Fresh-faced and decked out in the new Nike x Fear of God apparel collection, Fariz Jabba exuded every bit of the energy and drive that’s made him a household name as he spoke to us about his music career. Fariz’s journey began on social media, where he dropped viral freestyle rap videos that eventually landed him a spot to showcase his talent on Joe Flizzow’s 16 Baris. Within the space of a year, Fariz went on to establish himself as one of Singapore’s hottest commodities in music with his wildly successful debut single Ape Sia, which garnered over a million views on Youtube.
“The first hundred thousand views felt nicer than the one million. It felt real. But when it reached over a million, I was like ‘Okay, statement made’. I still love the fact that I’m underground and I’m not oversaturated in the scene. I’m not the most important person in the world. But I’m trying to make myself important enough to make money so that I can affect the world.”
For a lot of people, Fariz’s remarkable success seems staggeringly fast. But the rapper has been working on his dream since he was 16 years old. “There was a lot of preparation involved for me to become a rapper. I learned hip-hop by myself. I wrote my own textbook on what hip-hop is in school. But rap always interested me because of its power and importance. As a rapper, you’re the prophet – the guy that echos the message to everybody. In a sense, a rapper is responsible for the people of the streets and the culture.“
Fariz credits his older brother, Singaporean comedian Fakkah Fuzz, for his ascent from wannabe to potentially successful rapper, by providing the guidance he needed to kickstart his career. He also lives by his guidebook – notes he’s written to himself for a constant source of inspiration and motivation – where the first thing he wrote was Tupac Shakur’s “Top Ten Rules for Success”. He added, “At the bottom of the page, I wrote ‘Nobody will do it unless it’s you. You are the future.’ When I’m not in my zone, this is where I look to for inspiration. It’s a self-growth book but it enhances my rap.”
Despite being busy performing at music festivals all over Singapore and KL last year, Fariz came out with a brand-new single in 2019 titled Masa, 8 months after Ape Sia. Instead of sticking to his familiar sound of rap, Fariz went for the unexpected. His usual edgy bars and flow disappear in this new musical reinvention. Masa is a completely different sound – an R&B track accompanied with a music video that sees Fariz croon and dance in a 90s throwback setting. Call it a brave move if you like, but for Fariz, it was also a clear display of his desire to develop as an artist.
“I’m the kind of guy that cannot rest until you know my full potential. Take my single cover art for example – it’s a silhouette of me with stars inside. It basically signifies that I’m deeper than what I seem. I’m not just a rapper. It’s suggesting that there’s something in me that begs the question, ‘What else?’ And I’m not slowing down until I can show the different sides of me… Masa is giving me the visibility I couldn’t achieve from rapping. And I do what I feel is right at the moment. If I live by your comments, I will die by your criticisms.”
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Equipped with raw all-round talent and a platform to inspire more than just his social media following, Fariz desires to open the door for many more aspiring artists and shed light on the reality of becoming a music artist. “A lot of people think that I don’t like these new Instagram rappers that are coming out. I have no idea why. Isn’t this exactly what we wanted? We want the community to grow. And I hope to inspire people to understand that we are a community, we shouldn’t be selfish and we should all learn and grow at the same pace… People don’t understand how tough it is to be an artist. The struggle is trying to find a system to organize the chaos. But you also have to learn to be the best version of yourself.”
Regarding his endgame, Fariz dreams of going international, but he also knows how much work he has to put in to realize that ambition. “I just want to take everything to the next level. Visibility – next level; style – next level; flow – next level.” And with Masa, Fariz proved that he does not fear making bold moves to further his music career and identity on his own terms. “The point is to just keep working and growing. I want to broaden my work to the world. There must be some way that I can do this.” Only time will tell. But given his meteoric rise so far, we won’t be surprised to see Fariz tasting success well beyond our region.
Keep up with Fariz Jabba on Instagram for a glimpse into his music, his style and new things coming up.