Recent Development: Rap

Generally, I like rap. When it comes to music, I try to keep an open mind. I listen to everything. I pay attention to its creative process and business turn out. Some rap, I can understand. Eminem was a big thing in my teenage years, and he rapped some relatable things with catchy hooks. Some of my favorite artists also occasionally rap. It’s only when it comes to K-Pop I cringe whenever I hear rap. K-Pop has this habit of putting rap into EVERYTHING and I’ve never stopped asking why. And then fate hooked me up with Hamilton.


I’d heard of Hamilton for a while, but never checked it out. It intrigued me that there was even a crossover fanart of Hamilton and Star Wars, which is really weird. At the same time, I was also watching tons of Broadway shows as references for my own musical. I guess it was time for me to see Hamilton.

The first thing I did was download the cast album from Apple Music. Right from the very first line, my mouth gaped open. I thought, oh maybe they’re only going to rap for the first verse. Boy, how I was wrong. They rap their way out the ENTIRE show. How is it even possible? This whole musical is rap and hip-hop! Something I’d never expected to be spawned out of a Broadway show.

Not only Hamilton broke its way out of the old-age Broadway formula, the whole production is great too. I became obsessed with Hamilton in lightning speed. Until today, I’m still obsessed with it. I’ve had experienced Hamilton for hours and hours, and still I can’t get enough of it. There’s a million things I haven’t learned about it. The stage production, the storytelling, the research, the music production, the lyrics writing, and the character development.

Hamilton is a hit EVERYWHERE.

The great annotation project from Genius has helped me a lot in deconstructing Hamilton. Genius analyzed the show through historical, production, literature, and musical lenses. I didn’t even know that you can display character development through their rap lines, as seen on Lafayette (performed by Daveed Diggs). Lafayette is a Frenchman with stuttering English, but as he becomes closer with his American allies, his English gets better and suddenly he has the fastest rap lines in Hamilton. Then there’s also Hamilton himself. They show him as a brilliant man, a wordsmith, by giving him relatively more sophisticated rap lines than his mates. I can feel I’m failing as a writer already.

Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote Hamilton in 7 years. The cast is perfect. Their performances are perfect, their vocals and raps are amazing. I have spent my time obsessing over each and everyone of them. Hamilton has opened my eyes to the poetry that is rap. I was introduced to a whole new world of wit and creativity, and how it can collaborate with other forms of art. Hamilton shows me how rap can tell stories, protests, debates, and inner voices. I’ve been trying to learn more about rap ever since. And black music too in general. I’ve been listening to Raleigh Ritchie a lot, even though he doesn’t rap much. I’ve taken a little taste of Kanye West’s latest album, and am going to listen to his whole discography. The one I really have to pay attention to is Kendrick Lamar and I’m still looking for the right time for it. I have a feeling he’s going to blow my mind. Once it happens, he’s gonna consume my attention like hell.

Now, I want to start dipping my toes into history of rap, but I don’t know where to start. If you have any suggestion, please drop me a comment. Which representative rapper do you think I should listen to?

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140622 SHINee World Concert 3 Jakarta

This post is a hard one to draft. I’ve been a fan of SHINee for many years and the impact they’ve made to my life is nothing to joke about. I’ve fangirled hard before, but SHINee inspire me like no one ever has. It’s correct to think of them as a lifesaver in my story, and to have helped bringing them here is one of a kind experience. I have so many mixed feelings about the concert. Therefore, I’m apologizing in advance. It’s hard to be coherent explaining my thoughts about this concert. The main purpose of this post is to provide you with insights instead of a fanaccount.

To put things into perspective, especially to non-K-pop fans in general, SHINee have been performing non-stop since 2008. Their first solo concert was held in 2010. The second one toured around the world a couple of years later. The third one started at the end of last year and Jakarta is their last stop before entering a hiatus for their new record. SHINee World Concert, as one of the famous K-Pop act, is a lavish one to make. Forget about the artist fee, the production cost alone often skyrockets, because they bring you laser lights, pyrotech, wire actions, giant LED screen, water works, non-negotiable sound system, to put it into a word: expensive. The concern was how were we going to pay for all of this?

