The Playlist of Euginia Tan
We’ve been working together with Euginia for a few months now but nothing prepared us for the moment during her dialogue with Bubble Gum & Death Metal when she said, “I listen to a lot of rap music”. We were too intrigued to leave it at that and immediately got her to send us a playlist.
(From left to right: Stephanie Burt, Samantha Yap, Euginia Tan)
I joined a rap competition hosted by 98.7FM when I was 15. I wouldn't say I was particularly good-looking and fresh out of puberty then, or even camera-friendly and really good at promoting myself, I was awkward, exceedingly shy, gawky and my limbs were still scrawny, but I really, really, really loved to rap. It was called the Hollaback Crew, and we made it all the way to Finals, finishing in third place. We won about five grand at that time, ten years ago, it was the largest amount of money I held in my hand. So basically Hollaback Crew encourages young people to make music on their own, and compose the lyrics based on the beats you've made. I can't remember the exact lyrics and how we got through the auditions, qualifiers, semi-finals and even all the way to the finals, where we performed at the Singapore Indoor Stadium with The Click Five closing the act... But we were so cocky, so young, fresh and full of hope, and we did it without telling the school. When the school found out there was a huge uproar and of course this immediately labelled us as the cool kids, everybody wanted to be associated with us after that. So I am an apt example that anybody can listen to rap, music isn't limited to how you look or what you do.
I so remember that feeling of throwing everything at stake and just going for what I really wanted to do - and that's how I am like with my poetry, creating my poetry, looking for people out there who can work with me and learn with me regardless of the consequences. And I think rap embodies all of that and more, because rap is poetry. It isn't so much about "swagger" and decadence, a life of excess or fast and empty optimism, it's about learning to understand what marginalization has done to us, how we rise above things, most importantly I think hip-hop is a mantra to me to keep on hustling with grace. Strangely I cannot write and listen to beats at the same time, because, well, writing has always been a single-minded task to me. It's something I do without any needs, or desires, and it becomes both meditation and trance-like work which is what really qualifies as productive to me. So how I write is that I take two to three hours of just getting music, beats and lyrics in my head, soaking the rhythms in, this clears my head and I can write pretty smoothly after that.
These are some songs that have helped me write, and accompanied me growing up.
1. Feelin' It by Jay-Z (Phoniks remix)
2. Shine by Audio Push
3. The Roots (The entire Game Theory album)
4. Revolving Doors by Gorillaz
5. Warm It Up, Kane by Big Daddy Kane
(credits to the movie soundtrack, 25th Hour)
6. I left my wallet in El Segundo by A Tribe Called Quest
7. Sunshowers by M.I.A
8. Gangsta Blues by A.R. Rahman
(credits to the movie soundtrack, Slumdog Millionaire)
9. Gin and Juice by Snoop Dogg
10. Warrior's Tongue by Masia One
I'd like to give a shoutout to ShiGGa Shay! I've applied to New Word Order to work with him for a poetry/rap collaboration... Please grant my wish!
Listen to the playlist here.
(While we wait for Spotify to upload Gangsta Blues by A.R. Rahman, we've replaced it with Never Learn by ShiGGa Shay)
Eugnia’s latest book, Phedra, is available for purchase on our website (free shipping!), Kinokuniya and Booktique.