Around the World with A-Trak, Part XX: A Taste Of Asia Tour - Week 1

June 12, 2009

This humongous cross-continent tour was a great success as much on a professional, gig level as on a personal fulfillment level. I'm going to break it up by week for the blog because I have lots and lots of stories. Let's sit around the campfire, so to speak.

The Asian leg, dubbed "A Taste of Asia", started in Kuala Lumpur. KL is a very interesting city. I first went there two years ago on a Kanye tour. To me a lot of it looks like a '60s sci-fi movie set. There's a fair amount of wealth there, the oil industry is huge and the main oil company, Petronas, practically runs the country. The famous Petronas towers are the tallest twin building in the world and they look otherworldly. Walking around, I was amazed at how many shopping malls there were. It seemed like we were just going from mall to mall to mall. That's because it's just too hot to walk around outside for a long time. Speaking to the local DJs, I found out that not that many DJs from my scene had been to KL for gigs. There seemed to be quite an anticipation: ever since I announced the Asian tour dates it seemed like more people were hitting me on twitter about that city than the other ones. I was playing a club called Zouk and my hotel was just across the street. That hotel was phenomenal, one of these modern design hotels where there whole world can see you take a shower. The KL show proved to be a good template for the rest of the tour. It's a big club with a heterogenous crowd. Half the crowd looks my usual fans and half the crowd looks like regulars who go to the big dance club every week. The fun part is to get them all on the same page, especially when that's by pushing Fool's Gold, pushing my tracks, and seeing the local DJs spread the gospel too.

Up next was Singapore, a city that's definitely gotten more international DJs in its clubs, although of course it shares a lot of history with Malaysia. We always hear about the strict, authoritarian side of Singapore but honestly you don't sense that side when you're visiting. It's more of a general sense that people are organized; I didn't meet any slouches. This is a country that barely has any natural resources but thrives simply on infrastructure. The club there was also Zouk, part of the same franchise. This one was very impressive. First of all they've been around for 18 years and they give their resident DJs a weekly allowance to buy records, so there's a record room backstage that completely filled with vinyl. It's actually two rooms. Second, the owner of the club is a 62 year-old art enthusiast and one of the rooms has original Warhols, Basquiats and Murakamis. Third, the sound is incredible, even just the monitors. I swear I heard details in the low end of certain songs that I never knew existed. I even extended my set, I was feeding from the crowd and just didn't want to stop.

After this I had a day off so I did some tourism. I linked up with the homies from FALSE who had reached out through our mutual friend Mr Lupe Fiasco, and they chronicled it on their blog. I had some local food—somehow "chicken and rice" doesn't sound that exotic but they prepare it a special way—then visited the streetwear stores and the little boutiques. After dinner they took me to the famous Night Safari, which is exactly what it sounds like: a zoo that's only open at night. In fact it's only open from 7pm to midnight, those animals have a good union. You can read specifically about this adventure in this blog post, it was one of the highlights of my month for sure. Just when you think you know about a lot of weird animals, you run into a mouse-deer and you feel like a kid again. Finally at the end of the night we went to the red light district, not for some hookers but because that's where you find the best fruit markets. Again, more pics in that same blog post.

Singapore hotel review:

From there I went to Manila. That was a big change of environment. Manila's pretty wild, people drive like lunatics. Someone said "yeah we have lights but they're just suggestions". As soon as I arrived I became fascinated with Jeepneys, these strange decorated jeep-bus hybrids used for public transportation. The hotel where I stayed was more like an apartment, it had two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The promoters explained to me that they originally wanted to do a warehouse party but couldn't get permits so instead they went for the complete opposite: the show was in a big, high-class club and the idea was to turn it out and bring our type of crowd in there. I'm on the cover of the current issue of Status magazine out there and some people had blown-up cardboard posters of the cover. I did an interview for MTV right before my set. I was happy to see we had a packed crowd on a Monday! Pure party vibes, not too techno but not too throwback either. Peep some pictures from the night here and here.

The next day was a day off and I was beat, especially because I was having such a hard time falling asleep after my gigs out there. In the afternoon I was debating between napping back at the hotel or going to a restful spa. I went to this nice spa and booked a two hour aromatherapy massage thinking I could fall asleep half the time. But it turned out to be a Thai massage where they twist your body in all sorts of unnatural positions and stand on your back! Not much sleeping there. I loved when the lady asked "is OK for me to massage the buttock now?". (Answer: Yes.) Later that night we went to do see some sights: they brought me to the Intramuros neighborhood which is the old part of town built by the Spanish 500 years ago and surrounded by fortress walls. It was awesome walking around there at midnight, riding rickshaws and soaking in all the history. We went to two clubs afterwards and called it a night. I remember coming back to my hotel at 4am and getting on a conference call with my agent and my manager. Work is never over... and that time difference is a killer.

From The Collection:

Around The World With A-Trak
Posted: June 12, 2009
Around the World with A-Trak, Part XX: A Taste Of Asia Tour - Week 1