The effort to bring a SHINee World Concert (SWC) started last year. It took more than six months to make this concert happen. You don’t want to know the countless drama that occured in the middle of it all. Since the beginning, I’d already pledged to help with the fans management, mainly ticketing. Having a sold out gig was a must in order to cover the sky high expense. Even then we still worried that the ticket price was too expensive, considering many of the fans were students, but it was the best that we could do.

I decided to make Fantix to make it easier for fans to access the tickets. At the same time, local fanbases, Shawolindo and Off_Shawolindo were also invited to join the effort to make this concert successful. But even so, the first wave of ticket sale was way below my expectation. I was really worried, you know :( There was a possibility of the concert being cancelled if the sale did not meet the minimum number required, just like Super Show in Australia. But we pushed through. Various promotional strategies were campaigned to boost the sale, and yet the drama still continued. D-4, it was found out that the venue did not have the mandatory Noise Permit, and the building could be sealed because of it. Fortunately, acting Jakarta governor, Ahok, took a wise decision regarding the matter. Half number of buildings in Jakarta did not have Noise Permits and it wasn’t effective to seal them all. Ahok encouraged them to quickly obtain the permits instead. And so on D-Day, we all headed to Ancol. The concert was really happening.


These girls from Shawolindo and Off_Shawolindo are AWESOME.


With Jujus and Sasha, my Fantix comrades. We didn't get the whole fan experience because we're stationed in the ticket booth all day.


At least we had fun taking pictures with this beautiful backdrop.

But do you think the drama stopped there? You thought wrong. D-2 it was officially announced that Onew would not participate in the concert due to a throat surgery. It was the hardest blow to receive. The SHINee World Indonesia Union (SWI Union) did a major adjustment in their fanproject and came out with this simple, yet straight to the point message.


The SWI Union distributed 4,000 handbanners, 8,000 glowsticks, and 2,000 Onew messages for free to everyone attending the concert. Thank you so much to the Shawols that donated for all of these stuff!

That day, June 22, was a packed one. There was a meet and greet with SHINee for several lucky fans and a soundcheck viewing for another couple hundred of fans. There were only Jonghyun, Key, and Taemin, because Minho just flew that day and he landed at 4pm, arrived in Ancol at 5.30. We were allowed to see SHINee rehearsing for Everybody, Selene 6.23, and Sherlock. No cameras or phones allowed. Dreammaker staffs were very strict about it. During rehearsal, SHINee didn’t talk much. Key greeted us with a short ‘hi’ and Jonghyun thanked us briefly for cheering them on. Taemin was being his usual self: silent. Damn you, prince of darkness.

The merchandise booth had a lot of people, but the crowd wasn’t torturous. It was located inside the building, so the queueing was cool and painless. Got my lightstick for 110,000 IDR. People had lined up since morning too for the concert. They lined up inside the building and I caught a glimpse. It was tidy, even though later I heard complaints about it, but oh well. The older I get, the more uninterested I am in queueing. The show started at 7 and I got in at 6.30. I was in Festival 1. It was fairly empty. :/



The show started on time. As Key had told us before, the cue was Runaway. The song played and the light dimmed. Then everything went absolutely dark save for the main screen.

What I love most about SM concerts is their generous gimmicks. The design and concept are often mindblowing, and the ones they had for SWC3 did not disappoint. We started with an abandoned city. Smoke and ruins, it was all very post-apocalyptic, which I’m a sucker for. A girl in a white dress crossed the city and took a wilting white flower in her little hands. In the desert, she stopped in front of 5 pieces of broken glass, then her tears started to drop. With each drop of tears, SHINee appeared and materialized to life. HNNNGH I almost pissed my pants watching this beautiful, beautiful video. So my guess is SHINee would fix these broken things with their heavenly power hahaha

After the introduction was done, some kind of clockwork mechanism appeared on the screen. You had to put a code in order to open the lock and turns out the code was “20140622”. It was really nice. They rarely did an individualized VCR in their concerts, except for subtitles, which are pretty much add-ons. The lock opened and the intro for Spoiler played. The real SHINee appeared one by one. The concert started.

I was anticipating this particular concert so hard because the setlist was dominated by SHINee’s dance numbers, it was practically a rave party. They opened the gig with non-stop dance tracks. Spoiler, Evil, Nightmare, Juliette, Lucifer, they didn’t give us time to breathe! I was dancing so hard, I got out of breath, and we hadn’t reached half of the setlist yet!


