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No matter which rapper created the soundtracks of your childhood, rap music has culminated and reached an audience like never before, especially in an era where music platforms like Spotify and Soundcloud are just a click away, no matter where you are in the world.
Rap, or hip-hop, isn’t just a genre; it’s a culture, a community, a voice that tells the stories of the streets, the narratives of the neglected, and the hopes of the hustlers.
But what actually is rap music, and why does it strike a chord in the hearts of many?
Tracing the Roots and Rhythms of Rap Music
The seeds of the hip-hop genre were sewn in the urban landscapes of the United States, particularly in the Bronx borough of New York City in the 1970s by African Americans.
In a time when many were left neglected by the government, rap music was created to provide a voice for people – articulating the struggles and aspirations of marginalised groups.
This ignited a spark in young folks who experienced urban poverty to explore new ways of understanding social and economic issues and expressing themselves through the influence of rap music.
Rap music gave a voice and an empowering sense of identity to young people who felt unheard.
With its candid lyrical ability, rap has often been at the forefront of musical activism.
The genre has the ability to address complex social issues in an engaging and relatable manner, making it a compelling medium for sparking dialogue, challenging norms, and promoting social cohesion.
Fast forward to 2023, rap music has evolved not just to spotlight themes of struggles from the marginalised group but to delve into other facets of human society, from feminism and heartbreak to mental health issues and other societal challenges that impact many people.
Rap Culture in Singapore: A Growing Phenomenon
The rap scene in Singapore has grown rapidly over recent years, reflecting a broader global trend of hip-hop’s rising popularity.
Local artists like ShiGGa Shay, Yung Raja, and Fariz Jabba have propelled the rap scene into the mainstream.
The growing acceptance and appreciation of rap in Singapore signify a vibrant, evolving cultural landscape where traditional and modern forms of expression unite.
Even those who aren’t big fans of the genre would have stumbled upon rap music in shopping malls, on the radio, or in the gym.
Studies suggest that jamming to rap music, or tunes with higher beats per minute, can amp up physical performance during low-to-moderate level exercise.
This is yet another testament to how rap music serves as a form of self-expression and can boost performance in everyday life.
What it means to B-Greater, Spreading the Vibe of Neighborliness
Aiming to leverage rap music to foster a community spirit, the Singapore Kindness Movement proudly presents the B-Greater rap song.
Produced by Flightsch, the hip-hop track introduces us to Wheelsmith, a local rapper who keenly observes the unfolding interactions within his neighbourhood. Here, his neighbours gradually retreat into a mindset of individualism.
The song explores thought-provoking themes, including neighbours becoming increasingly irritated over the noise from others’ homes, the inclination to isolate ourselves from those living next door, and the fading culture of neighbourly greetings.
Think about it: When was the last time you said hello to your neighbour?
The Brains Behind B-Greater: Breaking It Down
The song features local music artist and personality Wheelsmith, known by his real name, Sheikh Muhd Danial Bawthan. Wheelsmith has gained recognition for his performances at the Singapore National Day Parade 2019 and involvement in the ‘We Are Majulah: Lion Heart SG’.
Beyond his music career, he is deeply dedicated to wheelchair rugby, serving as the president of the Wheelchair Rugby Association.
Joining Wheelsmith is Keyana, a 19-year-old singer with a versatile range spanning R&B, soul, and pop genres. Her musical influences include artists like Kehlani, Summer Walker, and Inayah.
Dr William Wan, who is the current Senior Consultant for Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM), surprised everyone by featuring on the song and rapping two stanzas, even contributing to the lyric-writing process. Together, they explore the universal appeal of rap music in the newly released song.
Asal nak bising? Sampai kepala aku da pening! Tell me what’s the problem what’s up with the bickerin?
I’m just tryna get my house done like yours last month
You been bangin drilling round the clock like it ain’t done
How often have you grumbled when you heard drilling noises from your neighbour next door? Instead of brewing anger, the song nudges us to reshape our societal norms by showing more compassion toward our next-door neighbour.
Living close together can be pek chek, leceh
Can’t avoid each other but I know that we can try
Make a couple lil adjustments to our life, this is part and parcel of neighbourhood life
Start by saying hello to your new neighbour, give some love ‘cuz the block got flavour
A good start would be to offer a friendly smile to your neighbour. While it might be a tad awkward, we all sometimes dodge such interactions, even going as far as taking a few extra steps to catch the next lift to avoid a chat with our neighbour or just burying our faces in our screens.
Extending even this small act of kindness can really brighten someone’s day.
Neighbours by Chance, Friends by Choice
Towards the song’s end, Dr Wan finishes by saying, “We are neighbours by chance; let’s be friends by choice.”
The song reminds Singaporeans that the kinder we are every day, the stronger we will be as a society.
While rap has been a tool for addressing societal issues on the streets of the Bronx in New York for decades, the B-Greater rap song challenges the stigma of going cold towards our neighbour, reminding us that kindness begins with us.
We can work towards making a greater impact within our communities in many ways.
It could involve tending to their plants while caring for your own when you notice they are absent during a vacation. It could even be sharing food with the neighbour next door.
Becoming greater doesn’t always demand the most extravagant gestures.
It is as simple as saying “Hello.”
Watch the music video now!
You can check out Bandwagon‘s post about the B-Greater rap song here: