Indonesian hip-hop band Mukarakat performing in South Jakarta in 2019. Photo by William Yanko.

In the 80s and 90s, the influence of hip-hop in the music industry and urban cultures of Indonesia was unmistakable. One of the first nationally successful rappers in Indonesia was Iwa K, with his hit Bebas. Around the same time, legendary hip-hop band Homicide, led by Heri “Ucok” Sutresna (aka Morgue Vanguard), gained a devoted following for its socially conscious, political music. Recently, artists like Young Lex and Rich Brian have attracted massive audiences.

How do Indonesian hip-hop artists tackle social and political issues in their music? How do the different hip-hop scenes, in Bandung and Yogyakarta, for example, differ in their approach to social and political themes? How do issues of ethnicity, sexism and masculinity influence hip-hop lyrics in Indonesia?

In this week’s Talking Indonesia podcast, Tito Ambyo explores these issues and more with William Yanko, PhD candidate with the Digital Ethnographic Research Centre at RMIT University. William is writing up his thesis based on fieldwork with hip-hop artists from across Indonesia. His research criticises the often one-dimensional view of Indonesian hip-hop by other scholars, arguing that the hip-hop world in Indonesia is very diverse and encompasses multiple agendas and styles.

In 2022, the Talking Indonesia podcast is co-hosted by Tito Ambyo from RMIT, Dr Dave McRae from the University of Melbourne’s Asia Institute, Dr Jemma Purdey from Monash University, and Dr Jacqui Baker from Murdoch University.

Look out for a new Talking Indonesia podcast every fortnight. Catch up on previous episodes here, subscribe via Apple Podcasts or listen via your favourite podcasting app.

Check out the music of some of the artists discussed in the episode via the following links:

Morgue Vanguard – Kontra Muerta

Mukarakat – Rompes 

Rich Brian – Dat $tick

Young Lex – Bad Ft Awkarin



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