With a stage like this, how come we didn't party hard? I wouldn't suggest anyone with an epilepsy to attend this concert.

Things got really hot when it came to Hitchhiking, and I was really surprised. I didn’t expect it to be the hottest performance, because it wasn’t really my favorite track. But I was wrong. I thought I was gonna cry during Like A Fire, because it was my absolute favorite song, but I didn’t. I was majorly happy. The dance routine to the song was stupid, but I was happy anyway. Minho looked really stupid during the butterfly dance, while Key just looked pretty. Jonghyun was lovely to look at, and Taemin was just being Taemin, that spawn of satan. Queen of New York started with Singing in the Rain with a New York lights backdrop and it was really beautiful. My chest swelled with pride because the four of them danced and performed so well and energetic, for a moment I forgot there was one member missing.


I still think SHINee should be the funk & EDM front of SM. They've finally found their one true musical color and it's great.

The first ballad number they did was Sleepless Night and I remember being so nervous, because if they messed up this one, it would be obvious. But they pulled it off. Even Jonghyun didn’t miss a single note. He used to be so prone to do it despite being the lead singer of the group. But then things got painful so fast during Orgel. They divided themselves into two groups. Minho and Taemin on the left, Jonghyun and Key on the right. The gap that was Onew was too big, it was glaring at me.

The next VCR showed us SHINee in some kind of trippy wonderland. It was very colorful and I got even more excited because I knew Kiss Yo was coming. But nope, they sang 3 2 1 instead. That’s when I realized that they had skipped a couple of songs, including Girls Girls Girls, one of the numbers I was looking forward to. SHINee had fun on the stage during 3 2 1 with their silly solo dances. Look for the fancams! It was great. Then they continued with more dance songs before excusing themselves with Selene 6.23, even though there were so many songs they hadn’t performed yet. Were they going to sing 5 songs during the encore?

Nope. No such thing happened. They did skip a lot of songs. I suspected it was because of Onew’s absence. Symptoms for example. That song would be a hard one to rearrange in a short time, because Onew’s vocal is so dominant in it. Many of us were so brokenhearted when they skipped it. And without realizing it, they got to Green Rain already. The closing song. I was happy nonetheless, but a big part of me was also sad, it was weird.

SHINee said goodbye for the second time and the hall went dark. I was starting to accept that the show was over, but then Onew appeared on the screen. He stood there, his megawatt smile was on his face. Slide after slide was on his hands, apologizing for being absent. IT WAS REALLY HEARTBREAKING, WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME? To compensate for this loss, SHINee surprised us with a second encore. They appeared again with Stand By Me. And then the concert ended for good and it was the weirdest SWC I had ever seen. :(

The unique thing about a K-pop concert is how fans crave specific interactions between their favorite band members. But I’ve grown past that, so I did not look for such thing. I enjoyed the concert as a whole, and these are the things engraved in my brain. Onew’s Google translate level Indonesian. Key enthusiastically mimicking the translator’s Indonesian, even though I bet he didn’t understand a word of it, it was still really cute xD Taemin’s solo dance during Ring Ding Dong with the stunning motion graphic playing behind him. SHINee fawning over the anniversary cake the SWI Union had prepared specially for them and Taemin mistaking the anniversary dates for phone numbers LOL Then Minho taking the Onew cake and they voiced it over, as though Onew was apologizing for not joining us that night. And of course, Jongkey grinding to each other, I thought my head was gonna explode. And this beautiful, beautiful pearlescent blue ocean.


I don’t know how to conclude this post. Many times I was so annoyed by the audience for standing in my view with their handbanners, monopods, smartphones, and tablets. Where is your concert manner? I was also disappointed by the many songs they skipped and I couldn’t help feeling angry at Onew for being sick, even though I know I can’t really blame him for that. It was supposed to be the best SWC ever. But now there will always be something missing in this particular SWC experience of mine. I’m forever incomplete. As great as SHINee’s performance was, it was also obvious how weary they were. The rearrangement was done in a hurry, the playback wasn’t even ready. We could still hear Onew’s voice there even though one of them sang his lines. In many cases, they didn’t cover Onew’s lines at all. The interaction was minimum, but I understood they were working. I think after years of doing this, they’ve come to understand it too. It wasn’t emotional. Absolutely professional and I was really proud of them. This particular SWC in Jakarta was dark. Even for their standard it was dark. Their outfits were dominated by black color. Their signature rainbow costumes were not there. They stayed black until the end. But I’m still proud of them.


