Spotcheck: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
My trip to KL was, as almost all of my travel is, spontaneous, last-minute and incredibly loosely planned. I DJed an opening set for a hip hop event in Hong Kong and had a fucking blast. One of the rap groups that performed there had shows planned in a few different cities all over Asia a few weeks after the HK event. I linked up with the group after the show in Hong Kong and decided to join them for the Malaysia tour stop.
I got in on Friday afternoon and the show was that night. All I really had time to do was arrive at the Airbnb and get settled before we had to start getting ready for the evening. I was hyped. I have DJed some cool parties in Chicago and the gigs in HK are starting to come at a higher frequency and for more interesting events thankfully, but this was the first time I have really traveled for DJing specifically. Hopefully it's not the last.
We got to the venue for soundcheck. The spot is in is a district called TREC. I had never really seen a place like it before, there are no actual streets. It was kind of like a strip mall full of new bars and clubs. Malaysia is different to me because it is a muslim country, like Sharia Law and all. It seems like the government might be strict about certain aspects of life, but they also have a ridiculous nightlife scene and lots of other debauchery going on. So it's not too strict, not to tourists at least. I also noticed KL loves hip hop, which is refreshing because the hip hop community struggles in Hong Kong, at least compared to everywhere else I have travelled. The show was supposed to start at 10, but in typical rapper fashion it was about an hour behind. One of the opening acts got shitfaced before his timeslot, and although I think he had fun, it wasn't much fun for the rest of us to listen. Xabitat, the group from the Hong Kong show, crushed their set. Side note, I really like what these Xabitat guys are doing in HK right now and am looking forward to working with them more in the future.
The whole night was lit. The hip hop culture in KL is healthy, and there is a lot of support from other artists and creatives within the scene, once again, something that is lacking within Hong Kong. The event lasted until about 4am, but the performers had to collect their dough, then we had to get some food because we had been out all night. Essentially, we didn't get back to the Airbnb until about 6:30 in the morning. My flight left at 8am Friday morning and I woke up at 5am to get to the airport on time, so by then I had been awake for about 25.5 hours. That was a tough stretch.
All the rappers left early Saturday morning. I opted to stay an extra day to explore the city more because I didn't get to before the event. The only other person from the crew that also stuck around was the videographer, Areeb. After getting not enough sleep, we decided to grab some coffee and lunch and explore a bit. We went to this super local lunch buffet. The sanitation was not what I was used to, even for Hong Kong standards, and I was low key worried I would get sick. After our adventurous lunch, I decided we should peep this skate shop called Wheel Love I had heard about. I thought the skate shop would be a good place to start, not only because I wanted to check it out, but also because I figured people there would have good recommendations for other cool shit to see. Turns out, the shop is located inside a warehouse and they share a space with like a children's adventure park type business. It's like more or less a McDonald's play place on steroids, with trampolines and whatnot. Anyway, we find the skate shop and introduce ourselves and start hanging out and shooting the shit with the guy working. After a nice conversation he directs us to go check out a nearby district called SS15 because there are some praise-worthy restaurants and shops over there. I should mention, this skate shop is way outside the city center and extremely far from where we were staying. When we pulled up, the cab driver's GPS literally called the street we turned onto "Unknown Street Name". SS15 is about two train stops away from Wheel Love, so we probably would have never ventured out this far to either of these places if it weren't for the shop. I love the randomness and spontaneity of traveling with zero plans and obligations and I was appreciative Areeb was down to explore in the same fashion.
SS15 was quite unique. We basically just wandered around and stopped to check out whatever caught our eye. One of the major highlights from this excursion was finding this super dope vintage shop called The Yard. It had some really great vintage band merch and sportswear. I almost bought an old Wisconsin Badgers t-shirt, but it was a bit too small. Before we headed back to the city, I got like a "big gulp" sized freshly squeezed watermelon juice for ridiculously cheap. Actually, everything there was really cheap in comparison to Hong Kong and Chicago.
At the event the night before, I had heard people mention a big hip hop festival taking place in KL all day on Saturday. I didn't get tickets for that, but there was an after party that Areeb and I decided we would check out. Before going to the after party, we met up with Eason, our Malaysia plug. He was the guy that helped Xabitat plan the show there and also DJed at the event the night prior. Eason helped us get to the after party, but unfortunately had to dip before we even got in. After Eason left, it was Areeb and I on our own again. The party was wild and we stuck around til later than we should have and essentially went directly from the club to the airport. I slept pretty much the entire day once I got back to Hong Kong on Sunday.
It was an exhausting weekend, but totally worth it. I have had so many moments throughout my time in Hong Kong where I have had to stop and remind myself how amazing life is. I think it is important to remind myself how amazing it is that I have been able to experience what I have been able to experience the past few months. Writing about what I am doing here is one way I am able to reflect on that. This trip was unforgettable and I genuinely hope to get back to visit again soon.