggle on the streets, Fariz is here showing some love to his fav barber and dropping parody covers – like his take on Lil Pump's "Gucci Gang", "Kunci Gang".
From the first few bars of his song "Renaissance", a celebration of modern coiffure culture, you can tell that he's here to have fun—and he's not afraid to get goofy doing it.
It's no surprise that Fariz's sense of humor shines in his music. He is, after all, the brother of stand-up comedian Fakkah Fuzz. But for those more familiar with his SoundCloud than his Twitter, it's easy to miss just how much of that personality shines through in his videos.
He stands perplexed behind the barber's chair, wondering how he can turn his brother's shaved head into a flat-top fade, as if his clippers could grow hair.
He points out how awkwardly he's holding a can of Milo.
He's bouncing and smiling and having fun – and that makes him fun to watch.
In fact, "Kunci Gang" did so well that it scored him an invite to perform in Joe Flizzow's 16 Baris [16 Bars], a platform for rappers to get together and create cyphers. It was an experience, he shares, that was nearly a comedy of errors.
"So during soundcheck, I realized that what I prepared was only eight bars. I looked at DJ CZA in confusion and basically, they told me to come up with another eight bars in like five minutes. Almost quit. But I pulled through. Phew."
The video got well over 300,000 views and introduced him to an audience that he never expected – at least not at this speed. After all, "Renaissance" was released just last year in October, "Kunci Gang" at the start of 2018, and his 16 Baris appearance was in March.
Along with his buddy Yung Raja, he's part of a generation of artists who find success quickly in a digital world. In fact, he's still surprised that he's got fans.
"I think the rate of exposure for artists nowadays is much faster because of the internet and honestly, it's kinda overwhelming at this point," he shares. "But I'm trying my very best to hold on to my loved ones so that I can stay rooted and remember who I am like… two days ago."
And while he's known for the way his swingy flow is fueled by his love for dance—to the point where his lyrics become the beat you bop your head to—he also understands that rappers do have a tremendous amount of responsibility for the celebrity they enjoy. Despite the humour he shows in his performances, he always makes sure to say something of substance in his tracks. He wants to tell the story of a Malay boy searching for a global perspective. He wants to tell the truth.
He wants to have fun doing it, too.
"Words are like bullets," he explains. "And when they hit, they will scar. Rappers need to understand the amount of influence they have towards everybody across all ages. If some famous rapper dyes their hair purple, thousands of kids will do the same. Just be responsible in how you portray yourself."
"Talking to you, Raja. Kidding, love you."
Catch Fariz Jabba and 11 other rappers in Yo! MTV Raps – encore broadcast on Sunday, June 24 at 5:30pm (SG), 6:30pm (MY), 4:30pm (WIB)
– Words by Marco Sumayao. Photo by All Is Amazing