Local hip-hop artiste SonaOne went on vacation with three strangers and came back with three friends.
Reality series The Ultimate BROcation sees four South-East Asian celebrities – Filipino pop and R&B star Billy Crawford, Thai radio and TV host PK, Singaporean chef Bjorn Shen and SonaOne – take a five-day, all-expenses-paid trip to Hong Kong.
“Anybody who’s put in a situation they’re uncomfortable with, they always have a bit of a guard (up) at first,” SonaOne recalls meeting the rest of the guys for the first time.
“But we bonded immediately because the first activity that we did together was martial arts.”
Yes, from the get-go, the guys are thrown into the deep end with martial arts lessons courtesy of Hong Kong actor Philip Ng, who hosted the group on their first day on his home turf. “It was a great way to break the ice,” adds SonaOne at a press event promoting the show.
In fact, there were quite a number of adrenaline-pumping activities throughout the vacation including flyboarding and drift racing.
SonaOne says one of the most exciting moments was when the group, divided into pairs, had to race to the top of Victoria Peak: “One team had to take the public transport, meaning go up to The Peak by tram, bus or ferry, while the other team took a nice VIP executive van but they had to change the tyre along the way.”
Before you go thinking that these elaborate activities are planned by the show’s production crew, SonaOne explains that each of the guys took turns to plan one day out of the trip: “The night before, you’re given a big batch of brochures and you look through all the activities to prep for the next day. So, I don’t know what’s in store except for the day that I planned.”
But of course, some of life’s best moments aren’t planned. What started out as a shopping trip turned into an unforgettable karaoke session for SonaOne on Day Four of their adventure.
“Bjorn and I went shopping at Temple Street and we came across this aunty who was singing karaoke by the street and we were like, ‘Why don’t we join her?’ It was hilarious. We were singing to songs we’ve never heard before and aunty had some pipes on her!”
Speaking of the chemistry in the group, SonaOne admits he felt left out initially.
“You know when you’re the youngest in a group, you tend to – out of respect – just listen to what the older people have to say and not speak so much. But in the end, we ended up becoming really close to each other. The age wasn’t a factor,” says the 28-year-old rapper.
After the vacation, the guys have been keeping in touch on the phone via a group chat. SonaOne says he hopes to be able to go on vacation with the group again. One travelling companion he can definitely relate to is fellow musician Crawford.
“When we were not shooting, in the car or at the hotel, we would share ideas and talk about our current projects,” he says, adding that the trip has inspired him musically.
SonaOne, who is featured on Yuna’s latest single, Pulang, has been working on a few new songs since returning from the trip in October. The singer’s career has been on the rise since his history-making win at the Anugerah Industri Muzik (AIM) in 2014; his single No More is the first English song to win Best Song. SonaOne scored four nominations at the upcoming AIM including Best Duo/Collaboration In A Song for Go Do That with Joe Flizzow and Akeem, Best Hip-Hop Song for Hakeleh and Confirm Ah, and Best Local English Song for Firefly.
Asked if he hopes to repeat his success, the French-Malay star says: “I definitely want to bring home some kind of award but I’m not trying to aim for such a coveted award (Best Song), I wasn’t even aiming for that the last time. If it happens, I’ll be very happy. My goal is to make the best music I can and bring Malaysian music and hip-hop to an international stage.”
The Ultimate BROcation premieres Dec 14 at 9pm on KIX HD (Astro Ch 729).