Altimet’s latest single Amboi is gaining a lot of traction on social media.
The song has Altimet rapping furiously about keyboard warriors, busybodies and those who try their darndest to appear well-to-do. He also gives a ‘shout-out’ to the people you know at work who comes in late and clocks out early.
He gets serious towards the end by pointing out how greed consumes people. Then there’s the colourful music video done in paper cut-out style ala South Park. Released in Nov 2016, a video clip for the song now has over one million views on YouTube.
During an interview in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, 39-year-old Altimet said Amboi came from “observing Malaysians on social media”.
“I’m not trying to criticise anyone. It’s just observations. That’s why I start the song with ‘come everybody, listen to this story’,” he explained.
One of the song’s most scathing lyric is: “Nak panggil waras susah, tak baik kalau gelar gila”, which roughly translates to “can’t call someone sane, yet it would be unkind to call this person crazy”. The 39-year-old rapper explained his somewhat sympathetic approach for the song.
“A lot of people post things on social media and without context, we just assume they might be crazy. I feel like I can’t really say that about someone because I don’t really know what is happening.”
Ultimately, he can reveal that Amboi is meant for one person.
“It’s a reminder to myself. I’m really just trying to advice myself. Of course, the song is a single now. It’s getting a lot of positive and negative engagement. That’s what we want anyway, any kind of response is good.”
Amboi is the title track from Altimet’s latest album which also features the song Seru. Now that song is a more aggressive number where Altimet calls out to other rappers, asking them to hit him back with some intelligent rhymes. Altimet said he’s still waiting to hear a response. But he’s not holding his breath.
“No, they won’t do it. We are all a passive aggressive bunch,” he said, smiling wryly.
Altimet wasn’t always this outspoken. When he first started listening to hip hop, he didn’t think of becoming a rapper. That changed when he met a few friends through the internet.
“We have a shared interest. We used to freestyle all night. I was a teenager and you got to find a place to belong. I found mine. At that time, to do hip hop in Malaysia, you needed to have a lot of self belief.”
The friends that he was talking about were Mizz Nina, DJ Fuzz and Fiquetional. Eventually, they would go on to form the hip hop group Teh Tarik Crew in 1999. They took the local music scene by storm with the release of debut album How’s The Level in 2002. Altimet also remembered having to keep his music career a secret from his parents who wanted him to have a regular dayjob.
“There was a time where a lot of social ills among youths were blamed on local hip hop culture. So Teh Tarik Crew was mentioned as one of these negative influences. So my dad was telling us at dinner to not listen to this Teh Tarik Crew. My brothers were looking at me… laughing,” he shared.When Teh Tarik Crew disbanded in 2007, Altimet went solo. His parents were still not OK with his career choice and he understood why.
“I figured they just want their child to work at something that will give them a steady income. That was their concern. I have to make sure that it won’t be a concern for them anymore.”
Altimet would go on to establish a respectable career in the music scene. He kept himself busy by constantly releasing a steady stream of hit songs such as Kalau Aku Kaya, Kotarayaku and Belantara Konkrit. He also achieved critical success when he won the Anugerah Industri Muzik for Best Hip Hop song in December last year. His winning number Janji with Takahara Suiko on vocals is a religious track inspired by stories about a prophet. So much for hip hop being a so-called negative influence, huh? He was lost for words when asked about the AIM win.
“You know, I’ve passed the stage where I felt the need for that recognition. Back when I was in Teh Tarik Crew, of course I needed it. But over the years, I’ve learnt that satisfaction doesn’t come from that.”Ultimately, Altimet wants to keep doing what he does best and be better at it.
“All my trophies are at my mum’s house. I don’t keep any in my place because I don’t want to look at it and be complacent. I would start to think that I’m good enough.”