Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My Jakarta: Yacko, Hip Hop Mom

Yacko appears in The Jakarta Globe. Below you can see the article that was written by Fariez Setiawan. Thx Fariez, Nice piece!

Yani Oktaviana, 29, is no ordinary housewife. She is also known as Yacko, a female rapper, and teaches marketing, PR, human resources development and management at INTI College in Jakarta. She also finds time to work as a DJ at Global FM.

While on maternity leave, she told us why she likes to stay so busy, and why she wouldn’t mind if her daughter followed in her footsteps as a rapper.

Why do you rap under the name Yacko?

It’s an old nickname that I’ve had since junior high school. I was a tomboy, and my friends said that Yani was an inappropriate name for me; too feminine, they said. They started calling me Yacko instead, playing on the first two letters of Yani and Oktaviana.

Why rap? Why not pop music or emo?

Rap music represents the way I think. It’s fast and crammed with words. In one verse alone you can express so many things. And I love the beat of drums and bass in hip-hop. I fell in love with rap when I was 13 years old, listening to the radio and collecting cassettes. In 1992, I attended a rap competition in Surabaya and joined the Pumpkin Rapper Crew, where I learned more about lyrics and beat block. When I was 16, I recorded a compilation album called “Pesta Rap [Rap Party] 2.”

What about when you’re lecturing, do you ever rap for your students?

No! But sometimes, when I explain something and I talk too fast, my students tease me, “Miss Yacko’s started rapping!” Sometimes, I use rap music terminology to explain certain subjects. For instance, when I explained the meaning of “fat,” which can mean “very rich” in rap songs.

What subjects do you teach?

I teach marketing, PR, HRD and management.

When the college employed you, did they know who you were?

They knew, and weren’t concerned about my appearance, even though I was sporting dyed blonde hair and pierced body parts. My students, on the other hand, knew nothing about me. When they saw my medallion bearing the name “Yacko,” they asked me, “Hey, Miss Yani! Are you a Yacko fan?”

You teach a wide array of subjects. What was your major?

I was in the business management MBA program at Wollongong University, Australia.

US rappers speak more about social issues, while Indonesian rappers touch on seemingly lighter subjects. Why is that?

Actually, the media associates rap music in Indonesia with teenagers and we’re forced to conform to the market demand. We bring up similar subjects, but shift the lyrics in ways that are more palatable for Indonesians. People here like parodic and catchy lyrics, so we soften them. Owing to our cultural differences with Americans, we steer away from profanity. Sometimes we even mix hip-hop music with gamelan, without losing the poetic content representing the social issues.

How is the rap music scene here? Are there rap battles?

Hip-hop and rap music came to Indonesia around 20 years ago, but it’s still growing. Saykoji [another Indonesian rapper] once set up Hip-Hop Asongan, which was a freestyle [rap] battle on the street. It was a fun and entertaining show, and seeing the performances of Indonesian rappers in action attracted more people to hip-hop and rap music.

You’re a mother, a wife, a rapper, a lecturer and a radio DJ. If you could only do one of these things, which would you choose?

You have to set motherhood and the life of a wife aside. Those two roles are my destiny as a woman. While the rest are my professional passions. As a rap singer, a lecturer and a radio DJ, I can share my musical and practical knowledge with others. Through rapping and DJing, I can inform my listeners about social issues and cool rap music. As a lecturer, I can discuss practical knowledge with my students.

As a wife and a mother, I learn more about myself. Especially about how to control my ego in order to maintain harmony with my loved ones. All in all, my roles are for developing and motivating others and myself as a person. It’s a learning process.

What about your 1-month-old daughter, Alana? Would you be happy if she wanted to follow in your footsteps?

It’s entirely up to her. I will not push her into rap music, she can choose any kind of music or profession she likes. But, the funny thing is, when I was carrying her, I played classical music like Mozart, just like the media tells us to if we want to develop our babies’ aptitude. Her response was to kick and turn as if she didn’t like it. When I played hip-hop music, she calmed down and kicked to the beat. Now, I lullaby her to sleep with hip-hop music.

What’s the next project that you have lined up?

I want to produce a compilation album of Indonesian female rappers. We have many aspiring female rappers who are still unknown. I want to introduce them to the public. And God willing, my third album will be launched by the end of the year.

Yacko was talking to Fariez Setiawan.


Hi best buddies! how have u been?

I just wanna say hi and happy fasting for those who celebrate Ramadhan.For others, i hope u all in a good shape.

I oso wanna let u best buddies kno dat Yacko has twitter now. To find out any updates about Yacko, please just search Yacko or go to

Let's begin 2 tweet each other :)

Much Luv,