Spotify Spotlight: This Rap Duo's New Single Urges Us To Get Up And Keep Going
In 1944, American songwriters Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer penned the song "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive", which highlighted that the key to happiness was to:
Ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive,
E-lim-i-nate the negative,
And latch on to the affirmative.
Don't mess with Mr. In-between.
It's a familiar inspirational trope that has followed humankind through the ages, to stay focused on the positive and, to quote a famous Blue Tang, to "just keep swimming".
In these troubled COVID-infected times, what sentiment could be more relevant or resonate more than this?
Yes, Chumbawamba might have given us their riotous pub anthem, "Tubthumping", in 1997, thunderously declaring "I get knocked down, but I get up again, you're never gonna keep me down".
But Wonderwall.sg's own Farhan Shafie (aka FRGN) and pal Jake Joshua Deroy (aka Jjdroy) have paired up to echo this attitude in a decidedly more modern and thoughtful way that brings the drama - check out FRGN's verse in their 90s-inspired single "Dust It Off", for instance:
For everybody’s ever been told no
If you ever feel like giving up or letting go
Dust yourself off, eyes on the prize
Like The Dark Knight, you are gonna rise
We put our "frolleague" FRGN in the spotlight to talk about paying homage to the 90s, personal setbacks, and what basketball's got to do with it:
First off, let’s talk about the music video directed by Ihasamic. How did national basketball player and Singapore Slinger Delvin Goh get involved?
I’m very honoured and proud to work with Ihasamic, who is an incredible visual artist and musician in his own right. I’ve admired his work from afar especially the great visuals he created for his REPACK EP project.
He immediately got the vision and tone I was going for (grainy, 90’s nostalgia). It was a fun, effortless collaboration thanks to him being super efficient.
When the idea for "Dust It Off" came about, I wanted to create a motivational sports track vibe and it felt natural that I should somehow include and promote a national athlete as a way to highlight Singapore's awesome sportsmen and women.
When we decided on basketball, Delvin was the natural choice and I’m thankful he was so cool about being a part of the MV. Delvin is one the top local ballers in the game, and he’s been killing it with the Slingers for the longest time.
“Dust It Off” is about bouncing back from setbacks. Why did this theme resonate with you and Jjdroy? And why did you guys choose to highlight topics like dealing with people who are fake, past relationships and pro-wrestling?
Jjdroy and I wrote our parts separately but we briefly discussed the main theme I wanted us to cover in our lyrics. For me, it’s about embracing the peaks and valleys of life.
You know what they say, it’s just a setback before the comeback. I think having a positive headspace really helps you overcome and navigate difficult situations, and I wanted to put that message across in my verses.
Also it’s never a FRGN track without some wrestling references! I think wrestlers such as Stone Cold, Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair portray such confidence that you can’t help but be inspired by their personas.
JJ then brought the element of dealing with haters and fakes by rising above the negativity. He kinda incorporated his own perspective to the situation and it really created a multi-faceted approach to the topic.
You say that, with this single, you also want to pay homage to the 90s. Who were some of the artists from that era who influenced you the most?
The soul sample in the track immediately reminded me of Lauryn Hill’s vocals. In terms of the rap style and the positivity I wanted to convey, it’s kind of in the vein of LL Cool J and Fresh Prince era Will Smith.
I loved the 90’s. It’s not just the music, it’s the sports. Hence the reason I rocked a Dennis Rodman Detroit Pistons jersey in the MV, he was such a bruiser in 1992 (coincidentally, the year I was born) and I also mention a number of great 90s wrestlers from WWF/WCW.
“Picking yourself up and dusting yourself off” is such a relevant message that resonates the world over. What’s been the biggest low point during this pandemic from which you’ve had to pick yourself and dust yourself off?
I think just losing the ability to socialise. While the introvert in me loves the solitude and privacy it provides, being able to kinda talk and connect with people is a skillset that needs practice - kinda like a muscle. Maybe I lost the ability to interact on some level. However, music is a great way to maintain the connection.
We're pretty sure NS provided you plenty of opportunities to overcome adversity with a positive demeanour. How was your NS experience?
I was in motorised infantry in an active unit. In layman terms, it was full on soldiering hahah so you could say NS life was a difficult period for me and my peers. But the great thing about army is the camaraderie and brotherhood you get to form with others. That support network will get you through tough days, for sure.
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