I'd missed you guys so much and I miss you already.

Today is D+2 of the concert and my withdrawal is still as ugly as ever. There were so many things lacking from the concert, but I know how hard everyone worked to make this concert happen. A++ for everyone’s effort, Synergism, SM, SHINee, and Shawols!


My lightstick collection from SWC 1, 2, and 3

I guess in a way, this is the most special SWC that has ever happened for being so different. In this concert, we got to see the height of SHINee’s showmanship and camraderie, which is something really special to witness when you’ve followed them for so long. That’s why I have so many mixed feelings about this concert. SHINee’s contract ends next year and there’s always the possibility they will not continue the band. If they don’t, their next record could be the last one and there would be no SWC 4 at all. I guess I must be grateful for having the opportunity to catch this last concert of theirs. But I must see them again in complete formation next time. Please get well soon, Onew. ♥

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Olivia Pope Could Have Had Any Men

Olivia Pope-Scandal

I only started to watch Scandal because of one episode I saw in Star World when nothing better was on. I was fascinated by the fast pace of the series and the chemistry between Olivia and Fitz. It kinda hit a spot. I jumped into the Scandal bandwagon and am now in the middle of season 2, despite Sasha’s and Uti’s disliking the series.

Sasha doesn’t like it because she thinks Olivia Pope is an over-dramatic character. While I agree with her, I still can’t help to really like Olivia, because she’s smart, determined, and able to think on her feet. But what I like about her the most is her level-headedness, especially in handling her affair with the POTUS. She’s not one to be overruled by her emotions and that is one hell of a quality.

Uti doesn’t like it because she thinks Olivia Pope could have had any men, yet she infatuated herself with a married men. Though I agree with her on principle, I understand why Olivia eventually ends up with Fitz. Because Fitz is the only man who’s not afraid to approach her, to want her, and to love her. Olivia is obviously an alpha female and you know how that can be very intimidating for boys. In the end, sincerity does win a woman’s heart.

Other than the above, I find Olivia and Fitz’ chemistry to be spot on and very familiar. Watching them hurts. But I want to see how Olivia and Fitz resolve their affair. The rest is just entertainment.

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[EXPO] 131222 Weaver at Indonesia-Japan Expo 2013

I found Weaver from Channel V. Not meaning to sound like a hipster, but the minute I decided to check them out, I knew they’re a bit underrated. Their videos are scarce on Youtube, and downloading their albums is even harder. So when Dira told me that Weaver was coming, there’s no way I would miss it. They’d be playing at the Indonesia-Japan Expo 2013 on Sunday, and the ticket price was only 20,000 IDR (less than $2). Dira ended up not going due to her deadlines, but fortunately, Sangeh and Karen agreed to accompany me. We arrived there about an hour before Weaver’s stage.


You see, I’m not really into the J-scene, so all of this was new for me. The first thing we saw when we entered the venue was an Obake, a Japanese haunted house, and I got so excited when I remembered how Jonghyun screamed like a girl upon entering one in Kyoto. I wanted to get in too, but the queue line was too long. :(

We checked out the rest of the venue and it was full of food! There were also many Japan-related exhibitions in the halls, it was really cool. But what excited me the most was the cosplays. I’ve never seen a real cosplay! There were so many characters walking around and I was having the time of my life guessing who they were. I managed to guess some of the really famous ones xD

I think she’s from Magic Knight Rayearth. Not really sure. She won though.

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My Favorite Song At This Time Last Year

Day 30 of the music challenge. Last one!
It really depends on my current playlist. It changes very easily.

