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The New J-Me: The free man and his escape from fear

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Photo: Phoe Nyan

Myanmar’s second generation hip-hop singer and rapper J-Me has recently become a father for the third time and, a reformed man, went on to release a new album Ah-mwyay-sar ah-myay-khan (Heir). He was just 14 years old when he joined the hip-hop music world and now, at the age of 32, this is his third album after Ko-bawa-Nae-Ko (In My Own Way of Life) in 2007 and Bawa-Ye-Neibban (Paradise in Life) in 2012.

This third album name means a lot about ideological ways of thinking and life for sons or daughters who will enjoy inheritance in cash and kind or reputation from their parents. He especially focuses on what kind of genius a child has had since born.

Sitting comfortably in an office at his father’s house and appearing to be in a happy, fresh mood, the rapper said, “There are different stages in a man’s life. Their level of maturity depends on how he goes through these stages. There might, however, be some stages in life we cannot successfully grow through.

In life, one is born already having a sort of genius to become a photographer or artist or a nation’s leader or something like that. But despite being born a genius, if he or she has no value on the particular abilities, skills, good heart and attitude required for him or her in the position where he or she is, they cannot become a genius.

Likewise, however many children a father has, a child cannot inherit traits from their father if they can’t win their father’s heart and approval. We can only rise to inherit a sort of genius if we have the right level of maturity to deal with it. When I know that I am now, I entitled this album “Ah-myay-sar Ah-myay-khan.” Regarding his life back around 2012, the rapper was losing his way and found it hard to stay on the right track, to lead a good life.

At that time, some people in his circles lead him on the wrong path and he began finding himself caught in unfavourable positions in never-ending circles of bars and night clubs. Despite this, he tried not to lose focus on his profession. But in 2013, thanks to his father’s encouragement, he determined not to quit his career and to keep working hard on a new album to meet his fans’ demand for his music. All the while, however, as with many other celebrities, J-Me faced challenges. “I was trying to focus on making this one album since 2014 but there was no real development. I felt this album should be the best of my work but that period was a mix of productivity and ineffectiveness. What I was making wasn’t a flow of music I liked. I wanted it to be something different from my previous albums: I wanted it to be an upgrade from my previous work.

I reviewed and remade all but three of the songs on the album. Only the lyrics and melody made with Kyar Pauk remain as original. While making it, I faced some challenges: I experienced some groups of people spreading gossip and saying that I had done some cheating and was dishonest to them. I did not reply and just wished for them to be able to escape just like me. People suffering unhappiness inside tend to search for solutions through women and drugs. Some think they want to be in the circle of wealthy people with expensive houses and cars as a kind of prestige and ostentation. The perfect man needs nothing. They were angry when I said I was happy just drinking water.

If you sing a song that reflects your truth, you are really happy. Most artists know what I mean. I did not care and was never shocked about people who left me as I knew that better things would come to me in time,” said J-Me. He sees his third album as a simple one and avoided including anything controversial. “People misunderstand the nature of hip-hop: it’s not just a type of music used for insulting words or being against others or defiant or rebellious. Hip-hop is a blessing on the community, and those who destroy their own community are not the hip-hop musicians. That is why I made this album as simple as I could.

Some might like it but some not, but I did my best and made something I like and enjoy.” One concept behind the album was to share an ideological message focusing on the thought ‘cowards die and the brave stay alive.’  “With this album, I have escaped from fears and sins that I have been running from all my life. Fear is not a sin. There are those who feared ghosts in childhood and still fear them now but they might be most brave during wars. We are sort of slaves who fear each other and it’s not easy to change that. But I tried and can show that I escaped from fear.

I will not go back to fear because there is no fear to go back to,” he said. As one of the icons in Myanmar’s hip-hop world, he wants to share some experiences and messages to the youth who are crazy about music these days. “I have not become a new J-Me in 2017 and 2018. Roughly speaking, I have become clean in thought. Some say my change is connected to religion but truly, it is not concerned with any one thing at all. The thing is if you have freedom inside you, your appearance says you are free. If you live in a village, you cannot see what is really going on in the village until you look at it from the outside.

When I saw myself from the outside, I realized that I wanted to upgrade myself. In 2014, I was finally able to escape drugs when I got the chance to get closer to Jesus Christ as a Christian and then I accepted that He is my savior. As mentioned in the seventh song on this album, I escaped not only from a being a victim of drugs but from being a slave of sin,” J-Me said. Today, he sees the quality of rap music is much better than before. In the past, rap music was made with a lot of software but now the industry’s hardware is good enough.

At the same time, some musicians still tend to follow the wrong route. “If I say why they are on that track, I might be unfair. If you sing a hip-hop song in an American style, it is wrong. They didn’t know enough and even copied American-style singing and nothing improved in their career. Genius is inside you, so see what you are best at and use it appropriately. The day you make honest work, your will be known to the world.”

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Theingi Htun is a journalist who worked for two years at Yangon Times Journal and Flower News. She also worked for two years at Democracy Today News as Senior Journalist. She wrote many articles about culture, the travel sector and lifestyle stories too. Now she is working at My Magical Myanmar as a travel writer and social media executive."

2 Comments

  1. Aung Kyi Soe2018-08-17 14:19:31

    Great article. Thanks!

  2. Phoe Nyan2018-08-18 05:17:29

    Nice

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