Often hailed as the capital city of Tamil hip hop, when it comes Tamil hip hop – Malaysian talents are referred to. The staggering success of Vallavan in 2007 brought attention to the Malaysian Tamil independent scene and what it has to offer.
Nonetheless, prior to Vallavan’s immense success, Hyperkinetix, Chakrasonic and BoomerangX popularized the local Tamil hip hop scene – who could have forgotten BoomerangX’s Jokana Cari Makan single and also Hyperkinetix’s Vegam Vivegam album. In addition, it was Chakrasonic’s Feel Good track which grabbed the attention of local listeners, particularly the Malay and Chinese community. Not forgetting also the birth of the music genre – Malaysian sambarock which was popularized by Darkkey, who dominated the local scene for years.
Fast forward, in 2014 – Malaysia has continued to produce a growing number of hip hop talents. While rappers are mushrooming everywhere and with quality being compromised, Malaysia still boosts the best rap talents around.
Thus, after going spending many hours listening and listing the countless Tamil hip hop albums released, we’ve arrived at this – the ten Tamil hip hop breakthrough album. Breakthrough can be defined as the albums which established the rap artist career or had an influence on the Tamil hip hop scene.
What we’ve done is compiled the albums with no specific order, simply because all these albums are of equal brilliance. If you think we might miss out on album worth to be in this list – comment and let us know!
Dr Burn – Zurazamharam (2008)
Carrying on the success of Vallavan and his entry into Kollywood through the track Oh Nenje from the movie Sivi, Dr Burn crafted another lyrical masterpiece through his compilation album – Zurazamharam. The compilation album introduced various faces in the Tamil hip hop scene, namely Stylomannavan, Shevan Raj (now Sheezay), Rude Mack and Vedaz. Needless to say, it was Zurazamharam that opened the doors for these rappers today. Dr Burn’s lyricism and confidence was evident throughout Zurazamharam.
The collaboration with various music acts also proved to be fruitful – with Sasi the Don, Tactmatic, Pluck, M cva, Rabbit Mac and Saranya featuring on the album, it showed Dr Burn’s versatility and diversity on the songs. These days, Dr Burn has re-invented himself with a more spiritual and cultural front. His big hit Naduvan proved that Dr Burn is more than just a rapper on the mic. The hard-hitting Naduvan was well-received for its message in the song. Dr Burn is using what hip hop was originally made for – a tool to spread knowledge and bring awareness. While most rappers take the easy way out and sing about girls, money and booze – Dr Burn’s reinvention might just bring the current Tamil hip hop scene back to its golden years.
Sheezay – Kambathu Rapper (2012)
Upon signing with PSYCHO.unit, Shevan reinvented himself as Sheezay, going along with PSYCHO.unit’s whacky theme – Sheezay’s Kambathu Rapper is his best work to date. A masterpiece, Sheezay’s lyrical and vocal prowess shines throughout the album. Kambathu Rapper also introduced Rubba.Bend (PSYCHO.unit’s first female rapper) through this album. Earlier this year, Sheezay released a mixtape titled Rebranded, although it sounded good, it was not able to match Sheezay’s Kambathu Rapper as it lacked the finesse and punch which Kambathu Rapper possessed.
The Villanz – Asthivaram (2007)
One of the earliest Tamil hip hop groups to release a full-fledge album, The Villanz played an important role in shaping the Tamil hip hop scene during its early years. Their album Asthivaram released in 2007 was considered forward-thinking back then. Consisting of Kash, Capital J and Jamal, the trio went on to dominate the scene during Tamil hip hop early years through their infectious tracks. Tracks such as the self-titled Asthivaram, Ninaivugal, Siraichalai and Rock Your Body shows what The Villanz can do at their best.
While the line-up of The Villanz has changed over the years as both Capital J and Jamal has left the Tamil hip hop group – Kash has continued to push The Villanz brand with award-winning lyricist Maney and young female singer Tunisha joining the line-up. While Capital J has been quiet, Jamal rebranded himself as Jmal and is now pursuing music solo. Over the years, Kash Villainz has worked on several hit numbers, namely Soy Poi and Scooter Vandi, which brought him to limelight. Fast forward, in 2015, The Villanz will be releasing their fourth album – Perusu. The Villanz have been working hard on their music and has been pushing their boundaries by experimenting with different styles – Perusu might match Asthivaram’s success in re-innovating the Tamil music scene.
Emcee Jesz – Kavithai Gundar (2009)
The Vallavan album became a career-defining platform for Emcee Jesz. His raw, gritty and aggressive tone quickly clicked with the Tamil community. It can be said that Emcee Jesz somewhat brought Tamil gangsta rap into the Tamil scene. Soon after Vallavan, Emcee Jesz became one of the most sought after rapper in the Kollywood industry. Thus, it is only fair to say that Vallavan propelled Emcee Jesz into Kollywood and he eventually appeared on the silver screen through Kuruvi, Laadam, Masilamani and more. In Mid 2009, the aspiring and now successful rapper released his solo album titled Kavithai Gundar with Chennai-based record label Studio 8.
His distinct delivery and notable voice was the basis of Kavithai Gundar. Featuring Yogi B, Psychomantra, Mista Gee, Masta K, Neha Bhasin and many more – Kavithai Gundar is Emcee Jesz best work to date. He is currently working on several Kollywood songs and has even hinted that another album is in the pipeline to be released in 2015.
