Recording artiste and producer, Kartel Records, 2009
Diploma in Multimedia, Advertising & Broadcasting
If you want to succeed in music, you have to have that dream in you every living moment. You can’t just decide to start working on an album and think of coming up with one every two months. It has to be your dream, your goal, and your passion every day.
04 November 2009
President of Hip Hop
Written by Catalina Rembuyan
Joe Flizzow has gone a long way since Too Phat’s Anak Ayam burst unto Malaysian charts and revolutionized the music industry in the country. With the release of his solo debut album, President, and the start up of his own record label, Malaysia’s hip hop mastermind is set to take on the world. Catalina Rembuyan tells his story.
2009 has been a busy year for Joe Flizzow. The hip hop maestro, who built his name as member of duo extraordinaire Too Phat, has recently concluded a regional tour promoting his solo debut album, President. The album, which has been doing extremely well in the markets and received rave reviews from critics, is his first major project released under his very own label, Kartel Records.
“As Too Phat I was always under EMI Records. The desire to break away from them was motivated by a desire to break free from the comfort zone that a major label afforded me, and to break free and start my own business,” Joe explained.
With President winning 2 awards, one from the AIM (Anugerah Industri Muzik) Awards for Best English Album and one for SHOUT!’s Flava Awards, and songs like All Around My World soaring up Malaysian charts, Joe Flizzow’s year has been looking good. Combining this and the previous year, Joe has been making his presence known globally – he has been performing at the Asian Hip Hop Festival in Bangkok, Thailand, alongside some of the biggest names in hip hop, he performed in London and at the Sunburst Music Festival, toured Taiwan, participated in a hip hop convention at Rotterdam, and was the second Malaysian artiste to perform in a prison in Indonesia.
But the most significant step forward for Joe was the Ministry of Tourism’s appropriation of Joe as the songwriter for the Zoom Malaysia tourism campaign. “When you compare what is going on now with the state of hip hop in Malaysia ten years ago, things have really gone far. For the government to actively seek out a hip hop song to be appropriated in its campaigns – that clearly shows how they recognize the significance and influence of hip hop, and tells us that the voice of hip hop is loud and clear.”
Joe, who has recently turned thirty, has also been busy working on Kartel Records, a label that has been in the works since 2006. “We’ve got some really big plans for Kartel. We’re planning to release a compilation album of regional hip hop artistes very soon, and we’ve signed on a number of new artistes on to Kartel, including Ultimate of Teh Tarek Crew fame and some really talented hip hop artistes like Micbandits, Richard J., and Sona One, who is one of the most exciting MCs I’ve heard locally.”
I joined Limkokwing University because I knew that I wanted to be part of a creative environment, I met a few hip hop cats who were also studying in Limkokwing, including Chris Marutuana, and we formed a small clique there
For Joe Flizzow, hip hop is his second nature – if not his first. He has been rapping since he was a child, impressing people around him enough that he was signing his first autograph at ten and staging his first show at twelve. By the time he was seventeen, he was joining the alternative rock group OAG on their nationwide tour, and by his last semester at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology he was already a pop phenomenon, with Too Phat’s Plan B sitting for 60 weeks on the top spot of the RIM Charts.
“I joined Limkokwing University because I knew that I wanted to be part of a creative environment,” explained Joe, who did his studies in Advertising, Multimedia and Broadcasting at Limkokwing University. “I met a few hip hop cats who were also studying in Limkokwing, including Chris Marutuana, and we formed a small clique there.”
“I had fun as a student in Limkokwing University. I’m happy to be part of its tradition.”
When asked about how his involvement in hip hop in university days affected his life as a student, Joe confessed that the clique of hip hop cats at Limkokwing University never saw themselves as artistes trying to study but rather as students trying to rap. “I think that the mistake many artistes make is that they try to make it big is that they see themselves as full time artistes and they go into the business without anything else to fall back on and back you up,” explained Joe.
Not that Joe is advising anyone to quit their dreams. “If you want to succeed in music, you have to have that dream in you every living moment. You can’t just decide to start working on an album and think of coming up with one every two months. It has to be your dream, your goal, and your passion every day.”
“But the skills that you can get with your diploma or degree are what will provide you with something to fall back on when times go rough,” reminded Joe. What advice does Joe Flizzow give to those who wish to pursue a career in the music industry, particularly hip hop?
“Come to Kartel,” he said. “We’ll teach you what you need to know.”