There was a time when “thread” used to be a word associated only with sewing and craft. That time has made way for a new association – forums. Issues are posted as threads, related ideas as topics and opinions as replies. There’s no doubt that forums are one of the main ways to communicate in this current age. But how did the Hip Hop community in Singapore interact online, before mediums such as forums, and the Messenger groups, hit our shores?
The answer, mIRC, or Internet Relay Chat. A few years back, channels such as #hiphop, #mutant_emcees, #artcrimes, #keystyle and #bazement played house to individuals from all over Singapore and beyond. It didn’t matter whether one was involved in the scene or just had the interest to know more about it or the people in it. Acquaintances were made and views were exchanged over frequent chats. Let’s take a walk down my memory lane and get to know more about the channels.
I reckon the reigning channel was #hiphop, with its massive number of regular chatters and constant new additions. Almost everybody from the Hip Hop scene went there, so it’s hardly a wonder why this was the best channel to go to. Simply put, the line-up of regular chatters was impressive. Even I got a little star-stricken at times.
As for #mutant_emcees, there were lesser chatters but the channel still had quality. I was present at one of their gatherings, and I got the impression that the regulars were a friendly and wacky bunch. Sadly, that was the only one I ever went to.
How about #artcrimes? Through it, budding graffiti artists, a.k.a “toys”, had the opportunity to be acquainted with some of the finest graffiti artists in Singapore. I am glad to say that more often that not, the experienced writers appreciated questions asked and generously helped new writers.
Had some textual skills to share or obtain? You would probably have landed in #keystyle, where freestyles were done via keyboard. It might not be as good as freestyling, but keystyling’s not easy either. This channel hosted chatters with the intention to improve their lyrical skills.
I don’t know much about #bazement, but a reliable source told me that it was the channel where newbies mingled. It was the youngest channel of all, by age and by the chatters’ age group. Whatever it was, it still contributed to the interaction of the Hip Hop scene in Singapore.
I remember my excitement when I got to know some cool individuals from the channels. You could’ve never expected who you would end up chatting with. It might’ve been the person you saw performing last week, that person whom you thought did great graffiti, a rocking dancer or even someone you saw at a gig. Everyday was a surprise. New crews were formed, members were recruited and friends were made.
What I liked most about mIRC was the sense of belonging. You could go to any channel you wanted, unless of course, if the channel operators were having a bad day and moderated the channel. And hey, you could change nicknames according to whatever you wanted at the moment, just like Messenger, only it was restricted to 9 alphabets.
mIRC was the in-thing, but what happened to it?
Firstly, hackers made their way into #hiphop and took over the channel. Soon after the regulars left, lesser people started coming in. And like an epidemic, absence of chatters hit all other channels. I’m uncertain of the reasons to why other channels started dying down but it could’ve been due to #hiphop being taken over. Changing personalities and personal issues could’ve also contributed to the downfall of the mIRC community. Another reason might’ve been the rise of MSN Messenger. Online chatting became elite chatting, where you only added who you wanted.
Now, we have forums in sites like Beats-Society.com and Divine-Aura.com. I have to admit that the forums are more effective in publicising events and information regarding Hip Hop, but somehow, I still miss the mIRC era. I’m not sure how many of you were part of the community, or whether this article is a reminiscing moment or a slightly informative read to you. Either way, it wasn’t meant to be an exact documentation of what was in the past, but more of my own recollection of the Hip Hop community in Singapore interacting through mIRC. Or as the title suggests, I’m moon walking my memories.
Would mIRC find its way into our scene again? I doubt so. Even if it did, I reckon it would lack the lustre it once had. And man, the last time I checked, mIRC had become a place of lame and sex-crazed people. Bah!