No one in my family is musically inclined. I half suspect we’re all tone deaf, even, judging by how none of us can strum a guitar or whistle a tune. What we do have in common, however, is a deep and profound love for music (except my father, but to be fair it’s not exactly easy to enjoy music when one is on a peacekeeping mission in Somalia). We all enjoy different genres – my sister favours laid-back EDM and R&B from the 90s like Jamiroquai and Boyz II Men, the older of my two brothers prefers the top 40 on local airwaves while the other has a penchant for obscure rock and pop bands like The Hush Sound and Of Mice And Men, and my mother is a stalwart fan of older Indonesian music from the 80s and beyond. Me, I like a little bit of everything from Slipknot and Mumford And Sons to Árstíðir and Bangtan.
My taste in music aside, it surprises me that a lot of my generation aren’t familiar with music from the turn of the millennium. I’m not even talking about groups like Spice Girls or ABBA; just popular acts like N*SYNC and No Doubt. By the time I was six years old I was singing about how one call changed Backstreet Boys’ destiny and how we should all rise like Blue so emotionally decreed.
Six years old. I sang about cheating on my girlfriend and being cheated on by my girlfriend when I was six years old (and one wonders why I’m so cynically single). These songs were my jam when I was kid. I grew up with these guys; they were my goddamn childhood, along with System Of A Down and Hoobastank. Point is, I grew up listening to music. I grew up listening to what was popular at the time, so it almost doesn’t make sense that someone of my age range wouldn’t be familiar with them.
Right, so maybe not everyone had access to CD players and MTV back then. That’s fair. But it’s baffling when people my age tell me that they’ve never heard of Too Phat.
I mean seriously. Too Phat, man.
Arguably the greatest in Malaysian hip hop back in the 00’s, Too Phat embraced South-eastern Asian influences and incorporated them into their own brand of hip hop, spitting fire in both English and Malay. They were proof that hip hop is as diverse as it is historical, that you didn’t have to emulate gangsta rappers from the West to be hip hop.
And none of my friends had any idea who Too Phat was.
To say I was horrified would be an understatement. I remember a few months back, during orientation week: Poetic Ammo’s Who Be The Playa was playing on the TV and I hadn’t heard it in so long, it took me a while to remember who the artist was. I kept motioning at the TV and asking the rest of my group if they remembered the song, but they said no. After a while, it clicked into place and I yelled out “Poetic Ammo!” in exuberance over finally recalling the name. They looked at me like I was insane.
“You guys honestly don’t know who Poetic Ammo is?”
They all shook their heads mutely.
“Poetic Ammo! They were big back in the early ’00s. You must’ve heard of them before.”
Still shook their heads no.
These were my generation, mind you. They would’ve been in primary school in the early ’00s. Who Be The Playa was everywhere on the radio back then.
Okay, so maybe Poetic Ammo rapped in English, and they didn’t listen to English songs. Fine. I asked them if they knew Too Phat. They said no. Ruffedge and VE? No. M. Nasir? No.
M. NASIR. I swoon.
Is it fair to call it a generation gap? I’m talking as if these guys were ten years younger than me but they’re not. They’re my age, give or take a year or so, but it feels like we’re so far apart when it comes to music. We were born in the same decade but god it’s as if we’re generations apart, as if I’m a baby boomer and they’re beyond Gen Z.
I do suppose I have my family to thank for that. I told you we’re all super fond of music, and if it weren’t for my siblings pushing their music tastes on me I wouldn’t so privy to music back then and now. It still does make me wonder why so many of my generation aren’t aware of the excellence that was the Malaysian music scene at the turn of the millennium, though. It just doesn’t make sense.
Do you have any artists that you remember fondly from the early 2000s? Let me know in the comments.
DAILY FOOD LOG
I don’t know why but the cook at my college cafeteria always cooks the vegetables to mushy perfection in their kuey tiow kungfu and it’s brilliant. I love overcooked vegetables. Especially overcooked green vegetables.
Water intake: more than 1 liter
Fruit intake: a thick slice of papaya
Vegetable intake: everything in my kuey tiow kungfu, which was A LOT.
As a parting gift, here’s a song everyone should have in their playlist. TERHANGAT DI PASARAN, I TELL YOU.