I met Reuben Raymond for the first time a couple of days ago, when Chris Pereira asked me to come over to his recording business Eyes & Ears, based at RAM Studio in Damai.
Until Reuben and his friend Rolln Augustine actually walked in the door, I forgot that I hadn’t met these guys before. This is because I’d already written to Reuben on Facebook, after seeing a video of the group RapSoul doing a cover version of The Wondergirls’ “Nobody”.
RapSoul is a group of lifetime friends from Tambunan. They have been creating music for several years — Reuben calls it “bedroom studio recordings”, but he’s being modest. He wrote Hinonggo, which fellow Sabahan musician Alvin MY went on to have a hit with, as part of the group INFINATEZ. Here’s a video of Alvin and Reuben jamming it together very recently, recorded in a room somewhere!
The “Nobody” video which blew me away is on an earlier post.
These tough-looking young males — RapSoul — made an r&b version of “Nobody” that was steeped in soulfulness compared to the pop original. The song had Malay rap lyrics, and the video footage was of KK scenes: backstreets, road signs. It was the nostalgic eye of a local. This was clearly a labour of love, because I went to youtube where the video was posted, and RapSoul member MERN’s message was: “This video is for viewing pleasure only. Enjoy!” It’s a beautiful piece of work, and there was no underlying reason to make it, except to make something beautiful.
Reuben’s new song, “Kau Saja Milik Ku”, roughly means “You’re The One for Me”.
The melody of “Kau Saja Milik Ku” was written by Reuben, while the rap lyrics (I will attach them with the mp3 later) were written by Rolln. The chorus of this song has a really pretty and catchy melody, with six levels of harmonies all sung separately by Reuben, in his home studio. There was no software transposition on the vocals.
Rolln and Reuben are working as T-Street, a spin-off project from RapSoul.
“Actually my part was done three weeks ago,” Reuben said.
“Just waiting for me,” Rolln admitted. “I’ve been busy working. So this is the right time for us to get together to make this song.”
And the T-Street project? “T Stands for Tambunan, and maybe also stands for Tapai!” 🙂
Chris was putting this all together. You can see here that he was enjoying himself. He said it’s easy for rappers to fall into a monotone, as he reminded Rolln a couple of times to put more inflection and expression into his lyric.
Apart from Da four Prinzs who were hanging out with them that night, Reuben and Rolln also had another friend taking video shots – Terence Mark Blantocas. I’m hoping he will eventually put something nice together so I can embed it in my post here.
In order to share T-Street’s song “Kau Saja Milik Ku”, I will take an mp3 from Chris and put it together with my own video shots. But mine are too basic, and I will substitute it with someone else’s as soon as they make one.
I know they will make one, because these guys cannot help themselves, they HAVE to be creative! They do it whenever they get together. I see videos of their music-making on Facebook.
So what is it? Family? The kampung life? Is life here easier and you can spend time making music? I don’t think you can say it’s easier – life for young men here would be the same as anywhere – pressure to find your identity, get work and money, get ready to take on responsibilities, deal with drugs and alcohol and violence. Life is a battle and young men are soldiers who fall by the wayside. I don’t know that much about RapSoul, but I see pictures of them on their website. They seemed to be six, and then they were five. No, I don’t think the kampung shields you from Life’s challenges. They still have to battle and come through. And still these guys keep on making music.
Only they can tell us what drives them. On their website, it says: “RapSouL Is About The Music, The Soul, The Dream, The Brotherhood and The Friendship That We Shared Together”. Well, if their music is a reflection of that, it’s no wonder they make especially beautiful and meaningful music.