We spoke with the artists of IMC Live Global’s AL!VE: Volume 6

Ahead of their show this weekend, we interviewed THELIONCITYBOY, Fariz Jabba, and Mediocre Haircut Crew (MHC) to ask them more about their music, how they got into the industry, what they’ve been up to, and of course, what we can look forward to this Saturday.

Homegrown rapper, producer and songwriter THELIONCITYBOY (aka Kevin Lester) is always constantly ready to represent his city, shining a spotlight (through his songs) on Singaporean stories.

His song ‘YAYA’ (feat. Benjamin Kheng) appeared on Spotify Singapore’s Viral 50 Chart as well as on the radio in Singapore. It is currently standing at 1.2 millions streams.

His latest track ‘Buang Suay, unveiled just a month ago, and which also features Zamaera and Alan D currently stands at over 100k streams. This is also THELIONCITYBOY’s first release since his quarantine project, ‘Circus Breaker’, which he dropped in August.

A rapper and singer from the neighbourhood of Geylang Serai, Fariz Jabba started his career by posting home videos of short raps and remixes that went viral on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook as he blends both hip hop and R&B.

His most watched video, ‘Kunci Gang’ has close to 200k views, while his song ‘Masa’ has hit over 3 million streams to date. Last month, Fariz contributed ‘Dari Sini’ to the ‘One 65’ EP. The song is close to hitting 150k streams.

Comprising members OmarKENOBI, MickeyLEANO and DaniKIDDO, Mediocre Haircut Crew was formed – named after their bad hairdos at the time. Influenced by 1990s hip hop and a wide range of alternative music, the boys always deliver honest lyrics and never shy away from speaking their minds.

The trio aim to please and entertain with their eclectic mix of hip-hop beats and eccentric genre bending rhythms.

Known for their classic numbers such as ‘Lose Your Love’ and ‘WaNNaBES’, the group recently dropped their ‘MHC Mixtape’ album. Last year, OmarKENOBI also collaborated with Fariz on the single ‘Kalah’.

A power-packed Hip Hop evening featuring Singapore’s all-star rapper line-up awaits us this Saturday.

But before that, let us find out a little more about the talented artists taking to the stage at Capitol Theatre!

AL365: : Hi guys, Vanessa here from AsiaLive365. Thank you for taking the time to have this interview with us. We’re seeing a lot of music projects from everyone in 2020. A mixtape/album, an EP and new singles. What was it like working on these albeit the restrictions of “lockdown” and safe distancing, and what’s in the pipeline for you right now?

THELIONCITYBOY: I’m working on new music for 2021 and trying to keep it under wraps or just not tease anything on my Instagram. Right now, I’m just so grateful to step on a stage again with my team.

Fariz Jabba: I’m in the midst of making my new EP coming out this year. I feel that the lockdown just drove my energy even more and I feel more motivated to create something magical. This year is going to be a good one. Trust.

Mediocre Haircut Crew: The lockdown wasn’t about pursuing music, it was more about finding comfort in being alone and working on ourselves individually. We still kept in contact but it was never fuelled by music. So we didn’t actually make any tracks during lockdown. The mixtape we released was a collection of unreleased songs we wanted to see the light of day. There’s nothing much for us in the pipeline, we’re taking it slow for now and we’re focused on other things that make us happy.

AL365: If you could pick a song from your entire repertoire of music to epitomise you as a musician – to someone who has not heard your music before, what song would show “you”?

THELIONCITYBOY: That’s a tough one. Off top… It’s probably going to be Buang Suay. I love the flow on that one and it was such a collaborative effort with the producer mingaling, Zamaera and Alan D, that I hope people remember me as someone who goes out of my comfort zone by working with different artists.

Fariz: My song titled “Masa”. I don’t know, I feel so close to this song as if I pulled it out of my heart as I made it with my producer, Flightsch. Everything about it, the music video, the dance choreography, the lyrics, the beat. Aesthetically? You name it. Truly my favorite project out so far.

MHC: How About Us from the MHC EP is a song that we think really showcases our individual flair.

AL365: Tell us more about your music journey so far. For instance, when was the first moment that you decided to become a musician/hip-hop artist, who/what inspired you to do so and who would you say were your music influences growing up?

THELIONCITYBOY: I was lucky to be part of a talent development project in LA for a while. Being out there really pushed me to get better, present myself better and just dream further. Coming back home when that was done, I was sure of it – I was going to change my rap name to THELIONCITYBOY and at the same time, there was more clarity in my delivery and messaging. I felt so empowered as an artist, coming back from that 1 month of learning. I felt more sure to take on this journey.

