There’s always strength in numbers – but when the whole’s constituent parts are also likewise robust, then you’re in midst of real power. When you stand before the totality that is Unknown Radicals, you’ll feel how that power manifests.
The 10-man hip-hop group that includes rappers Shaun, Hanip, Han Teng, Gabriel and Fee, as well as producer Faiz Shamir, creative director Fikri, videographer/photographer Reuben and graphic designers Erwin and Naveen wields a raw, potent and inspiringly dangerous energy, lightning-in-a-bottle chemistry that makes their music an instant-win proposition. With two EPs and string of singles to its name, the group stand amongst the most ferociously exciting voices in Made in Singapore hip-hop. Below, its members get reflective.
Let’s talk about your most recent release, the lovesick EP.
Shaun: Our producer, Faiz, did it on the spot and we released the lovesick EP when Valentine’s Day was around the corner. We kinda just did it for fun.
Han Teng: It’s totally different from our first EP. We just compiled the tracks together because they had the same vibe. “Sketchy” was the track that sparked the whole thing. It was the track that made us come together to do this.
Gabriel: We were trying to make new sounds. In my opinion, the music in Singapore is bland and boring. So, we wanted to add a spark to this culture.
“It’s not about what we want from the rap game but more of what we can do for the rap game.”
What side of the narrative of love did you want to bring out?
S: I’m not really into making love songs, so I let the rest of the guys take control of it and then put my verses where they fit.
HT: I was going through a rough patch in a relationship. One day, Hanip asked me to do this because we were going through the same thing. Things took off fromt here.
You also worked with Writers’ Block on “WHAT!”?
HT: I was the one in the song and I remember we had our differences when we first met them and we wanted to clear things out. So, I met them and Wyane Hausley, who had also heard their stuff shortly after that, encouraged us to make a track with Slick Bobby from Writers’ Block. Wyane and I was supposed to make a remix of “Stranger Things” by Joyner Lucas but he decided to do this track and we got it done in 30 minutes.
“Go Hard” deals with transcending the struggles of everyday life. What’s the toughest thing you’ve had to go through?
Hanip: Scrutiny. People don’t take us seriously because we are young kids but we are not speaking on behalf of ourselves but more for the community and people from different neighbourhoods. It’s tough because people don’t see the bigger picture in our music.
How do you guys feel about competition?
H: It kind of depends on how relevant they are to us. Let’s say if there’s a fresh crew that just got together last week and they say that they don’t like us, we would advice them to hustle to our level and then take shots. Show me what you can do and then, I’ll respond to you.
S: It’s not because we’re scared that we choose not to respond but it’s whether we give a damn about their existence.
HT: My first reaction will be, “for what?” I’m fine with friendly competition but if you’re going to call somebody out just for fun then we don’t really give a damn about them.
G: You guys are just wasting your time trying to diss us because we’ll take it as a joke and probably shoot back a joke at you. We are the biggest dickheads in town.
E: I will cry in my room if someone calls me out.
Reuben: I think I won’t be phased by it because I don’t see the point of responding. I really don’t care.
What do you want out of the rap game?
S: That’s a very hard question. It’s not about what we want from the rap game but more of what we can do for the rap game. We want to contribute and show that artists in Singapore are progressing towards where they should be instead of where they are stuck at. If you don’t leave your comfort zone, you’re not going to get anywhere. A lot of the rappers here are in their comfort zone. There are very little people who speak up.
H: Hoes. Just kidding. I think it’s more about progressing the rap game. It’s about putting Singapore on the map. I feel like no matter how small we are, we deserve recognition because we are working hard and there are talented artists here. I don’t want anything from the rap game except for all the Singaporean artists to be successful.
HT: We are all trying to experiment. I also feel like Singaporeans don’t take Singaporean artists seriously. But ultimately, we just want to contribute.
G: I just really want to have a lot of fun. I just want to live like a kid for my entire life.
E: I just want Ameer to be in Brockhampton again. I am so sad. Actually, I just want to have fun as well.
R: I want to have fun but I also want the recognition as well. Not going to lie, I’m an attention seeker. I hope Unknown Radicals blows up and becomes the centre of the rap scene.