Malaysian rapper in hijab Bunga never dreamt of being a musician
One of the only known female rappers to wear a hijab and baju kurung, a traditional Malay dress, at her performances, Bunga who had recently performed in Singapore for the Malay arts festival "Pesta Raya" had initially dreamt of being either a politician or lawyer.
Bunga, whose real name is Noor Ayu Fatini Mohd Bakhar is from Perak, the fourth-largest state in Malaysia. The became popular after 19-year-old became famous after a video of her performing in baju kurung in a local rap competition went viral in November. "When I reached the venue, I was wearing regular clothes," Bunga said.
But even though she was the only female at the event, she did not stand out. "At the very last minute, I bought myself a baju kurung at the venue itself."
Her popularity soared earlier this year when she was invited to rap at a cypher show "16 Baris" that takes place in a barbershop. The show features up-and-coming talents from around Southeast Asia.
Bunga raps about her own personal life, her experiences of being bullied, facing love, and working at a gadget shop. She also gives advice to girls through her rap. She steers clear of obscenity and racism. "(Being a female rapper) doesn't mean I have to act like boys or talk about gangsters," Bunga said.
But rapping in traditional garments comes with its own challenges. "We can't jump around so much wearing baju kurung," said Bunga. Another challenge is facing criticism. Bunga said she has been criticiSed for "bringing down the image of women" by rapping in a hijab.
Bunga said she is not deterred and she is "living proof" that women can make it in a male-dominated rap. "I've realiSed that there are more hijabis who want to rap. I think that's a good thing because you shouldn't worry about what others say."
Now based in Kuala Lumpur, Bunga is dreaming big. "I want to make a lot of songs. I want to go on tours. I want to release albums. I want to go worldwide."