shigga shay nathan hartono
On Lester: Embroidered cotton jacket, Gucci. Cotton T-shirt, Louis Vuitton. On Hartono: Wool-blend jacket, cotton shirt, and nylon-blend track pants, Prada. All other clothes and accessories, their own

Even if you don’t listen to local music (by the way, you should), there’s no way you could have missed these three dudes who have each accomplished enough in 2016 to keep their careers lit for life.

To jog our collective memory: rapper Shigga Shay, known more humbly as Pek Jin Shen, performed in Washington in August at the after-party of the White House state dinner for Singapore (so yeah, you can say he’s Obama-approved). In the same month, fellow rap artiste Kevin Lester, aka The Lion City Boy, launched his first full-length album Paradise. His first single off it, Yaya – inspired by his Female Collective missus, Aarika Lee – garnered, as of press time, over 60,000 views on Youtube and over 200,000 likes on Spotify. Then, of course, there’s Nathan Hartono, who became a national hero overnight after clinching second place in the heavily watched Sing! China contest, during which he was mentored by Jay “Mandopop King” Chou.

shigga shay nathan hartono the lion city boy singapore rappers

Their infectious energy aside, all three certainly know how to create music to soundtrack the good times. Says Lester: “My music has that heavy bass that propels people to dance.” Similarly, Shay’s tunes are defined by playful lyrics and a strong Singapore flavour – topped with a good dose of Hokkien. Add his highly-charged growl and it’s +65 hip-hop at its most riotous. Proof of both rappers’ party-pulling power? They were crowd favourites at the Ultra Music Festival here in September.

Meanwhile, smooth crooner Hartono, who currently shuttles between Singapore and China to work on his upcoming EP under Warner Music – is all about conjuring up those wholesome, feel-good vibes (come on, his second album’s called Feeling Good). It’s an approach that extends to his own year-end celebration plans: a family trip to Cali.


Grooming Huimin Ng/Paletteinc

Like this? Watch this video of Nathan Hartono, The Lion City Boy and Shigga Shay perform an original number for Female, see how starlets Liv Lo, Fiona Xie and Rosalyn Lee like to party and check out why this social media squad in Singapore can rival Taylor Swift’s.