Salam: Relevant Reggae

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Image Salam Musik

Reggae is a difficult genre to tackle, especially in Malaysia where it is more commonly associated with rockers way past their prime who still sport dreadlocks and speak in bad faux patois. It’s either that or it has been appropriated by the sons of the rich and famous living on an island somewhere. Quite unlike how reggae is outside the country – where it comes in varied subgenres and remains youthful through the crossing of genres, which is exactly the cure the reggae scene here needs.

Enter Salam to fill in that remedial role. Not a foreign name to local ears by any stretch of the imagination, Salam is best remembered from his appearance on Malique and DJ Fuzz’s AIM-winning song ‘Cerita Kedai Kopi’. With a distinctive patois-inflected Malay, everyday vernacular, and accessible social message, he is immediately identifiable by the common man without aiming for the lowest common denominator.

Salam infuses the roots of reggae with modern sensibilities and some cultural elements. Not unlike Damian Marley, he is at his best when paired with rappers. Note the mentioned ‘Cerita Kedai Kopi’ along with other collaborations with Altimet (‘Alamak’), Sayla (‘Bila’ & ‘Achilles’), and Karmal (‘Seteguk’). All of whom appeared on debut album Salam Musik, and all were on some of the best tracks of the album in our opinion.

Salam Musik is a labour of love for Salam, who not only wrote the tunes but also designed the artwork and cover of the album on his own. You would think this makes him a lone wolf, but that’s not necessarily true as there’s more to Salam than just himself.

Salam is also a full band consisting of backup vocalist Eyza, lead guitarist Rajindra, rhythm guitarist Adipati, drummer Boy, trumpeter Payung, bassist Alvin, and finally the very animated keyboardist Ammar. In this age of digital music, Salam could easily be a one man show. Yet even with respect for modern music, he’s not about to trade a real band for sounds playing from a machine.

The energy put in their live performance is something that spreads to everyone watching. We’d wager even the most hardened of I’m-too-cool-to-dance hipsters won’t be able to resist from skankin’ to the tunes of Salam Musik.

Salam Musik is now out in stores. Chill to the sound of peace, love and harmony at