HOMEGIRL Zamaera (pix) remembers watching MTV Asia and dancing to Britney Spears when she was younger.
And just last month, the Malaysian rapper appeared on the music channel’s special episode premiere of Yo! MTV Raps, a revival of the iconic show dating back 30 years, which showcased the best of hip hop.
Representing Malaysia in a cypher with some of Asia’s top rappers, including fellow local Airliftz, Zamaera showed she was completely comfortable in her element with her hard-spitting, fast-talking bars.
The go-getter describes the experience as “kinda surreal” because as excited as she was, her main thought was still on her craft.
“I felt like it didn’t creep up [on] me [nor did I get] that feeling of ‘overwhelmingness’ until [the episode] actually had aired,” she said in a recent sit-down with theSun.
“They asked me to be part of the cypher, so I was excited to come up with something that could really showcase my style of writing and style of rapping.”
Her skill at wordplay in poems and short stories, plus a love for music, served as a catalyst to trying her hand at writing song lyrics, and this has since boosted her presence in the rap game.
“Me being in a male-dominated industry I think has only [served] as an advantage for me, because as a woman, you already get scrutinised by the public anyway.
“So you stick out like a sore thumb, but in a good way, you know.”
While there are already a number of local female rappers, like Kayda and Hunny Madu, the scene is ripe to house more.
“I really think that stemmed from the fact that there was no one person who wanted to step out and go like: ‘Ahhh, let me be a [rapper]’, you know?
“Cause once the first step has been taken, really, the second and the third are easier to [take].”
Zamaera currently has three singles to her credit – “I love all of them, like I will play them constantly in my head,” she said – with the most recent being the hard-hitting track with a fierce delivery, Still Callin’.
She paid tribute to the track’s producer, Aziquebeats, citing the importance of working in a team.
“I had given him a sample of a specific sound that I wanted, and the ending bit where it changes from the second verse he added it on his own – and I thought that was so genius.
“It’s about what they can bring to the table as well, ’cause obviously when you make a song, it’s not just the person who writes the lyrics … it’s the producers, the sound engineers.”
In fact, she acknowledges that the most difficult part of the artistic process is relinquishing control to a larger team, something she experienced while recording her debut EP in the US.
She explained: “When you start with yourself, you’re thinking about how you write the song, how you want the song to sound.
“[I’ve] never given so much control to a team of people ever, because out here, I know exactly what I want to sound like … then when I go there, I realise that everything that I thought I knew, I don’t know.”
Fans can hear Zamaera’s new material when she performs at the Good Vibes Festival at The Ranch in Gohtong Jaya, Genting Highlands, this weekend.
“Everybody, if you want to know, you gotta come to Good Vibes before four o’clock [on Saturday] ’cause that’s when I’m performing.”
At the festival, Zamaera is especially looking forward to seeing US R&B singer SZA perform.
“I feel so strongly [about] SZA, not only because of her music, but because her name is S-Z-A, [which] literally spells out my initials – Sharifah Zamaera Al Edros, S-Z-A. So, it’s like you might be my sister, you know, but I love SZA,” she said with an infectious laugh.
What’s for sure though is that the busy rapper hustles hard.
She finds the time to push out her mixtape DontZzOnMe on SoundCloud, and even has a rap series on social media where she does covers.
“That’s the whole point of me making this rap series,” she said. “It was to show everyone out there that you don’t need to wait.
“You don’t need to wait for somebody to call you and say: ‘Oh, we want you to perform for our show’ … for somebody to say: ‘I want to sign you to my label’.
“I used my iPhone. I recorded it. I edited it … you know, live by that Nike slogan – Just Do It – because if you’re waiting for the right circumstances, you’ll always be waiting.
“You have to nurture the talent, the talent doesn’t nurture you.”