In ‘Cahaya’, ABANGSAPAU delves into the personal – this time, he centres on Hari Raya, a holy period that reminds Muslims of the sacrifices, struggles, and devotion that come with a fulfilling life. It’s a time of reflection: to practice humility no matter the success in your life, and hold dear to the closest people in your heart.
‘Cahaya’ diverts away from ABANGSAPAU’s usual flair for flickering trap drums and low-end exhilaration. It also features the hip-hop artist singing entirely in Malay. In its place are piano keys that dissipate into the ether, turning from grand to ethereal throughout the affair. This time, production work was handled by regular collaborator Prodbydan, along with contributions by musicians Akid Amir, Lucas Tee and Ruben Lee.
A lone acoustic guitar accompanies ABANGSAPAU, who sings about the fleetingness of life – he confronts a sobering truth that his parents will not always be around. His father, who he immortalized in 2022’s ‘Boyhood’, has passed on, along with his uncle and grandparents. His mother is growing older. His youth is fading away. ‘Cahaya’ may commemorate the festive season, but it is unabashedly solemn.
However, in the spirit of Hari Raya, he also sings of compassion and gratitude. “Bila ku tutup mata / Ku teringat masa / Yang sudah terlepas / Ku dah banyak berdosa / Tapi mama pesan / Ingat masa depan / Jawapan ku cari / Selama masa ni / Berada di depan mukaku,” which translates to “When I close my eyes / I remember the times / What has been missed / I have sinned a lot / But my mom insists / to remember the future.”
To reflect on mortality and loss is to celebrate the gift of life. As he puts it, “The lessons and experiences in overcoming mistakes and dealing with grief & depression over the last few years have given me a lot more perspective.”
He adds that, as a musician and a person, he’s now “more focused and intentional in how I do things” – for example, channelling pain and sorrow into a track like ‘Cahaya’ that offers comfort for those who’ve experienced a similar loss. Its music video, directed by Shahrin Bahar, will also be available on YouTube at 9PM tonight.
Having explored another side of his artistry, ABANGSAPAU is eager to head into the rest of the year with a renewed sense of creativity – he has promised 2023 will be a year with more new ABANGSAPAU music than “the past two years combined”, and that he wants to encourage listeners “to dream outside of the limitations they have set for themselves”.
He emphasises on his definition of being intentional as an artist: “These explorations are all done with the intention of honing my personal voice. I refuse to be versatile for versatility’s sake.”
‘Cahaya’ is now available on all digital streaming platforms. The official music video for ‘Cahaya’ will be available on YouTube at 9pm. Stream here.