Last week, we celebrated the latest songs from the canon of Made In Singapore music to reach the ether. Now, we dig deeper into our national anthems with a critical eye. Read our review of the latest songs by Daniel Sid, HubbaBubbas and Evanturetime, Serene Koong, Richard Jansen, P_NEDA and Matty Judah, Haziman and Ca$hie$h, Amthakid, shy-c, and Ębønÿ.
Daniel Sid – ‘bluer skies’
Daniel Sid’s voice is a blessing unto himself and the listener. It has an urgent, bleeding-heart emotive power that imbues any instrumental with a heartbreaking immediacy that is impossible to not give yourself to. Very few musicians posses this kind of self-defining singularity. Very few can bless the dimensions of a song just by showing up.
‘bluer skies’ fits into the conventional understanding of pop as an umbrella term with a wide blast radius. Hybridising folk and pop a la Of Monsters and Men, Sid expands the emotional vernacular of each as much he draws from their canons for guidance. And while its trajectory – progressing from a pulsing beat to an ethereal swoon of violins and choral vocals – testifies that it was made for catharsis, what reverberates beyond its runtime is the raw power of Sid’s soulful and supplicating voice, raspy, as if scarred by its own sincerity.
Richard Jansen – ‘4 LYFE’
Finding the one is one of those all-consuming life goals that seem almost impossible. But Richard Jansen isn’t a hopeless romantic. On his latest single, a pean to his beloved, he raps like he means it: “I got the one / Y’all keep on tripping / Messing with twos and threes”.
Jansen has always hewn to a particularly more extroverted strain of rap, which is why ‘4 LYFE’ isn’t a straight-up love letter. With his slick writing, Jansen flexes just as much as he tosses roses on the feet of his beloved. The claim, ‘I came in late but I left with the W’, is as important to the narrative as the promise, “Had to a put a ring on it… / Imma do this 4 LYFE’.
Over and above its heartfelt core, this song will find longevity in the fact that it can be impactful anywhere: In the club, in your room or in your headphones, blocking out the world.
P_NEDA – ‘Juliet’
P_NEDA’s deep, throaty drawl is one of the best things about Made In Singapore hip-hop. This time, with newcomer Matty Judah in tow, he fuses two disparate narrative arcs together in a song that is a monument to 4am trap music, perfect for when the drinks have well taken hold and your more daring side comes to the forefront of your psyche.
The beat is skittering and bassy but an irreverent flute-sounding synth reels it in, slowing down and widening its space, so both rappers have ample room and time to work with. Like YG’s ‘Go Loko’, ‘Juliet’ is atmospheric but earthy. The tough-talking bars of both rappers embed themselves in the grooves perfectly. ‘Boy, I doubt it that you’re bout it’ and ‘I want all the smoke / Y’all do nothing aside from vaping’ are amongst the most quotable of the lot.
There’s a girl, Juliet, at the centre of all this. But she functions more for the reflection and the confessional mode of disclosure that happens here – she’s present as a symbolic reminder that in this cynical world, love still has a place.
HubbaBubbas – ‘Sunset In My Pocket ft. Evanturetime’
Singaporean a cappella heroes HubbaBubbas have teamed up with producer extraordinaire Evanturetime for their latest single, ‘Sunset In My Pocket’. A cheery and upbeat tune, the track features the classic joyful themes we’ve come to expect from the trio, while also showing off their profound strength at songwriting. Co-written and produced by Evanturetime, ‘Sunset In My Pocket’ is artfully layered with guitar chords and bass drums, that add texture to the otherwise a cappella track without taking anything away from the band’s main selling point.
Amthakid – ‘Well ft. P_NEDA’
Amthekid’s link up with P_NEDA is a brilliant testimony for Singaporean rap.
The single starts off slow, progressively building as P_NEDA starts things off with the track’s catchy chorus, as trap hi-hats and a wall of bass joins the fray. Soon after, Amthakid switches things up with a slick Malay verse that displays immaculate flow and delivery. Even if you don’t understand the language, it’s hard the kinetic bounce of his flow. If you’re familiar with P_NEDA’s previous work, you already know what to expect: Dark themes and a brutal delivery that sets you reeling all the way.
This pairing is one of a kind.
shy-c – ‘Endless Night’
Singapore-born Sydney-based producer shy-c may not be a familiar name in the local music circuit, but that’s about to change with the recent release of his single, ‘Endless Night’. Combining his love for guitar-driven music and electronic sounds, shy-c’s ‘Endless Night’ is an amalgamation of his idols’ sounds, which feels fresh from his reinvention. The soft twangs of electric guitar, and the festering electronics that lie underneath, create an ethereal and spacey sound that breathes new life into both worlds. England has Bonobo, Holland has San Holo and Singapore has shy-c.
Serene Koong – ‘Save Me From Myself (Theme Song for “KIN”)’
“So here we are, pretenders with a fantasy / And the games we play along”.
There comes a time in everyone’s lives when one’s mind is the enemy, when one can’t help but feel like nothing seems to be going right. As a form of self-defence against apathy and lethargy, it is not uncommon that humans put on a facade of joy and smiles – although that does nothing to stop the all-consuming feeling of emptiness from seeping into one’s soul.
‘Save Me From Myself’ is a simple piano ballad that perfectly illustrates the all-too-real battle that many undergo on a daily basis. Through this song, Serene talks about her own experiences grappling with her inner demons, and listeners can’t help but feel the raw melancholy projected through her powerful voice.
Haziman (ft. Ca$hie$h, RMP Zan) – ‘WHAT YOU LIKE!’
The latest offering from Haziman sees the independent hip-hop artist further exploring the mellow, Auto-Tune-drenched sound that spans his previous few releases. The song features Ca$hie$h and RMP Zan, with a constant catchy electronic melody reminiscent of chimes laid over a snappy trap beat while manipulated vocals take centre-stage.
The subject matter of this song is not an uncommon one – he was a boy, she was a girl, he wants her to come over to spend time together. The catchy chorus – “I can get you what you like, girl / Come and spend the night, girl / We can hit this right, oh yeah yeah” – clearly illustrates the aforementioned trope, on which Haziman and co. add their own electronic spin.
Ębønÿ – ‘HOT BANDITO’
“Success on my mind / I can do this shit blind / Should serve life in prison / Way I do it, this a crime”.
The title of this song can be referring to either the outlaw or the potato wedges; but Ębønÿ probably means the former. The rapper returns with a strong statement – he is good at what he does, he knows that he is good at what he does, and he does it like how a seasoned veteran would know his craft.
Ębønÿ, whose real name is Aaron King, tells his rivals to step aside and make way for the king – “King in my name / Now that’s royalty / Got a crown in my brain / Now wait and see.” Through ‘HOT BANDITO’, Ębønÿ lays claim to the throne that all other rappers vie for, and he us determined to take it for himself no matter what. From start to finish, his conviction is palpable.