Passionate, versatile and shy are some of the words that rapper and songwriter, Ashtin describe himself. Previously known as M.I.O which stands for My Intellectual Opinion is now coming out of the woodwork to be a promising and a force to be reckoned with rapper. 2Cents had the pleasure of having a sit down with the upcoming star to discuss on his latest debut album called Chindian the Album.
Was music something you’ve always dreamt of since young? Why?
No, I wanted to be an astronaut first but along the way during school, my love for rap and hip-hop came about. Back in the day, the fashion was baggy pants and streetwear style. As a young kid, I was intrigued by the style at first then I started my passion for rapping. I’ve come to realise that you need a certain amount of skills and learning techniques to rap. For example, punchlines, similes and etc. When I was younger I always loved to write, so I would write poetry and show it to my uncle.
What was the moment you knew you wanted to be a rapper?
I love the studio vibe and the rush I feel from there. Also, I got hooked up through club emceeing and rap. At that moment, I knew that this can be a good deal for me as I love hyping a crowd up and just being a performer as a whole.
How long have you been a rapper?
8 years now and it all started at The Bee in Jaya One for a college event.
How did your career blossom after winning the Red Bull Cypher award?
My manager, Jude was a long time friend of mine and he was starting up a talent agency called Keep It Local, we were talking about working together and I strongly believed in his vision to help me grow. I was the first artist signed to Keep It Local Entertainment. From there on, I was exposed to many things and now I have an album out.
Tell me what was the story behind Chindian the Album?
I wanted to come up with a concept for this album and not merely just releasing songs out to the public. I wanted to do sounds that resemblances about me. With my half Indian, half Chinese roots, I wanted to make it sound fresh and somewhat cultural. In the album, you can hear Chinese, Indian and Malay instruments together with hip-hop beats that made it very “Rojak”. I got Music Kitchen to collaborate together and wrote my own lyrics. It basically about me and my stories that I have experienced put into the album.
In the album, you collaborated with local rapper superstars like Balan Kashmir and Altimet, what did that felt like?
Balan Kashmir is an artist whom I respect a lot and humbled to call him as a long time friend. However, for Altimet, the feeling was so surreal because he was a rapper that I look up to when I was a kid and to be sharing the same studio and song with him is just a dream come true to me.
What was one of the biggest challenges about Chindian the album?
I would write and produce beats for a song a day but one of the hurdles I had to overcome was the mixing and mastering of the entire album to perfect it. The album finished about 3 months.
What do your parents think of your career as a rapper?
They are fully supportive of me and my future plans. My parents always believed that you have to find what you love in order for you to excel no matter any field you are interested in. I am grateful for their faith and support in me through my 8 years being in the limelight as a rapper and emcee.
In your opinion, why do you think we need to urge people to listen and support our local music scene?
If locals are not going to support, then who else would? We need to have recognition of the local scene in every Malaysian artiste in order for us to pursue our career in Asia or even internationally.
What advice can you give to the local music talents?
Just keep doing what you love. Go all the way and never give up. If you want to be an upcoming rapper and also freestyle, you got to start writing a lot, when you do that, you automatically know words that you can use to express and rhyme too.
Who is your musical inspiration?
I look up to songwriter artist. It would be Jay-Z, Biggie, Tupac, Kendrick Lamar and J-Cole.
What are your future plans for next two years time?
I want to collaborate with more people internationally and have a Southeast Asia tour and I’m working hard to make that happen.
Any new music the fans can expect for this year?
This year, we’ll be focusing a lot on producing the promo music video for the album. The latest project that we’re doing is for the song Rappity Dappity. I feel Chindian the Album needs more exposure and that’s what we set it out to be. As for new music, I’ll resume probably after the month of June.
Ashtin’s rap style is lyrically heavy and strives to produce material that is food for the mind too. For more information on his whereabouts and latest news update on Ashtin, do follow his Instagram ashtinonthemic. Listen to the Chindian the Album on Spotify here: Chindian the Album
Special thanks to Keep It Local Entertainment for setting this interview up.