Indonesian hip hop is hip hop music created in Indonesia.

History and styles

Hip hop music began to be produced in Indonesia in the early 1990s, with the first Indonesia artist to release a full-length hip hop album being the emcee Iwa K.[1] It became especially popular in the eastern provinces, such as of Papua and Maluku. As of 2023, the 50th anniversary of hip hop music since its birth in New York City, the genre is still going strong in Indonesia.[2]

Many Indonesian hip hop groups rhyme in the Indonesian language, but there are also groups that rhyme in English. Variously, songs often combine formal Indonesian with street slang, youth code, regionally colored pronunciations, and even expressions from regional languages (typically Javanese, Sundanese, or Betawi). Indonesian hip hop is often mixed with heavy metal, dubbed "hip-metal". Groups such as Iwa-K and Denada produce music in this style.[1]

One key feature of Indonesian hip hop that is different compared with American hip hop is that the language used in Indonesian hip hop is more polite and does not use vulgar language, and does not often make references to sex and violence.[3]

Indonesian hip hop music is a youth subculture. It has been seen as a form of protest against the New Order government's state-imposed understanding of the Indonesian cultural identity. It has largely been condemned by key political figures such as former president B.J. Habibie. In January 1995, Habibie raised objections against organising an Indonesian rap festival.[1] As reported in the weekly magazine Gatra, Habibie stated:[4]

The younger generation shouldn't want to be enslaved by an aspect of foreign culture which isn't even liked in its own country. It's not even appropriate over there, much less in Indonesia. It's not suitable... I don't agree with it because it's of no use whatsoever, especially for the young generation.

Papuan hip hop musicians often examine political issues such as Papuan independence.[2]

Indonesian hip hop musicians

As of 2005 other Indonesian hip hop groups and solos included Neo [id],[5] Boyz Got No Brain [id], Sweet Martabak [id], Saykoji [id], ZeckoZICK [id], Zero Nine, Behind Da Board, Borneo Clan, Jie Rapp, and female rapper Yacko [id].[1]

Rich Brian gained internet popularity through his single, "Dat Stick" in 2016, with the song peaking at number 4 on the U.S. Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart.[6]

The Jogja Hiphop Foundation (JHF), founded in 2003, infuses Indonesian culture into their music. They believe that traditional Javanese wayang kulit and gamelan music form solid bases for hip hop to build on. JHF's musical inspiration comes from a variety of diverse indigenous sources such as gamelan, local folktales, shalawatan, dangdut, and Jathilan. In 2014, JHF also started a clothing brand, Bom Batik.[7]

Papuan hip hop artist Epo D'Fenomeno (real name Onesiasi Chelvox Urbinas[8][9] aka "Epo"), a Papuan of the Biak tribe,[2] is a rapper and producer who started making music in 2005[8] and began recording in 2007. Epo is a major influence in the Indonesian hip hop scene, having produced hundreds of singles, founded a music studio and record label, as well as managing six rappers.[2] He also runs free classes for young people to learn how to sing and compose lyrics for rap music, and works with friend and co-producer Ortis Yarangga to produce his own music. His label is called Rum Fararur,[8] which means "house for work" in the language of his father's home town, Kabupaten Biak Numfor. His home and studio are located on premises in the Abepura area of Jayapura City. In 2018, Epo, representing Papua province, won third place in the "Beef Rap Battle" in Jakarta (where he lived for three years), worth Rp 30 million. This was followed by a performance at the 17th anniversary celebration of a national media outlet. In 2021, he performed at the closing ceremony of the 20th National Sports Week in Jayapura, with musician Alffy Rev and singer Nowela Mikhelia.[9]

As of 2023, other popular hip hop musicians in the eastern provinces include:

Others across the country active in 2022 include:[10]


  1. ^ a b c d Bodden, Michael (2005). "Rap in Indonesian Youth Music of the 1990s: "Globalization", "Outlaw Genres", and Social Protest". Asian Music. University of Texas Press. 36 (2): 1–26. doi:10.1353/amu.2005.0015. ISSN 1553-5630. JSTOR 4098514. S2CID 56253553.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Renaldi, Erwin; Souisa, Hellena (13 August 2023). "Hip hop has just turned 50 and in Indonesia's east it's stronger than ever". ABC News (Australia). Retrieved 14 August 2023.
  3. ^ Nico Colombant for The Indonesian Observer, Cinere, Jakarta, 1997, Iwa-K and his Cinere Posse
  4. ^ Massardi, Yudhistira A.N.M. 1995 "Si Bawel Kena Omel." Gatra 21:106–07. (It reads as follows in Indonesian: Generasi muda jangan mau diperbudak unsur budaya asing yang di negaranya sendiri tak disukai . . . di sana saja tidak patut, apalagi di Indonesia, tidak cocok . . . Saya tidak setuju karena tidak ada manfaatnya sama sekali, terutama bagi generasi muda. . . .
  5. ^ "About". NEO -. 21 January 2011. Retrieved 14 August 2023.
  6. ^ Brian, Rich (9 August 2016). "Rich Chigga: "I Wasn't Trying To Offend Anyone"". The Fader (Interview). Interviewed by Wang, Steffanee. Retrieved 14 August 2023.
  7. ^ Mohamed Nasir, Kamaludeen (2020). Representing Islam: Hip-Hop of the September 11 Generation. Indiana University Press. ISBN 9780253053077.
  8. ^ a b c "An Inspirational Story of Epo D'Fenomeno: Papuan Rapper Pursuing Dreams". Good Morning Papua. 5 October 2022. Retrieved 14 August 2023.
  9. ^ a b Costa, Fabio Maria Lopes (31 July 2023). "Epo D'Fenomeno empowers young people through rap". (in Indonesian). Retrieved 14 August 2023.
  10. ^ Guanzon, Sofia (15 June 2022). "10 Indonesian Hip Hop And R&B Artists To Check Out Right Now". HipHopDX. Retrieved 14 August 2023.
  11. ^ "Yogyakarta Rapper ZeckoZICK Establishes Record Label Called Crime Unit Records, Reveals His Goals". Tribunnews. 18 September 2023. Retrieved 27 February 2024.

Further reading