Meet True Creative Activist: Nova Ruth

Nova Ruth is a deeply beautiful soul. She one in a couple hundred million…..literally. Rapper, singer, musician, and activist all embodied in her 5’3 frame from Malang, Java in Indonesia. We e-met back in April after I found her myspace page. I was really feeling her music and sent her a message on facebook complimenting her on it. From there, we stayed in touch. I told her I would love to bring her to Bali to perform at a monthly event that I was doing, that focused on substance based artists. Though I have yet to do that event since returning to Bali, I was blessed to be able to work with the Ubud Readers and Writers Festival this year to create and organize the Hiphop IS Harmony Concert in Bali and…*cough*… tour in Surabaya, Jogja and Jakarta. When I was okay’d to bring an Indonesian artist from Java to participate, Nova Ruth was my first choice. We would meet a month prior, at the Ilmu Hiphop Festival in Jogja, which she performed and did workshops and we had a great time hanging out discussing life, hiphop and food. She is an intelligent and caring being who just happens to be a dope rapper. In a time of much conformity and in a place where status quo dominates, Nova is woman who is unafraid to speak her mind and use her talents in the service of positive change, in Indonesia and the world. Meet Nova Ruth…

TKC: Tell us how you began rapping and performing?

Nova: In the year of 2000, November, i began to seriously write lyrics and chose hiphop music. I’ve been learning how to sing since i was 5, since I was living Christian culture with my priest grandpa. He’s really punctual in notes. I was born Christian and converted to Islam when I was in elementary school. I forget precisely when, but around 8 or 9 years old.

TKC: Being from Malang, how did you choose Hiphop music? What drew you to it? Is there are big scene there?

Nova: Starting from an introduction with Malang Hiphop Community, my bestfriend Indri, half of TwinSista made me hang out with them and I get to know Lauryn Hill (music) better, he he. We did cover songs first, but then me and Indri decided to go to a competition in Jakarta in November 2000, that’s how TwinSista begin. We’re from a small city, but we have a will to grow bigger. Now, the scene are not as big as when I started hiphop music, but there are still a few people i know here doing hiphop music.

TKC: What is the content of the music that you create? What is your intention when you are creating? To whom are you speaking to?

Nova:  I am open to any kind of music genre that is why hiphop is good for me. Because it’s always possible to combine hiphop to any kind of genre. From the ethnic to the most modern one. I think hiphop is more friendly with genres. So it depends, sometimes a music producer will show me some good music, then i will know immediately what I will write over that and sometimes it’s the opposite. My intention is simply to tell people about how I feel and how I see the world. I speak to myself first then to public, because I believe every human has the same feeling about the truth, it’s just that some people choose to deny it. So if I know my words will hurt me, then it’ll hurt other people too. If I know my words is my tool to reflect to myself, then it’s relevant to speak it to people.

TKC: What is the focus of your activism? Who are you working with?

Nova: My activism is simple, it’s about honesty. I support any activism that honest. On a larger scale, I’m working with EngageMedia for speaking the truth through video about environmental and social justice issues across Asia-Pacific. Though I will stop working directly with them this December, i’ll be supporting their activism. I like technology as activism tool, it’s powerful. Music is also activism. Right now i’m working a lot with Grey Filastine because he’s also both musician and activist. I’ve been doing critiques to war and environment over his anti-capitalism music critique, that also feels honest to me. I’m also open to work on music with many artists, as long as I fit with their personality and attitude, it’ll be easy for me to work with. I’ve been having good time working with Sven Simulacrum, Unkle Ho and Pataphysic from Australia. They are all activists in their own way. On a smaller scale but a most important one, my activism of honesty also happens in the family. I’m living in an open-minded family that i consider as a luck. From very small thing such within family, that people often forget, being honest can reflect what you’ll do for the mother earth in general.

Nova explaining about video distribution

TKC: Is there a strong arts and activism scene in Indonesia? What about Indonesian Hiphop and activism?

Nova: I don’t see that much appearing on the surface, aside from Homicide (Bandung). It should be here, but it’s always underground. There are few people I know that knows about what are they talking about in their lyrics, but more than few of hiphop artists are entertainment only. But to me is not a wrong thing, everyone has role in their life. Entertain people are also important, people just have to make a choice of what role they would take. I never thought so hard about who is doing what. At least I know what I’m doing and from that, these 10 years, I slowly found who are they and doing what and start to make connection. I think that’s how it should work. Natural and organic activism and networking is more important than being always provocative and trying to gather people who has the same perspective with me in a pushy way.

TKC: Do you think there is a way for mainstream entertainment and underground or grassroots activism to merge?

Nova: I think creating good music is always important. Having a nice frequency and not get people annoyed by what you’ve shouted out. Getting yourself to a nice frequency is both entertaining and communicating and a poetic message plus good music IS entertaining. Why being all the time in the underground if your message not getting up on the surface? But then we again realize that it’s not us (underground people) that never try to get our message out there, it is the BIG industry that always getting in our way of making it happen. I guess all underground people understand why ‘they’ called us underground. I’ve played in grassroots festivals and I’ve played in BIG festivals too, I spread the same messages. Because I always do it with my heart, at the end i know, that my activism and music has been merged since the first time I started it. There is a way, just be more conceptual to the performance that you going to bring.

