With over 100 songs scattered across various platforms from radio to online streaming, 35-year-old Azizi Sabri is an artiste who has established his roots in the rap and hip hop genre even before releasing his songs on the local radio waves sometime between 2016 and 2017.
In an interview with the Bulletin, the local rapper detailed his rather random start to pursuing music and his support for other talented local artistes in various genres.
“I started writing right after I finished what was once called Form 3 (now Year 9), and my Lower Secondary Examination (PMB) in late 2002 because there was that illusion of freedom then,” said Azizi.
He also recounted what triggered the passion and said it makes him laugh to this day. “One day I had come home from a haircut and a cousin of mine was over at my house. I went into the kitchen and he was there. He had said my hairstyle looked like Eminem’s, and that just triggered the whole thing,” the rapper said with a smile.
Azizi also shared that, prior to writing verses, he would sketch a lot and ever since that trigger, his form of expression diverted from sketching to writing. “Slowly, but surely, it became a sort of addiction.”
In terms of the catalyst for that passion, Azizi said that it was discovering that he had a knack for it. “To find out you can excel in that; it became something that I just went into with tunnel vision. Everything else just fades into the background. You just constantly keep writing and pursuing your craft to master it.”
About 20 years on, he has not faltered in his form of expression as he has constantly recorded his music since 2005, which began as something he did personally for himself and to share with his friends. Now, he currently has three songs of his own on local radio stations and a number of features with other local artistes.
“Throughout the years before going public, I released music underground but I also made sure to push my name out as well. Even though I didn’t have a solid standing locally, I did manage to branch out.” Aside from radio, his songs are on various online platforms such as Soundclick, Soundcloud, YouTube and Instagram.
Talking about encouragement and support of other local artistes, Azizi explained that he has collaborated with quite a few of them, one of whom is Zed Peace who inspires him a lot, as well as others like Vandalisma, Asmai, and have also had talks with Swanz.
He has also collaborated with artistes outside the rap and hip hop genre, such as the likes of Gette on her song Penuh Dengan Mimpi produced by Nazmo, a song with Audrey where he attempted and successfully wrote a palindrome verse, and a few songs with Adilah Affendy.
“Getting to know people outside of rap and hip hop, they offer something else in return. In hip hop and rap, it mostly centres on how to write bars, punchlines and things that are technical,” said Azizi, adding that singers have educated him about vocal ranges, runs and the like.
“While it’s different, it’s also very educational and a very good thing to work with people outside of your own genre.” The local rapper also shared that he is currently working on a 10-track rap and hip hop genre Extended Play (EP). “Ever since the pandemic, it’s been difficult to get together with people to get them to record. While we can do it remotely, some are not fortunate enough to have their own recording equipment.”
Azizi emphasised on supporting the Ministry of Health’s efforts in curbing the pandemic, and said that he does not want to push or force people to come over to record as he has people to protect in his own home.
“I don’t actually have a scheduled release, but if COVID-19 decides to finally leave permanently, I can finally get people to come over to record safely, and then it would be possible to finish it by the end of this year or sometime next year.”
Having been in the music scene for the number of years he has, Azizi has adopted the attitude of saying “nay” to naysayers as he feels that no matter what a person does, there are bound to be people who will say something or show hate towards it.
Using Swanz as a recent example, Azizi noted how the fellow rapper has persevered through all the hate and is now already producing jingles and such for big companies, much like Zed Peace who has also received criticism in the past.
“They’re still flourishing,” added the local rapper. “So just keep doing what you do and what you love, and if there’s anyone out there who tells you otherwise, just keep doing it anyway.”
Speaking about his own experience, Azizi said that doing music has shaped him to become more persistent and determined with everything he does in life.
He also shared that collaboration with other artistes helps a lot in shaping a person musically, as through collaboration a person is able to socialise, whether physically or virtually, and have conversations with others, exchange ideas and perspectives.
“Of course you would have to have an open mind about things because when you have a narrow approach, it would be difficult to accept anything people say,” he added. “It’s being exposed to these people that would give you a broader understanding to hate less, if that makes sense.”