D.I.W.A.N – Paarthu (2010)
In 2010, two relatively unknown rappers got together and released a Tamil hip hop album with the highly acclaimed Kartelhitmen. Stylomannavan and Shevan Raj’s combined artistry brought immediate attention to the duo through their album – Paarthu. Having DJ T-Bone on the music department and big names on the album, such as Dr Burn, Joe Flizzow, Xavier Lock Up and Sasi the Don, Paarthu emerged one of the hip hop gems after Vallavan. A strong online presence, Paarthu was the defining album for both Stylomannavan and Shevan Raj.
SLY Squad – Ithu Chumma Trailer (2012)
2012 belongs to SLY Squad and Shane Xtreme through their runaway success of their debut album – Ithu Chumma Trailer. Fresh faces on the hip hop front, Ithu Chumma Trailer is an eclectic album to say the least. The commercial success of the massive single – Inni Vendham which dominated local music charts caught the public’s interest on what this young team can deliver. The collaboration between SLY Squad (D7 and Mista Carey), Thyivya Kalaiselvan and Shane X’treme worked wonders – and it subsequently, elevated their profiles in the music scene.
Musically brilliant, Ithu Chumma Trailer was the album that made SLY Squad a household name. Packed with various sub-genres of hip hop, from chilled (Iraivu) to hardcore (Tepi Sikit), Shane X’treme and Big Syze detail to music and the youthful nature of SLY Squad rewired the Tamil hip hop scene. While the scene was getting boring with recycled materials, Ithu Chumma Trailer sounded fresher than any other hip hop release, which worked well with the audience. SLY Squad has announced that they have started working on their second album, could this be another genre-bender album?
RABBIT.mac – Ma Carrotz (2009)
Riding on the critical success of the controversial underground Tamil hip hop album – Provoked, Rabbit.Mac immediately caught the public’s attention. The excess profanity and aggressive imagery in Provoked was something new in the Malaysian Tamil hip hop scene – while some heavily criticized the album, others wanted more. Thanks to the track ‘Da Bitchaz’ which circulated on the internet, Rabbit attracted both controversy and acclaim. However, what could not be ignored was the lyrics in Provoked, which took a hard stance on various issues – ranging from child abuse, kidnapping and money lending. Rabbit’s social commentary which was evident in his rhymes was a key factor in Provoked reaching the masses.
Chackrasonic – Kalai Oru Por (2001)
Considered Chakrasonic’s greatest album to date – Kalai Oru Por, this album cemented Chakrasonic’s history in the Tamil hip hop scene in a global scale. The chemistry of the trio – Viveck, Jack and Vijay created the best lyrical interplay in the Malaysian music scene during that time. The seamless transitions between each rapper, alongside Damien Shorty Soul’s composition nailed each track to finesse. Tracks such as ‘Feel This’ and ‘Phase Two Anthem’ reached the wider Malaysian community and Chakrasonic eventually gained recognition as the trendsetters of the Malaysian Tamil hip hop scene. One track which elevated Kalai Oru Por was Nadpu Illai. While the rap track is somewhat similar to Eminem’s Stan, the track became a favourite among local listeners as the verses touched on love.
Following the success of Kalai Oru Por, Chakrasonic released several more albums with Rise of the Brammahs and Veera Puranam attracting success. While Viveck is still actively in the music scene – his recent release – Graamatthu Ponnu with Shantra was a viral hit, the other members of Chakrasonic have been quiet. Viveck is set to release his album Eyekon, with Shantra, most probably in 2015. Nonetheless, there also has been talks that Chakrasonic might re-unite but nothing has been confirmed.
Psychomantra – Punithamana Thulasi (2011)
Starting his hip hop journey in a Singaporean polytechnic, Psychomantra’s Punithamana Thulasi is considered one of his finest album. Along with his recognizable flow and with Deejay Gan supplying the beats, Punithanama Thulasi is an album highlighting the finest the Malaysian Tamil hip hop scene has to offer. Featuring acts such as Haze Freaky G, Sri Rascol, Saint, Dr Sakthi, Crank, Darkkey, Stylomannavan, Rabbit Mac, Sheezay, Reshmonu, Balan Kashmir, Kash Villainz and many more, Punithamana Thulasi is a must-own album if you are into Tamil hip hop.
Yogi B and Natchatras – Vallavan (2007)
Consisting of Yogi B, Dr Burn and Emcee Jesz – Yogi B and Natchatras brought Tamil hip hop to an international level through their magnum opus album – Vallavan. Basing the success of Vallavan on its lyrical mastery and localized hip hop beats, the music album immediately caught the attention of the masses. Yogi B’s detail to perfection, accompanied with Dr Burn and Emcee Jesz vocal presence – Vallavan became a critical hit and a huge commercial success. From the famous Kollywood industy to the streets of La Chapelle in Paris, Vallavan was embraced as the first internationally-recognized Tamil hip hop album.
The success of Vallavan took Tamil hip hop into new territories and saw the emergence a slew of hip hop enthusiasts carrying the microphone. It is suffice to say, Tamil hip hop has never been the same since the birth of Vallavan. Fast forward today – Yogi B has announced that he is working on his album titled Manthrahood and attempting to utilize the Natrchatras concept. While Dr Burn has been rumoured to be working along side Yogi B and the identity of the other rapper has been concealed. If Vallavan was able to lift the Tamil hip hop scene, we are hoping Manthrahood will set the record straight.
2015 is going to be a defining year for Tamil hip hop. With many exciting releases, there is much more to look forward to. Yogi B and the Natchatras will be releasing Mantrahood, Rabbit has announced his third compilation album, SLY Squad has also made it clear that they will be making a comeback. Rap heayweight Emcee Jesz has hinted a potential album release. Meanwhile, early in January, The Villanz will be releasing their biggest budget album – Perusu which is set to go international. Therefore, 2015 might be the year where Tamil hip hop reinvents itself in its place of birth!