Invasian Magazine Hong Kong : Bridging Gaps – Jogja Hip Hop Foundation
By merging the classical verses of Javanese poetry and the hypnoticrhythms of gamelan music to the hooks and beats of western hip hop, JHF stand as a staple of lndoensia’s bossoming hip hop culture.
The group was founded in 2003 by Kill the DJ (AKA Marzuki “Zuki” Mohammad), in Yogyakarta, an epicenter of Javanese culture from which the group’s name is derived. Alongside Kill The DJ is Jahanam, one of the most popular crews in Indonesia today, comprised of Balance and Mamok. The final piece of the collective is Rotra, a pioneering group of Javanese hip hop, formed by Ki Ageng Gantas and Rajapati. Together, the group has tapped into the deep well of Javanese culture and crafted a distinctrve sound that has blasted JHF into the international spotlight.
At the root of JHF’s success is their ability to render aspects of Javanese culture in a fresh light and sketch a portrait of life in Yogyakarta through song and verse. Their lyrics reflect a love for the traditional verses of Javanese poetry and utilize anclent mantras and spells. By sampling Gamelan music, a purely lndonesian genre that relies heavily on metallophones, xylophones, drums, bongos flutes, and strings, they achieve a distinctive crunch to their beats. Even the art of shadow play, where puppets dance across a translucent screen to game an music, is reflected in the organic nature of their freestyling. Yogyakarta holds no shortage of public performances and dances using these traditional art forms, which provides the collective with a perpetually replenishing stream of inspiration and material. In fact, most of their music videos are comprised of splices from various local performances.
JHF has, as a result, masterminded a sound unlike any other by restoring the cultural treasures of Java and fitting them the modern context of hip hop.
JHF has stood at the forefront of Javanese hip hop not only because of thelr incredible sound, but because of the subjects that they cover.
Their attention to political, cultural, and social issues pushes them to write fiercely relevant music that has inspired change in their community.
For example, some of their songs have evolved into slogans against corruption in Indonesia and can be heard at public demonstrations and political rallies.
Poverty, corruption, superficiality, youth, and the direction of art are all topics that JHF tackles.
Therefore, their music is never short of being socially-conscious, politically-critical, and traditionally-infused. These qualities account for their position as a leaders of lndonesian hip hop.
Yogyakarta birthed JHF and the group has a massive following in Indonesia but they have exploded upon the international stage as well.
During 2012, they toured across ten cities in the United States, as well as various other countries around Asia. They’re continuing to collaborate with other
international artists and will be seeking more shows abroad in the future.
lf hip hop was ever seen as a bridge between people across the world, between yesterday and today, and between ideas and change, look towards the Jogja Hip Hop Foundation as vanguards of this spirit.
From crumbling books, dusty with ancient mantras, to the pulse of gamelan rhythms drifting through villages, they have framed the moments that compose life in Yogyakarta and spread it across the world.
Text by : Aaron Lam (Invasian Magazine)