Detonate: Decipher

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Chris Pereira aka Decipher was first introduced to hip hop in ’93 when a family friend passed him Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle album. Later on, Decipher got infected by Cypress Hill and things just started snowballing from there. These days, the MC digs into Rakim, Inspectah Deck, Kurupt, Nas, Jay-Z, The Roots, Altimet and Rogue Squadron.

Born and raised on the island of Labuan in East Malaysia, Decipher performed in and around Sabah after moving to Kota Kinabalu in 2000. But nothing could beat getting the chance to spit rhymes at The Bombshelter #7 at Cloth & Clef. To think he almost gave up on music in 2004. When he landed a job at a studio, he got fired up again. “I knew I couldn’t put hip hop aside,” he admits. “I got my heart back into it and it has never been better.”

As a rapper, the East Malaysian mostly drops rhymes about the ups and downs of being a human being-there’s nothing in there about bling, cars or girls, although he does admit to finding inspiration in his wife. “Other than that, it’s events around me or weird situations when my mind isn’t thinking of Star Wars or baby-making methods,” he grins. You gotta love the honesty of this hip hop star.

The wordsmith has got an impressive resume. He was a member of his own (short-lived) band Marion’s Dust & The Locust Daydream, which played “trippy electronic rock with tons of effects and weird drums”. On the hip hop front, he’s worked with Kinabalu Kings, Soul Chamber, Jin Hackman, Schizzow and Boss Chan. Besides keeping busy co-producing, recording and mixing, he’s featured with a whole list of artists including Jiaja, Sasuka, WORM, Mia Palencia and Andalusia. He also won Homegrown’s Merdeka Songwriting Competition last year together with his production group Digital Lick.

Yet the Sabah music scene is not without its challenges. “It’s varied. [And] You have the local Kadazan Dusun scene, which has a life of its own,” reveals Decipher. “Singers here can still sell up to 10,000 CDs, but there’s also the struggle to be taken seriously in the music scene. It’s definitely growing and expanding, but our double standards are a bit of a setback.” Undiscouraged, local artists are putting in more time in the studio, working harder to get their products heard on the internet and looking for more avenues to play regular gigs.

As for Decipher, he’s still producing his weekly RapOverSeries mixtapes while Digital Licks is in the process of coming up with some fresh material. There’s also a collabo EP called COM with The Rebel Scum’s WordsManifest in the works and plans to set up a label. Could Decipher be our next Diddy or Kanye? J

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Image JoJ Yong