THE STAR – Malaysian rapper Sya’s life revolves around words.
By day, she is a lifestyle writer. By night, she is busy penning rap songs.
The latter began in 2018 when a friend asked her to come up with a spoken word poem, a written poem performed out loud in front of a crowd.
She remembers her friend’s reaction to the final product, “He was like, ‘Are you rapping or are you doing poetry? Because it sounds like you can rap’.”
The communications graduate was inspired and quickly got to work. She put up her first freestyle video on social media in 2019.
“I didn’t expect it to get so many views. Joe Flizzow and SonaOne liked it and people were asking for more.”
Award-winning local rappers Joe Flizzow and SonaOne also happen to be a part of Def Jam SEA, the South-East Asian division of international hip-hop label Def Jam.
Before long, Sya was signed to the record label, making her Def Jam SEA’s first female rapper.
The 23-year-old released her debut single PrettyGirlBop, featuring Singaporean rapper Yung Raja, last December.
The music video, which sees Sya bravely handling a python, has garnered some 140,000 views so far.
She talks to StarLifestyle about the inspiration behind her new song and her slithering co-star.
“The video starts out pretty girly, preppy and dainty, which symbolises my young girl side before I fully step into becoming a woman.
“And then suddenly, it transitions to me wearing all black and it’s like I’m growing into my own.
“Me being with the snake is like the person that I feel I am today which is having a sense of control. Snakes are scary for some people. But for me, I love it. It’s about showing a sense of power; like me being able to control the snake.
What was it like working with a snake?
It was the first time I properly handled a snake. And people were asking me how was I so natural with it?
The snake handler barely even had to help me out because I was that comfortable with the snake. I wasn’t afraid because I saw it as a friendly creature.”
There’s a bigger market for Malay-language music in Malaysia. Why did you decide to rap in English?
“When I started rapping, my freestyles have always been in English. For me, language has never been a barrier. It’s more about the feel of the music.
“I feel like whatever language that I’m most comfortable with, that I can carry that vibe, is way more important.”