Malaysian rapper and DJ Arabyrd told us about her journey in hip hop, her latest collab with Cee and Rider Shafique and her projects despite the Covid pandemic.
Where does the name Arabyrd come from?
A friend used to call me “Birdie” so when my manager asked me if I really wanted to use my real name for my first solo show, I said to use “Arabird”. He switched it to “Arabyrd” because the “y” looked better with the font they were using for the flyer.
How and when were you introduced to hip hop?
1997 when kids at my school were carving the Wu-Tang logo on their desks. Heard “Wu-Tang Forever” and the rest was history.
How did you start rapping?
After I got my first Tupac cassette. He taught me poetry and so I applied my writing to music. I’ve always loved writing and grew up in a family who loved music. I can’t sing to save my life so I rapped.
If someone wants to discover your music, which track would you advise them to listen to first and why?
Byrdkick produced by Stereotyp. Hardest track I’ve ever done and my alter ego BEAMS on that bop. If you see me on stage performing it, it’s a whole ass “Arabyrd experience”.
You just released the track Worldwide with Cee and dub artist Rider Shafique. How did you two meet and work on this project?
Through Cee. Cee and I were signed to Crunchtime Records based in Vienna. He sent me the beat after 10 years of our friendship,let me listen to Rider’s work and asked me to jump on the track. I was hella gassed.
You’re also a DJ and part of the duo Twinkies along with DJ Nadia. How does deejaying influence your songwriting and rap?
I can’t say it does. I think I’m an alter ego master.
You worked with several other Malaysian female rappers, including Sophia Liana and Hullera on the track Hal. Why do you think it is important for women to work together?
Foundations are stronger when you build together. Voices are louder when spoken together.
Do you consider yourself a feminist? If so, how would you define your own feminism?
No, I don’t.
Who are your female role models?
My late grandmother.
What are your upcoming projects? How did the coronavirus pandemic impact on your activity?
I’ve recently learned how to write in Malaysian and I’m focused on exploring that with local producers. The pandemic really gave me time for myself, time to breathe and dig deep into who Arabyrd is. Although I miss performing for crowds so bad, I am thankful for the things I’ve learnt.
What do you think about Madame Rap? What should be changed or improved?
I’ve discovered a whole lotta crazy emcees on Madame Rap and it motivates me. Be dope to have lyrics and translations on your posts.