“Being in high school [in the UK] was, I guess, my first turning point in this whole rap thing,” says Faris Rahman, who raps as Zet Legacy, over email. A teenage Zet was encouraged by his peers to rap after he apparently impressed his classmates in a poetry class. From then on, he participated in plenty of rap battles in school, shaved his “Asian belah tengah hairdo” and learnt the difference between emceeing and rapping.
Images Zet Legacy
Young Zet had a proclivity for American rap, he says, which is one of the influences he adopted to distinguish himself from his British fellows. Zet cites Limp Bizkit’s Chocolate Starfish and Hot Dog Flavored Water as one of the few rap albums he got on with, as it introduced him to the likes of Method Man and Redman, both of whom are featured on the remix of the nu metal band’s mega hit ‘Rollin’’. Aside from local rap luminary Too Phat, and Wu Tang Clan, Eminem, 50 Cent as well as his big appetite for rap battles, he also includes another rap rock album, Linkin Park’s classic Hybrid Theory, on his list of early influences.
So, being more Americanised, Zet stood out among the UK scene-dominant pool in school. Despite the distinct difference between the styles of delivery, flow, and beats, Zet didn’t reject what UK had to offer, instead he studied it, “Taking notes down and learning how they flow, [I knew] my style wasn’t close to theirs – It really was something different; grime, garage rap, and all.”
“Being that ignorant rapper in high school had me spitting American rap styles to differentiate me from the others (laughs).”
However, he soon admits to enjoying the flow of grime when he returned home to Malaysia, confessing that the genre indeed had an effect on him. “Being that ignorant rapper in high school had me spitting American rap styles to differentiate me from the others,” he states, laughing, “But I was glad to get to know these styles and how UK rap was different before it was really a thing.” Zet provides some examples that particularly affected him, namely Lethal Bizzle’s hard-hitting ‘Pow’ and a Southampton rapper by the name of Funkie SMMB.
Since he started rapping in English and consumed mostly rap songs in English, he never did rap in Bahasa early on. He confesses to having trouble writing in that language even in school. “Not having that grasp of the language, I stuck with rapping in English. But over the years, I grew fond of experimenting with rojak in my lyrics.” Rojak, or our very own Malaysian patois, to which he means incorporating English and Bahasa – essentially Manglish – in his lyrics just as how he speaks naturally, is to compensate his lack of confidence in expressing himself in full Bahasa. He speaks of the benefits of bilingual rap as a way to reach both markets of listeners, even joking, “Who knows, some white girl would pick up a few Bahasa words after listening to ‘Yih’ (his latest single).”
“[‘Brown Boys’] wasn’t really made to celebrate anything but just a message.”
Debut album Prelude 101, released early this year, took two years to finish. It initially started as a final project with fellow Bat Cave member Dment, who produced and engineered most of the album, but it soon blossomed into a full-fledged album. The album featured beats from Dment and his other brothers in arms, Bane Laden and longtime friend Zaf Besar, who’s prevalent on Zet’s personal favourite songs on Prelude 101, such as the anthemic ‘Brown Boys’ and ‘After Tomorrow’. Speaking on whether the trap banger came from a celebratory motivation, Zet offers this; “‘Brown Boys’ is merely a small message to budge, for people’s listening, really. It wasn’t really made to celebrate anything but just a message.” But the song is defining for him, as with the romantic ‘Sway’, which is lovingly dedicated to his loyal girlfriend. Furthermore on Zet’s aforementioned rock influence, it can be heard on the declarative album closer ‘Prelude’ and the lyric in the popular track ‘Rapstar’, “Tak nak ikut trend, tapi still hafal lagu Linkin Park in the end.”
“Having the whole crew with me is always a plus. And, it starts from there to tell you the truth.”
Nevertheless, it is ‘Rapstar’ that has managed to gain traction on local radio. “Catering ‘Rapstar’ to be radio-friendly was fun,” he shares before stating the inevitable benefits of radio reach, “Being on the radio really had it for me, and [it pushed] my new bilingual style. The radio coverage really helped to spread my music to non-hip hop fans.” Over an effortless boom bap beat and a guest feature by Jin Hackman, the song intimately details his dreams and struggles of being a rapper in the local scene, from the lack of attention despite performing at numerous shows to dreaming big about becoming a known name in rap by 30 and appearing on television with his crew. In spite of his personal dream of becoming a successful rapper, Zet visualises his achievements with his family and his second family, The Bat Cave, in tow. The 10-member collective continually collaborates and grows together despite individual backgrounds, influences, and jobs. This, of course, calls to mind one of Drake’s seminal single, ‘Started From The Bottom’.
On fans, or a casual crowd, who get roused by his live performances, Zet talks about the symbiotic relationship between the performer(s) and the audience. “Having the whole crew with me is always a plus. And, it starts from there to tell you the truth. If you and your boys don’t feel confident in your own shit, the crowd won’t,” he explains, clearly speaking from experience. “It’s the energy and vibe my boys have in them that help to keep the fire going, and from there, the crowd plays the entire role. They sing and rap the songs, I’m just hyped up ‘cos of them.” The operative word here is “hyped” – it’s truly no exaggeration, however, when one sees kids at his shows getting extremely pumped, some screaming and jumping from adrenaline, some even falling to the ground during moshing.
Zet alludes to a new chapter to his music with latest singles ‘Yih’ and ‘Gua Di Dalam Gua’. “It’s a whole new project I’m doing, which will be nothing like Prelude 101,” he teases before adding, “a lil’ boost of confidence, maybe a tad of cockiness in my act won’t harm.”