“We like women, we respect them,” respond both hip-hop artistes Alif and SonaOne when asked why the two men have come together to release a single to empower women.
“We’re older now. We’ve lived enough to see the problems that exist and we can point them out in song. We’ve always been one to slide in messages in song but not make it sound like a campaign,” Alif continues.
The track in question, Obvious, is the first single to see Alif, formerly from hip-hop duo Sleeq, joining forces with Malay-French rapper SonaOne.
“We set out to write a song to empower women with low self-esteem. In today’s social media age, it’s a very common problem for girls, and even guys, to have,” SonaOne talks about the meaning of the song.
He explains Obvious is a commentary on our tendency to compare our lives with others on social media, which often results in us feeling inferior.
“Sometimes you’re so focused with what other people are doing, you forget to look at what’s right in front of you, and that what you have is good.”
Obvious is the lead single off Alif and SonaOne’s 15-track English and Malay-language joint album Detail, due for release next year.
With such an extensive collaborative effort between the two, do Alif and SonaOne fear they would come to be known as a duo?
“People may get the wrong idea, it’s fine. It’s very easy to fall in the category of a duo. But it’s more of a duet album, than a duo album. So you get SonaOne’s sound, you get Alif’s sound – nothing is diluted.”
Besides being rappers, both Alif and SonaOne write and produce tracks for other artistes. They talk about what it’s like producing an album for themselves this time round.
“Whatever we have wanted to do in music, we did it because we are our own clients,” Alif enthuses.
SonaOne chimes in: “This is an avenue to showcase ourselves as musicians and what we are really into and what we want to put out.”
The boys also talk about writing most of the songs on the album in English. They explain it happened organically, and believe it might wind up giving the album an international appeal.
“Although the album will be marketed and promoted in Malaysia, if it’s good music, it can reach further. We don’t want to limit ourselves to Malaysia, although our bread and butter is here,” says SonaOne.
Alif adds: “And because we have some Malay songs on it, if people outside of Malaysia listen to it, they will be introduced to a Malay product.”