KUALA LUMPUR, July 9 — Rapper Arunboii grew up in Klang, in a community made up largely of blue collar workers, mostly Indians.
His debut single Enge Port has already garnered more than 83,000 views on YouTube and is being viralled on TikTok. It is about the daily struggles and stigma that many working-class Indians face in Malaysia.
Something that Arunboii knows and has experienced personally; how people generalise Indians as thugs just because of the way they look.
“People always say those from Klang are gangsters, that’s why I created this song and the video to depict visually that most of these Indians are just working class people.
“First impressions when they see you’re dark they assume you’re a bad person but in reality we’re just working people. I want to show that the optics are wrong and that not all of us are drug dealers,” Arunboii told Malay Mail.
In the video directed by Buddha X, Arun starts off standing between two police cars, handcuffed and in prison attire.
The video then goes on to show a tow truck driver, mechanic, car washer, scrap metal worker who eventually through hard work become successful.
Later on, he takes on the Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar persona and brandishes a gun and stacks of money while standing and rapping in front of a mansion.
He said this is where he would have ended up if he had become a criminal. He said a lot of people fall into this category where they deify gangsters and underlord kingpins.
“I did that Pablo Escobar scene because people always think Indians are drug dealers.
“But the truth is if you go down the wrong path, in the end the authorities will always catch you. That was something I wanted to portray and that temptation is always around the corner and it’s easy to get caught up in it.”
Since his mother’s death in 2013, he has been on his own. (Arunboii s father had died 10 years earlier in 2003.) So, from the age of 19, he has had to fend for himself.
Arunboii, whose real name is Arun Syarma, started working at a supermarket once he finished his SPM. After that, he worked at a logistics company.
Right now, he is working as a forwarding officer.
“I however believe there are no shortcuts in life and that’s what my video and song are about. It's also about unity and if we unite, we can be strong and successful. I feel that in reality many can relate to this.”
Arunboii loved rap from the time he was a kid and credits Eminem and Nathan John Feuerstein better known as NF as some of his influences.
His biggest influence, however, is his close friend Havoc Mathan, one half of the infamous Havoc Brothers who are rappers, performers and social media influencers.
Arunboii used to hang out with Mathan a lot where he learnt the ropes and got a leg up in the industry.
Arun started getting prominence when he took part in a Cypher called Future Fresh 2021. He had prior to that been rapping and rhyming on Instagram.
At the Cypher, Arun rapped alongside other local artists like AK47 and Armacilla and his smooth flow and catchy rhymes saw his fame rise.
Most of the video was shot in January and February, 2020 before the nationwide lockdown hit. They then had to wait till March this year to finish the final scene and edits.
“At any given point we had only three people to shoot our videos. Me, the director and one cameraman.
“I played many roles in the video and had to cut my hair in different ways so that took some time and when the lockdown happened, we dropped everything. Now finally my video is ready and I want to see how well it does.
“As an independent artist, it's harder to get recognition but I have more songs I want to put out. I could not have done this video without the help of the people I mentioned to you and I hope my video can shed some light and positivity,” he said.
Related Articles Rapper, actor DMX, five-time Billboard chart topper, dead at 50 Covid-19: Doctor’s project of healthcare workers singing Man Bai’s ‘Kau Ilhamku’ is tribute to frontliners, Malaysians (VIDEO) Rhymes to riches: Def Jam banks on SE Asia rap stars