A musical tribute to the frontliners

Lyna Mohammad

“Don’t push it, don’t push it, we can achieve it, save a life, stay at home, you better believe it, mereka tak bisa pulang, you stay home for them, bersama kita berdoa, this crisis will end.”

This is the chorus of local rap duo Guardian of Rhythm’s (GoR) song for health frontliners fighting COVID-19, Don’t Push It, which has surpassed the 10,000 viewers mark a week after it was posted on YouTube. It has received a positive response from the Brunei community.

Speaking to the Bulletin, GoR members, Aziz Bearto and Khai Tanda said the song is a tribute to the COVID-19 frontliners.

Don’t Push It was a project by Hepta Records where GoR producer Spook gave an idea to create a song as a way to show their support to the frontliners.

GoR’s core is hip hop. Their songwriting history focussed on comedy and sarcasm. However, Don’t Push It is on a more serious note and aimed at giving advice and awareness. “Spook called me and shared a video about a nurse from the isolation ward telling people to stay home, and a nurse crying saying they could not go home. It really made us emotional,” said Aziz.

Khai Tanda and Aziz Bearto in their studio. PHOTO: RAHWANI ZAHARI

“Spook got the idea to make the song from the daily media updates and press conferences, from the few initial COVID-19 cases to over 100 cases, nurses, police and even volunteers willing to sacrifice their free time, as well as the Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) pilots and cabin crew bringing home Bruneians from abroad,” said Khai.

“We felt saying sorry and thank you was hard to come by, hence it was better to make sure everyone is doing their part.”

When the COVID-19 case was reported in Brunei, GoR actually made a live feed telling people to stay home and wash their hands. After that both decided to try and reach the wider public.

Khai said they wanted to make sure what they wrote was general and they believe the way to approach youngsters like teenagers nowadays is through music.

As for the lyrics, Aziz said he and Khai made sure it was appropriate and impactful with the words ‘thank you’ to the frontliners as their main point.

On writing the song, the GoR duo explained both wrote their own verse.

The trending word from the IG Live at that time was the #Don’t Push It!.

The duo decided to use it in the chorus so that it was like a chant for listeners so they always remember.

GoR noted that, following their previous song Surat Untukmu Netizen, they have a family fan-base that includes children. “That is why we are careful with our content. We don’t want to be aggressive.

“When kids or their family members sing out the chorus of Don’t Push It! at home, it is like they are giving each other reminders.”

Once the lyrics were done, the duo headed to the studio to compile and discuss with the composer Spook. With the social distancing practice call by Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar, they limited their activity at the studio and mostly communicated via WhatsApp. The song took two weeks to make while video production was done in about nine hours.

Both Aziz and Khai didn’t know other local artistes were doing the same thing until they informed the other artistes in their WhatsApp group when the song was going to be released.

They gave moral support to each other and shared their songs.

On the day of the song’s release, GoR received many congratulatory messages, with people saying that it was a good song.

Even nurses and doctors from isolation wards sent them messages saying “thank you very much”.

They even had family and friends joining as volunteers as well as nurses and doctors at the hospital who said the song was what they needed – moral support from everyone.

When the video was shared, GoR didn’t expect it to go viral.

The duo said they are grateful that the public received the song well with their thoughts on the frontliners.

“We want to show the frontliners that, even in this industry, we are supporting them as this is all that we can do for the time being,” said Khai.

“At this difficult time, it is good to see local artistes are united. No one planned it but everyone was making their music and releasing songs to give moral support to the frontliners.”