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The 4-pack project "SWOPO" is AE$OP CA$H's first official release as a signed artist. Photo: Russell Goh, HVT Entertainment

Spotify Spotlight: Like His Namesake, AE$OP CA$H Has Life Lessons To Impart

Like his Greek-philosopher namesake, AE$OP CA$H is a captivating storyteller, weaving fables and parables of his life experiences into his music.

One of the most polarising figures in Singapore's hip-hop scene, the rapper cites Kid Cudi and Kanye West as his inspirations. Whether they're in earworm singles or aggressive bangers, the influences are evident in the way he constantly innovates and pushes the local rap sound.

From being SG hip-hop's best kept secret, AE$OP CA$H is now stepping into the spotlight with his first official body of work under the HVT Entertainment label.

The 4-track project "SWOPO" is the magnum opus of AE$OP CA$H's burgeoning career. You won't find a better Singapore rap EP this year.

With a cohesive, narrative thread that weaves through the four songs - "SWOPO INTRO", lead single "VACATION", "TENGGELAM" (drowning) and "KNOW ABOUT IT" - the collection of tracks is an eclectic concoction that perfectly captures the rapper's artistry and versatility.

To celebrate this milestone, we sat down with AE$OP CA$H to talk new music, faith and even NS experiences.

Congratulations on getting signed to HVT Entertainment and the release of SWOPO! How has the transition been from being an independent artist? 

It’s been interesting but not unexpected. My name was almost synonymous with the Singapore underground rap scene, so I knew there would be a reaction when the news came out.

Mostly, people have been supportive to my face, but I can tell some people didn’t like the move too much, but it is what it is. I gotta do what I feel is best for me and the RSVR. And as long as nobody touches me, I’m fine with whatever opinion people form about me or my moves.

Other than that, it’s been interesting noticing the changes in how people in the industry view or treat me; nothing positive or negative about it, just different.

That moniker - man! Tell us the story behind the name "AE$OP CA$H".

Aesop was a Greek storyteller/philosopher famed for a compilation of stories known as "Aesop’s Fables". He was very skilled in delivering complex life lessons and philosophies through his stories while making it so easy to process that even kids could take away lessons from the stories.

I was very intrigued by this and wanted to emulate the same impact he had with my music. Aesop also had an incredible journey to becoming who he was as he was actually a slave that broke free, and made something more of his life and legacy with his perseverance and intelligence - and this is something I aim to do for myself.

The recurring theme on SWOPO seems to be versatility. You are fearless in the way you approach different genres as you are in crafting your raps. How does each song represent each facet of your artistry?

I’ve always been a music lover, ever since I can remember - I never cared about genres I only cared about the songs itself. This is, of course, reflected in the way I approach my own music, I’m often very excited and open to trying anything and I believe in my ability enough to try anything.

I think that’s something that listeners haven’t really caught on yet; my openness towards music. I think it’s from the way I look and carry myself. Most people assume my music would reflect that exactly, and I don’t blame them, but I hope SWOPO can be a little eye opener for them.

My artistry is the total sum of my experiences, my inspirations, my dreams, heartbreaks, life, death, and everything in between, so it would be a disservice to myself and my supporters if I only used one genre to express all of that.

One of the standout songs in this record is “TENGGELAM" (Malay for “drown”), a song about misjudgement and being misconceived. Can you elaborate?

"TENGGELAM" came from a point when I was affected by people who try to “gatekeep” religion. As hard as it for some people to believe, I’m actually a deeply spiritual person. My journey with my faith has not been easy, but it’s been one of the most important things in my life. It is a source of inspiration, it guides me through the toughest times of my life. My faith is a huge part of my fabric as a human being. It’s a topic I’m still exploring and manoeuvring.

You performed "live" for the first time in over 2 years at the recent "Hometown Heroes" finale. How much have you missed being back on stage performing in front of an audience?

It was nerve-wrecking at first, it’s been years since I hit the stage, and this time, there are different rules and regulations in place so I didn’t know how the crowd was going to be.

But as soon as I hit the stage, [all my doubts] went away.  It’s like a different world; a world where I call the shots for 30 minutes till I leave the stage.

Performing "live" has got to be one of the favourite things to do as an artist, which surprised me as I’m actually quite a shy person and I don’t really like the spotlight like that.

By the way, how was your national service experience? Did it inspire you or your music in any way?

My NS experience was amazing and terrible at the same time, I struggled with the regimentation and the authority as I’m not a very disciplined person, but in its entirety, I think NS taught me so many things I rely on in life today.

It also gave me the opportunity to meet all kinds of people and build rapport with a common goal in mind. I’ve made lifelong friends from my NS days and I’m forever grateful for that.

Music-wise, I think the regimentation in NS helped me to be a little more on the ball when it comes to the nitty-gritty parts of music.

Now that "SWOPO" is out in the world, what's in store for 2022? And what do you hope to achieve as an artist with HVT Entertainment?

I’d like to thank everybody who had a part to play in "SWOPO"; it wouldn’t have happened without the conviction of the whole team.

Moving forward, I think people in my camp know what’s coming and I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s huge - and I can’t wait for my listeners and everybody to see what we got coming. The songs, the videos, the shows, everything. We about to eat for real.

As an artist, I’ve never worried too much about the numbers or accolades. I just want to always stay true to myself and be genuine in everything I deliver. I believe if I can do that, then everything else will fall in place. on Spotify

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