Born in Kajang and raised in Setapak, Malaysian rapper songwriter Yonnyboii has made his name in the local music industry after clinching the title Best Album at this year’s Anugerah Industri Muzik (AIM) as the music gala returns after a five-year break. The 24-year-old has made history by being the first-ever hip hop artist to win the category since the award show’s inception in 1993. A record-breaker and one of this year’s Men of the Year recipients, here’s Yonnyboii in his own words.
First of all, congrats on winning Best Album at the AIM awards in September! How do you feel about the success and support you’ve garnered over the years?
I couldn't have done it without the people behind my back. They’ve constantly supported and guided me throughout my days as an artist, and I haven’t been in the industry for long. Of course, I’m very grateful to my fans too. They’ve been with me through my ups and downs, and they have always been listening to my songs. It has always been my dream to win Album of the Year. It was something I thought about often when I was younger—whether I would still be able to do what I do five years down the road. Nonetheless, I believe I have a lot more in me to offer.
What are some of your musical inspirations and how do they go into creating your music?
I have been listening to several new artists recently, I think they are coming up with a lot of fresh ideas and unique sounds that even OG (slang for someone that is an originator, especially one that is highly respected or regarded) singer songwriters have picked up the concepts. So, I’m trying to keep up with the game since I’m no longer considered a rookie in the industry anymore. I’ve even been looking for ways to change the way I usually do things; from the way I direct my music videos to my style even. I think it’s good to always incorporate something different. Hopefully everyone will be able to notice the little changes in my new album that will be out soon!
During the Good Vibes Festival this year, you performed with your mentor, Joe Flizzow who was also one of our Men of the Year recipients in 2009. What is something you’ve learned from him as a musician who has been in the industry for far much longer than you did?
I feel like he has played such a huge role in my career and I honestly think that I owe it all to him. He has taught me a lot and guided me along the way, but the one thing that stuck with me is that I should not be bogged down by what people say and just focus on making music. He mentioned that it’s important to remember my identity. When you’ve been in the music industry for as long as Joe has, one can easily fall into the mainstream, consequently losing that special juice—what makes them them.
Yonnyboii is wearing Emri Vision while the boots are his own and Girard-Perregaux Neo Bridges “Earth to Sky” Edition in titanium, courtesy of The Hour Glass