Gotta be… a mix of Eminem, Michael Jackson, Musiq Soulchild, The Roots and No Limit Records.

Fariz: I’ve always been interested in music since I was a kid. For some reason I always wanted to be in the limelight, either dancing or singing. Rap came a bit later when my brother let me listen and watch music videos from the 90s and 2000s. Tupac, Eminem, Ludacris, Biggie Smalls, Akon, Chris Brown, Michael Jackson, Pharrel Williams, to name a few. But those were truly the early inspirations. I decided at around 20 years old, I quit my good paying job (not recommended) to pursue music. I didn’t know why I did it. I was broke and lost a lot of weight and ate scraps for a couple years, hustling to be a successful artist. I just believed and knew success was going to happen.

MHC: We were all really into church at one point of time so naturally we gravitated towards gospel music and that took us down a hole. Never looked back since.

AL365: What is something someone has said to you along your music journey that you will never forget, and what words of encouragement would you yourself give to someone just starting out on the road of a music career?

THELIONCITYBOY: Akeem Jahat always reminds me to be honest in my writing. To tell people my story. I almost hear him say that every time I write a verse.

Fariz: Don’t do it if you can’t stay hungry for 20 years.

MHC: Fauxe said that we’re the best rappers he’s ever met and that has led us down a spiral of an egocentric trip that has lasted a lifetime. Do it because you have fun and you love it.

AL365: Who’s on your music playlist right now?

THELIONCITYBOY: Goldlink, 6lack, Marc E Bassy.

Fariz: Frank Ocean, Gabor Szabo, Rejjie Snow, MF Doom, Kali Uchis, Bryson Tiller, Drake, Travis Scott, Kanye West.

MHC: Slowthai, sweet trip, The Avalanches.

AL365: 2020 has been a strange time for everyone. In spite of this, what are you most grateful for (musically or otherwise) in 2020, and what are your hopes for 2021?

THELIONCITYBOY: I don’t think there are any highlights in 2020. It was such a tough year to adjust and adapt but I’m definitely grateful that I had my family close to me during that period.

Fariz: I’m grateful for my room. I’m grateful for the roof over my head. I’m grateful for my family. I’m grateful for my health.

MHC: Omar came back and we released the MHC mixtape. We hope to stay friends.

AL365: 2020 has also taught many of us to slow down and ReDiscover Singapore. So… what have you rediscovered about Singapore lately?

THELIONCITYBOY: That there are amazing small businesses we should support. I’m gonna check out a few walking tours.

Fariz: Walking around Singapore feels a little bit more sentimental because I have this inkling to take care of this place. The world is in shambles and I feel that I need to protect what we have.

MHC: We’ve discovered this dope halal western stall in a kopitiam in Geylang called Hazz Grill. They’ve got some of the best burgers, pastas and wings in town.

AL365: What is one thing that you still miss from before COVID-19? (e.g. Touring, filming, festivals, concerts)

THELIONCITYBOY: Definitely music festivals. I miss the energy of people celebrating without fear or second guessing.

Fariz: Travelling and going to concerts. Green Day cancelled their tour to Singapore. I legitimately got so upset.

MHC: TRAVEL

AL365: What is the most memorable gig that you went to (as an audience or artist)?

THELIONCITYBOY: In 2019 I was in Barcelona for Primavera Festival and it was such an amazing spiritual experience. Erykah Badu, Nas, Loyle Carner, Solange, Robyn, Lizzo, Future… there was so much more. The Catalans really know how to party and of course everyone from around the world peppered the festival and together made for the best festival I’ve ever been to in my life.

Fariz: Avenged Sevenfold. I went with my girlfriend at that time and we had the most exceptional time. Cried several times. 10/10 would do it again.

MHC: The Story So Far, Laneway 2016, Men I Trust (Melbourne).

AL365: Now that live shows are slowly coming back, what are you most excited about for Saturday’s show and what can we expect from AL!VE VOL 6?

THELIONCITYBOY: I’ve had to reimagine my live show and I’m stoked to bring a more theatrical version.

Fariz: I am excited for people to see my growth as an artist. I’m grateful for this opportunity to be able to perform again. I’ll perform like it’s my last show ever. We’d never know if we would ever have a chance to do this again. So it’s now or never.

MHC: We’re excited to be on stage again, to hear the people in the crowd singing along and being able to rock the stage with one of our really great friends Adir Kaisan of the Cosmic Owls.

AL365: Thanks again and we look forward to seeing everyone on 30 January!

Fariz Jabba, Mediocre Haircut Crew, and THELIONCITYBOY will perform live at Capitol Theatre on 30 January 2021 at 8pm. Tickets can be purchased via SISTIC.

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