TKC: What goals are you working towards right now?

Nova: I just do what’s the best today. I don’t have specific goals at the moment, but I’m hoping to finish 3rd Filastine’s album next and starting to think of my own project. Nothing really set yet for me, but I keep on searching for some inspiration. Once my job with EngageMedia has done, I would think clearer for my music. That’s what i hope.

TKC: Tell us something about you that nobody knows.

Nova: If I tell you, then everyone will know, ha ha….but, really….I have nothing to hide. Why should I?

TKC: You don’t need to tell us a secret, just something that most people don’t know about you. Maybe you like to do 10 pushups before you leave the house everyday or you cry easily in movies or your a sucker for a guy who reads you poetry…..It’s up to you.

Nova: Ahahaha.. ok.. I’m whispering a prayer in Arabic words every time I get out of house or start a day wherever I stay, because it makes me remember little things i always forget to bring. here:

TKC: What are you listening to right now?

Nova: Erykah Badu, Gonja Sufi, Hermitude, Filastine, old dangdut, old indonesian Jazz, Lauryn Hill and many many folk songs from Music of the Intifada from Palestine, gamelan, old acapella American gospel songs. but exactly right now, is the old dangdut.

TKC: Name 3 of your favorite albums?

Nova: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Pantun Berjudi by A. Rafiq, Dirty Bomb by Filastine

TKC: What are you reading?

Nova: Whatever has letters….and sometimes pictures make it better. I like learning how to read non roman letters too, like Arabic and Javanese letters. The more beautiful the shape, the more interesting.

TKC: Recommend 3 books.

Nova: The Stranger by Albert Camus. The entire series of Asterix. Serat Centhini is a book that tells about a Javanese maid who can speak three languages. Her story was censored by the government and was considered taboo for Javanese history because it was really blunt and honest. So they threw it away and French people saved it. I don’t know if it’s already translated in English yet, but this must be inspiring for any story teller in the world.

TKC: Name 3 people whom inspire you?

Nova: Sutinah, my grandma (from my mom). She was a Bugis moslem but could understand the Javanese philosophy and spoke the high Javanese better than any Javanese i know. She was a radio announcer and a master of  ceremonies for Javanese weddings, a leader of her kind. Moestopo, my grandpa (from dad). He was a Javanese Christian priest. He built a church but then moslem extremist burned it down. He was the person with patience and his kindness was unbeatable. Lastly, the one and only Lauryn Hill. She’s important in music aspect. Let’s say, she successfully educated me with her extraordinary album of her miseducation.

TKC:What’s your favorite relaxation activity?

Nova: Satire jokes from my best friends over good cafe latte and sweet tiramizu… and going there (to the cafe) by bike in nice weather. I’ll have a really good sleep after that.

TKC: Anything else you would like to say?

Nova: Yes. So many thanks to whomever will read this. Keep on doing positive things and spread good vibes. I’ll see you on stage, that’s the place i can say many things. That’s why I love hiphop.

For more info on Nova Ruth:

Nova @ Ilmu Hiphop Festival

PitchBlackGold and Nova Ruth stylin'

(I’ll upload more videos when I’m on a faster connection)



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TKC: A Hiphop Cypher/Hiphop IS Harmony In Diversity Concert

Nova Ruth spittin' in The Cypher

Free from tourists, strictly Hiphop heads showed up to The Cypher at Yaari & Toya’s Art Gallery last Tuesday (Oct 5th) and it was one of the rawest Hiphop parties to bless Bali.  Magic always happens when you get a room full of artists who possess the spirit of freestyling. Aerial Crew (IND) held down the floor, Suffice (UK), Nova Ruth (IND), Omar Musa (AUS), Mighty Joe (USA), The Brothahood (AUS)
, Solomann (USA)  E-C (IND) and Tyo (IND) held down the mics and PitchBlackGold held down the music selections and a mic. Toya and the Center for the Arts staff held down the Indonesian dishes.

TR.I.P @ Hiphop Is Harmony In Diversity in Ubud's Pura Dalem Puri

Omar Musa & Mighty Joe

The Hiphop IS Harmony In Diversity concert (Oct 7th) during the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival 2010 was excellent and a great success. Ubud’s first Hiphop concert had all of the above mentioned artists, plus Lil Jasmine, a 12 year girl from Surabaya getting down fusing Javanese and hiphop dance and Black Masker setting off the show with fire….literally. It was lovely to have the new school of Hiphop cats performing under the screen playing the old school Hiphop movies Wildstyle and Style Wars. There was one point when a scene of Rock Steady Crew b-boying was happening simultaneously with Aerial Crew’s performance. DJ Malik Flowmaxx (USA) held down the sound selection on the underground tip. It was dope. Everyone did their thing well and with much energy. Props all around.

