Arts Music Singapore

Music Is: Rapper ShiGGa Shay samples Singapore-inspired UTOPIA Symphony in latest single “uTopia reimagined: chasing”

Singaporean rapper ShiGGa Shay will release “uTopia reimagined: chasing” on 19 November on all major digital platforms, which sees ShiGGa Shay rapping over the UTOPIA Symphony, Aisyah Aziz on vocals, and Charlie Lim in charge of vocal production.

“uTopia reimagined: chasing” is the third song of the UTOPIA Reimagined initiative, commissioned by the Foundation for the Arts and Social Enterprise (“The Foundation”), which sees four artistes compose their own songs with creative inspiration derived from the UTOPIA Symphony (“the Symphony”) – a Singapore-inspired symphony written by Russian composer Vladimir Martynov, recorded by the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO).

“It was a challenge to incorporate a unique piece like the UTOPIA Symphony as we had to blend and bend different genres together,” says ShiGGa Shay. “It was a fulfilling process to see how everything fell into place, and I hope that through this track, people will be able to appreciate a different side of Singapore”.

Produced by superjdoug, who sampled different parts of the UTOPIA Symphony in the instrumentation, “uTopia reimagined: chasing” is the first track that the three long-time friends ShiGGa Shay, Aisyah, and Charlie, have worked on together, and the first time ShiGGa Shay has sampled an orchestra in his music. “I feel like Charlie brought out a different side of me, as well as a different sound from me – his work on the vocal production has added something different to my usual style of music,” says ShiGGa Shay. “It’s all very new and fresh to me, and this has given me different perspectives on music.”

UTOPIA Reimagined is an initiative that commissions artists to compose a response to Vladimir Martynov’s UTOPIA Symphony, which was originally commissioned in 2003 by then Ambassador to Russia Michael Tay, who currently serves as Founder and Executive Director of The Foundation. The Symphony was recorded by the LPO on its label and released in November 2019. “We are currently on the third release of the UTOPIA Reimagined initiative, and are delighted to see the creativity that all our commissioned artists have been putting into their singles,” says Michael. “As the pandemic changes our individual ideas of “utopia”, it has also changed those of our four commissioned artists. ShiGGa Shay’s track is his reflection on how the pandemic has changed his life, his priorities, and of course, what “utopia” means to him. We hope that listeners will be able to relate to the singles, and think about their own “utopia”.”

ShiGGa Shay was propelled to stardom by the release of English-Chinese-Hokkien rap track “LimPeh” in 2013, which currently boasts about a million views on Youtube. Since then, ShiGGa Shay has been part of major performances such as the 2014 and 2020 National Day Parade. In 2016, he was invited to perform at the White House state dinner after-party. In 2021, he released a collaboration ‘uRight’ with wildly popular Korean-American hip-hop artist Jay Park. ShiGGa Shay’s most recent release was “Passive Aggressive” in October 2021, a track exploring mental health, in collaboration with fashion brand HUGO.

The first track of the UTOPIA Reimagined Series was by jazz vocalist Joanna Dong with《第一章》(The First Chapter) released in September, followed by Aisyah Aziz’s “Euphoria” in October. Following ShiGGa Shay’s “uTopia reimagined: chasing”, the series will be rounded off by a single from Charlie Lim, who is also the executive producer for the Series. For UTOPIA Reimagined, local artist Kenny Low expanded on his original art used for the CD cover of the LPO’s UTOPIA Symphony album.

Listen to uTopia reimagined: chasing here

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