Up in raps – Ashtin

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There is nothing more meaningful than the pages of one’s own life, many say. And what better way to get your story and your voice heard through the magnificent power of music? This rapper signed under KIL (Keep It Local) Entertainment invited us into the sanctuary of his soul through his music, and we dove deeper into his psyche.

 

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Ashtin. I do a lot of music, and I have an EP coming out soon. I try to make my work fun – my passion is music, and I’ve made that into my life’s work. I do a lot of club emceeing too, which is totally a different ball game from normal emceeing, but it’s really something I like to do. I have close to 6 years experience doing that. I’ve made that into one of my profession.

 

What would you say your influences for writing songs are?

The whole element of hip-hop, and watching the greats like Tupac and Biggie Smalls. I started off in the era of baggy pants and when 50 Cent was big. I studied hip-hop and realized there is knowledge to be attained before you write rap. There is a skill set that has to be developed in order to write rhymes. Ever since then, I tried to practice to get my song writing even better. Y’know how in rap, you have to do punchlines, and metaphors and all that? I’m always growing in terms of that.

 

What do you usually write about in your songs?

I tend to write about my life story in my music, being a musician here and all. That’s why I don’t have a stage name; I just use my real one. I feel that if you’re talking about yourself, you might as well use your real name. I also collaborate with other producers. For me, I work a lot with composers when I get into the studio; I try to give my two cents and try to form a beat as well.

 

Who would you most desire to collaborate with?

I’d say J Cole. He’s an inspiration to me because he has the same ideology of making music about his struggles and himself. I would really love to just have a conversation with him, and get into his mind and see how he does things. He’s the artist who inspires me the most.

 

Do you have any rituals or practices before you perform?

I would recite the verses and do it acapella, just to get myself in the mood before I get on stage.

 

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Do you usually write your lyrics beforehand? Are you able to spontaneously rap?

It depends, actually. When it comes to my own songs, I’ll take the time to carefully think of the lyrics, as I want to send a clear message. But if it’s a jam session, then I can let loose and just let it flow.

 

What’s your ultimate dream as a rapper?

To be heard, man. *laughs* To gain more audiences both locally and internationally, and to get my name out there.

 

Where do you see yourself in the future?

Hopefully, I’ll be able to land a place as one of the greats in music and hip-hop. It’s a long shot, but I think it’s really possible if I keep the hard work going. If there were a list of top 10 rappers in Malaysia, I hope to be one of it too.

 

What motivated you to start rapping in the first place?

I think it was escapism that started everything off. When I was a kid, I’d just shut everything off and focus on the music. So I think that triggered me to want to start making music. Also because I’ve always liked reading and poetry – when it comes to the technicality of having to rhyme and sync to the music,  I was intrigued and I wanted to master it. Ever since then, I’ve been trying to pick up tricks of how to do it.

 

Is the competition tough for rappers?

Hip-hop and rap is a really competitive sport. That’s why there’s rap battles all around. I actually started off battling first – I joined a lot of freestyle and hip-hop battles when I first started out. But at the end of the day, healthy competition only makes you better. Sometimes you’d just battle for fun, y’know? Just exchange rhymes and lines.

 

When it gets tough, how do keep yourself motivated to keep going on?

Just gotta keep the momentum going, man. That’s what I try to do to keep myself going.

 

Do you have a favorite song? How about your favorite song that you’ve written?

My all-time favorite song would be Hit ‘Em Up by Tupac, because that made me want to start my journey. My favorite song that I wrote is ‘Shine’. It’s about my story and making it into history. Another one is ‘All The Way’, produced by Roshan Jamrock of K-Town clan.

 

Any advice for potential rappers who’re looking to start out?

If you’re gonna go, then you should go all the way. Don’t stop in the middle, and try not to get discouraged.

 

Christopher Yee

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Christopher Yee

Chris is a frequent traveller of worlds beyond the screen, and has been to places like Skyrim and Ferelden more times than he can count. When not indulging in escapism, he enjoys annoying the neighbours with his guitar and pondering the answers to life's great questions; like the meaning of life, and what to have for lunch.

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