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'Flip Da Skrip': Offers the history of hip-hop

Marcel Thee
Marcel Thee

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Mon, November 5, 2018 | 10:12 am
'Flip Da Skrip': Offers the history of hip-hop

Flip Da Skrip: Kumpulan Catatan Rap Nerd (a rap nerd’s collection of notes) by Herry Sutresna (aka “Ucok Homicide”) (Shutterstock/Elevation)

The second collaborative effort between independent book publisher Elevation Books and hip-hop musician and historian Herry Sutresna (aka “Ucok Homicide”) has yielded another surefire hit.

Flip Da Skrip is an in-depth look into the last 10 years of hip-hop that is as insightful as it is personal. Delivered with Ucok’s characteristic wit and academic-yet-personable style of prose, the book is incredibly effective as a introduction of hip-hop as both a growing cultural force and as an affecting form of art for those not too familiar with the genre.

Fully titled Flip Da Skrip: Kumpulan Catatan Rap Nerd (a rap nerd’s collection of notes), the book collects writings Ucok has produced in the past 10 years. They range from personal “best of” lists and analytical pieces to historical assessments related to the genre.

They focus mostly on hip-hop on an international scale, showcasing the author’s well of knowledge and perspective, with some textural context that lends some rare local insights but no real information on the local rap scene.

The book follows 2016’s Setelah Boombox Usai Menyalak (After the Boombox Stops Barking), also published by Elevation Books, which is a division of the indie record label Elevation Records.

Unlike Boombox, the latest book feels more thorough and academic -- and as a result feels like a deeper experience as a whole. It has 240 pages and made up of 26 chapters, with more than half of that being new pieces exclusively written for the book. The rest includes pieces published through a variety of mediums, including Ucok’s personal blog.

Flip Da Skrip also has some of the best layout design a local book has ever had. Almost like a coffee table art book in its dynamism, the book features a mix-color within its pages and chapters as well as beautiful typefaces and sets in its typography. There are even cut-able cover sleeves for Ucok-approved mixed tapes included.

For Ucok, music is always personal, and it comes off in his writing here.

“Even when you are simply analyzing something, it comes from a personal space wherein you enjoy music. I’ve always wanted to know how (influential hip-hop trio Beastie Boys’ seminal album) Paul’s Boutique was produced, for instance, or how the first sampling occurred. These fundamental things in hip-hop history has changed my life,” Ucok says.

Having arrived in the early 1990s’ Bandung underground music scene, as one of the few musicians not playing rock music, Ucok and Homicide, his hip-hop trio, approached rap with a punk-rock perspective -- digging deep into fanzine culture.

“Those who read zines, are deeply interested in it -- no matter whether they ‘know’ the history or not,” he says.

The book, like Boombox, was an immediate success upon its release last month, owing to Ucok’s loyal fan base, which he has accumulated over the years through his music and activism ((Ucok is also active in on the sociopolitical scene). There is hope that Flip will reach even more people.

“Our goal is to reach as much readers as possible,” says M Taufiqurrahman, Elevation Books’ sole owner and editor. “It is probably the first in-depth and well-designed, well-illustrated book on hip-fop in Indonesia.”

The relationship between Ucok and Elevation, which also released archival recordings by Ucok’s influential, now sadly disbanded rap group Homicide, was built on their shared sense of purpose and passion for music. “It doesn’t feel like a writer-publisher relationship,” says Ucok.

“But more like friends who happen to have a shared taste in music and are in agreement with a lot of things. […] In some aspects, I feel like I also own Elevation,” he half-jokes.

As the book subtitle declares, Ucok sees the book as a collection written “simply by a (hip-hop) fan”.

“Being a fan of music has been a longer journey compared to my journey as a musician or activist, or any other things in my life,” he says. “I’ve been listening to hip-hop ever-since I was in third grade in 1983. So you can imagine the things I wanted to share.”

For the author, the most interesting reads have always been written from a fan perspective, and the way music -- or any kind of passion -- has managed to drive their lives.

Though his fan base has grown increasingly more dedicated by the day -- Homicide reissues sell out in mere minutes -- Ucok keeps it humble. “I don’t have any wild dreams about this book affecting the scene or the world. It’s just some rap nerd notes.”

___________

Flip Da Skrip

by Herry “Ucok Homicide” Sutresna
Elevation Books, 2018 
Indonesian, 240 pages with inserts

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