Jogja Hip Hop Foundation thundered with bangin’ beats and mad flow this past Thursday at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts. Hailing from Yogyakarta, Indonesia, the politically and socially conscious Jogja Hip Hop Foundation reinvents Javanese rhythms and poetry with a modern hip hop flare. With a Javanese swag that any hip hop enthusiast would appreciate, it was unfortunate that there weren’t many said enthusiasts in the crowd.
The Mondavi Center’s swanky, royal blue-draped tables and crimson-brimmed chalices abruptly contrasted the urban street vibe emanating from the performers; nonetheless, Jogja overwhelmed the audience with sublime passion and creativity.
The Jogja members animated the stage and created their own energy to feed from.
The traveling representatives of the foundation consisted of founder and rapper, Marzuki Mohammad or Kill the DJ, rapper Heri Wiyoso and rappers/producers Yanu Prihaminanto and Balance Putra. However, behind every strong group of men is an even stronger woman-in this case holding down beats on the turntable, spinning tracks in a swagged-out fedora. DJ Vanda Kartikasari was the sole female representative of Jogja Hip Hop foundation and she played her part perfectly.
New York born yet globally appreciated, hip hop has become ubiquitous and transparent across cultures. The Jogja Hip Hop Foundation beautifully demonstrates this transparency. They recreate hip hop by applying the defining characteristics of beats and lyrics to revolutionize traditional music and poetry specific to Indonesia. Rapping in their native tongue and incorporating Javanese culture are just a few techniques used by the group to promote diversity and pluralism. The organization may be a novel mystery in Davis and even in this country, but in Indonesia they are celebrated with great electricity. With lyrics that speak out against violence and corruption, The Jogja Hip Hop Foundation is the fuel that charges Yogyakarta. They are the voice of the people.
The last song performed by the group demonstrated the influence they have on their fellow people. As Jogja is both the alias of Yogyakarta and the name of the crew, members explained that the people of Yogyakarta claimed one of their songs as the anthem of the city. In a protest against the government the people took to the streets marching like soldiers, fervently chanting the lyrics "JO-GJA! JO-GJA!"
Video of the actual protest reeled behind the crew as they held clenched fists high, chanting with their people "JOGJA! JOGJA!" Their pride could be felt by all, and for the first time the crowd reacted, shouting back in unison "JOGJA! JOGJA!" For a fleeting moment in time, we too were revolutionaries for the cause, yet the members of The Jogja Hip Hop Foundation were the true revolutionaries. You didn’t need to understand the lyrics to feel their weight. By inspiring the people through both cultural constancy and diversity, they are a true example of tolerance and cultural pluralism. The Jogja crew gave a great performance appropriate for all ages. Although many in the Mondavi audience had no idea how to react during a rap concert, the Jogja crew didn’t let that take away from their shine. They were positive and energetic throughout, displaying the tolerance and diversity they promote.