For me, 2012 was the golden year of EXO as well as its downfall. They hooked my interest the second SM released their very first of 23 teasers in late 2011. It was quite unconventional through my years of enjoying K-Pop. Usually, the practice in introducing a new band is image teasers of the band, followed by a couple of video teasers (cut from their upcoming music videos), followed by a number of news articles promoting the band. However, EXO took a different turn. They introduced the band members one by one through a series of video teasers specially made for the purpose of promotion. These 23 video teasers have their own concept, flaunting each of the members in their own unique way. In between these teasers (released from late 2011 up to the first trimester of 2012), SM released tons of image teasers through Facebook and Weibo (finally making use of the global social media, breaking out of their Korean shell). What’s more intriguing is, they released a couple of introductory singles too, “What Is Love?” and “History”. And no, they’re not considered as the debut single. They even introduced some of the band members through a live performance, which I believe, was something that never happened before. This is a very new approach in their conventional marketing, and yes, I was intrigued.

Through all this promotion, we learned that EXO would be divided into two sub-groups: EXO-K and EXO-M. EXO-K would be promoting mainly in Korea, while EXO-M would be in China. They have the same songs, but recorded in two languages: Korean tracks for EXO-K, and Mandarin tracks for EXO-M, and meanwhile not forgetting the main group as well, mixing both Korean and Mandarin in a song so that EXO the full band could perform it together. At the time, I thought it was a very brilliant move. Covering as many area as possible in one single blow. I’m sure the investment was not cheap, but I have a feeling it would be worth it.

In the beginning, it was my only reason to keep track of EXO: to find out what SM would do next. But then EXO introduced the band concept, and it was a science fiction one, and I gave up. God damn you, SM, I’m a sucker for all things space. EXO took a concept of twelve aliens from an exo planet that descended to Earth, each of the 12 members have their own unique abilities, represented by their individual symbols. I was like, SM you fucker, so fucking brilliant. Giving each of the band member an individual symbol made sure that each of the member would have their own followings and fanbases, because such symbols would represent exclusivity and sense of belonging. In other words, a mindfuckery of consumers’ behavior and psychology. This band was bound for a successful career.

So yeah, I was obsessed with EXO all through 2012. They debuted with double mini albums: Korean and Mandarin, and I was not disappointed. It’s amazing listening to the same exact tracks, but each with their own flavor. At the time, I was head over heels with this song, Machine.

Machine by EXO-K

Machine by EXO-M

If you notice the lyrics (hardsubbed to the video), you’ll see that the songs talk about the same premise: falling in love with a machine-like girl. Yet, if you take a closer look, the songs don’t necessarily talk about the same things. Here’s an example.

Is she not a doll? does she breathe?
Knowing or not, making a cold smile
She has a heart that beats, she must have a voice
I cannot believe it, look look
You are a cold machine
You are a ma, ma, ma, ma, ma, machine
You are a ma, ma, ma, ma, ma, machine
A beautiful and sharp goddess
You are a ma, ma, ma, ma, ma, machine
You are a ma, ma, ma, ma, ma, machine

Machine by EXO-K

She’s like a toy. Does she breathe? Is she able to sigh for anyone?
How come her tears don’t have any emotion?
Gray eyes like glass. I can’t tell if it is innocence or mystery buried inside them
If you don’t see it for yourself, there’s no way you would believe it
Loving you is like loving a cold machine
She’s a ma- ma- ma- ma- machine
She’s a ma- ma- ma- ma- machine
A soundless machine without a heart
She’s a ma- ma- ma- ma- machine
She’s a ma- ma- ma- ma- machine

Machine by EXO-M (translation by her)

See what I mean? Yes, they’re questioning if this girl is human or not, but then the songs take opposite turns from each other. While the other is madly in love and pursuing this girl, the other is in despair and about to give up. Shit, I was blown away by the brilliance of these two songs -hell- EXO concept in general. I’ve learned a lot just by these two songs, especially about how a single word can change the whole meaning of the passage. I thought SM had finally topped up their own game with all of this brilliance they’ve been doing with EXO. They must keep it up.

But apparently, that’s too much to ask of SM. Though EXO had taken the world by storm up to the middle of 2012, SM failed in keeping up with the audience’s expectation and interest. EXO didn’t release anything new until 2013, and boy, they lost a big amount of eager followers that they’d gained in the beginning. Shame. Even now that they’re back, I think SM is taking a general route for EXO despite all those things they’d done to make EXO one of a kind. EXO looks very generic now with their school uniforms and street jerseys. They don’t look any different from the next band. I am very much disappointed, if that’s not obvious enough.

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