I wasn’t a hip hop fan from the jump. As far as I can remember, my introduction to music came in the form of Nirvana, Hanson and Now That’s What I Call Music cassette tapes.

The first CD I had my hands on was Aqua’s Aquarium (in my defense, it was a birthday gift from an uncle). The first concert I ever attended? Savage Garden (shut up, I genuinely liked those guys). Weird times.

It wasn’t until I was 12 or 13 that hip hop music appeared on my radar by way of Eminem’s career-defining single, The Real Slim Shady.

At the time, I just thought it was funny that this white boy was taking shots at big name celebrities. Fred Durst, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Will Smith… The list went on.

One week in, and I had memorised all the words. By the second week, I had a copy of Em’s Marshall Mathers LP blasting on repeat (IN MY PARENTS’ CAR. IMAGINE THE HORROR THEY HAD TO GO THROUGH!).

The music was bold, unique, and I was intrigued to say the least. Naturally, I wanted more.

So everyday after school I’d run home to download all the hip hop tracks I could possibly find on Napster (if you have no idea what Napster is, you’re too young). At dial-up speed, mind you. I recall printing all the lyrics out and storing them in this flimsy blue plastic folder just so I could rap and sing along to my favourite jams.

One time, a classmate caught me in my zone going over my lines, and told the whole classroom she noticed me talking to myself. Word spread and from that point onwards, everybody just assumed I had lost my noodles.

School was alright, but I’d say hip hop also contributed to my learning during those formative years.

For example, it helped me expand my vocabulary (you needed a dictionary to listen to Aesop Rock, trust me). And thanks to the undying commitment of some rappers to represent where they’re from, I was able to identify the five boroughs on the New York City map at a very young age – a valuable geography lesson indeed.

A lot of my peers viewed rap as nothing more than a bunch of random words strung together: “Oh, it’s just a bunch of guys talking on a beat”.

But I always thought it was much more complex than that. I listened to a rap song and I saw flow, imagery, wordplay, metaphors, ad libs and melodies. It’s an art form, first and foremost, whether you’d like to admit it or not.

Some 15-odd years later, and hip hop still sounds as fresh as ever. I still get excited over new artistes and releases. I still exclaim “OOOH!” whenever I hear a good line. I still commit my favorite lyrics to memory. The beats and rhymes resonate with me today the same way they did when I first discovered them.

Only difference is that with the Internet, hip hop culture is becoming more and more embedded in our lives and as a result, more people are familiarising themselves with it.

Hip hop has found its way into our daily conversations and hashtags (through slang terms and phrases popularised by rappers), guest verses on countless chart topping, record-breaking hits and million-dollar endorsement deals with giant brands.
I guess even the late Biggie never thought that hip hop would take it this far.

Notorious B.I.G, aka Biggie,  may have passed away in 1997, but the hip hop scene is still uber fresh.

Notorious B.I.G, aka Biggie, may have passed away in 1997, but the hip hop scene is still uber fresh.

Jin Hackman is a rap artiste and founder of hip hop collective Raising The Bar. Follow him on Twitter at @jiniusatwork.

Tell us what you think!


Laughter is the best medicine

YouTuber Anwar Hadi has some recommendations to help you laugh in a great 2017.

Read more Like this post1

“Sorry I’m mansplaining”

Our columnist Dr Jason Leong has a message to all girls: you can be whatever you want to be!

Read more Like this post4

Taking the first step to beauty blogging

From zero to 80,000 YouTube subscribers, Emily Quak shares how she started beauty blogging.

Read more Like this post3

Do it yourself, for yourself

Our columnist learnt more about himself while attempting to pick up more DIY skills.

Read more Like this post0

Popularising ulam and kerabu

Foreign celebrity chefs are starting to popularise ulam and kerabu, dishes we sometimes take for granted.

Read more Like this post0

Life after SPM

What is really going to count eight years after SPM?

Read more Like this post0

Being a chef isn’t easy

Everyone loves to cook these days, but being a professional chef is a different deal.

Read more Like this post0

Five sweat-proof makeup tips

Our columnist beauty blogger Emily Quak shares her tips on keeping your makeup sweat-proof in this hot Chinese New Year weather.

Read more Like this post0

Trying a new roast

The Ultimate Noob agrees to do a comedy roast before realising it’s quite different from a cooking one.

Read more Like this post1

Medical nightmares

Comedian Jason Leong recalls the horrors of life as a medical student, in full technicolor detail.

Read more Like this post0

Breakin’ it down

Rapper Jin Hackman waxes lyrical over his love for hip hop.

Read more Like this post1

Natural makeup 101

Perfect your ‘no-makeup makeup’ look with the help of our beauty columnist, YouTube makeup guru Emliy Quak!

Read more Like this post0
Go top