Dj Malik Flowmaxx

Black Masker set it off

Skipze (Aerial Crew

B-Girls in the house - Beautiful Game & Lil Jasmine

Hosted by PitchBlackGold

The Brotherhood rockin'

E-C spittin'

TR.I.P. is the house to rock the spot. PBG & Suffice.

B-girl Lil P (Aerial Crew) & mic ripper Nova Ruth

K1M & Ewox Taste (Aerial Crew)

Omar Musa(AUS), Mighty Joe(USA), E-C & K1M (BALI) PitchBlackGold(USA)

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Ubud Readers & Writers Festival and Tru Karya Cipta present:

Ubud Readers & Writers Festival and Tru Karya Cipta present:

True Creative Activity
A Hiphop Cypher

An authentic Hiphop experience featuring collaboration rap performances and freestyle (improvisational) session by Hiphop artists from Bali, Java, USA, Australia and UK. Also featuring a breakdance session by Bali Breakin’ featuring Aerial Crew. Guest lyricists include:

Omar Musa….PitchBlackGold….Izzy KMC….Tha Brothahood….Suffice….E-C….K1M….Nova Ruth….Mighty Joe….and more!

Music provided by DJ PitchBlackGold (USA) Hosted by Tru Karya Cipta & Yaari Toya Studio & Center For the Arts.

Tuesday Oct 5th
Time: 5pm – 10pm

Yaari Toya Studio & Center for the Arts

Jl. Mertanadi no. 11
Kerobokan, Bali 80361


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Updates Coming Shortly…Ubud Writers Fest/Hiphop Is Unity In Diversity/Etc.

………………………….We are just deep in the process of creation.

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Reflection Eternal – Ballad of The Black Gold (Video)

Talib Kweli & Hi-Tek show impeccable timing with the release of this song on their latest album Revolutions Per Minute. The video itself is a fan made video that the label liked so much, they decided to make it an official release. A perfect song showcasing how music and video can be used to bring more awareness to current issues. How many youth out there may gain there first knowledge of the oil situations on this planet through Reflection Eternal and this song & video? Much respect to Kweli and Hi-Tek.

Download: Reflection Eternal – Ballad of The Black Gold


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Tru Karya Cipta Joins With Leadership Excellence!!!

Back in 2002, I was blessed to work with Leadership Excellence for the first time, participating as a counselor at Camp Akili. My experience there was just as transformational for me and it was for the youth and the other counselors who attended. LE has been doing nothing but excellent work in transforming the lives of African-American youth in Oakland, California for the last 13 years. I’m grateful to announce that Leadership Excellence has provided fiscal sponsorship to Tru Karya Cipta, extending it’s vision on a global level. Our goal is connecting the youth of Oakland, with youth in Indonesia through the shared expression of the Hip-Hop arts and the dedication to youth empowerment. As Camp Akebulan (Details here) offers the opportunity for youth from Oakland cross the Atlantic Ocean to West Africa, Tru Karya Cipta will offer the opportunity to cross the Pacific and down to South East Asia for cultural exchanges.

Tru Karya Cipta and Leadership Excellence need and are thankful for your support. Through your donations, TKC and LE move forward and continue provide much needed services for our youth. Any donation you make, is a charitable donation and may be used for tax-deduction purposes, if you so choose. Just send an email to: and we will send you our federal tax exemption number.

Peace & much love to Brother Saleem Shakir and the entire LE staff. We move forward.


Camp Akili

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TKC To Participate In 2010 Ubud Writers Festival!!!

I am very pleased to announce Tru Karya Cipta’s participation in the 2010 Ubud Writers & Readers Festival in Bali this October. This year’s theme is Bhinneka Tunggal Ika: Harmony in Diversity. From the festival website;

Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, the Indonesian national motto, is a quotation from the ancient Javanese poem the Sutasoma. The concept promotes respect between all people, whatever the ethnic, regional, social or religious differences.

This is theme is directly aligned with what TKC represents, and will be an excellent event for our debut presentation. I’m hella excited about it. I have a such a dope performance concept floating in my creative pool, that I get juiced just thinking about it. I can’t wait to get to Bali to begin working with artists and festival organizers on it. Big shout out and thanks to Janet and Sarah!!!


For more info about the festival:

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Dead Prez Speaks On International Solidarity & Hip-Hop

Last Sunday, I got a chance to build with M1 and Stic before this discussion at organized by Orange Amber Productions & Hot Water Cornbread. It’s always great when you can build with artists who actually know what they are talking about. They have a focus and direction that is bigger than Hip-Hop, but fully incorporates it. Here they touch on some of the same principles of international solidarity in Hip-Hop that is a motivating factor for Tru Karya Cipta.

If you believe in the concepts in which Dead Prez spoke on, please make a donation to Tru Karya Cipta and help us establish a center in the SE Asian region that is dedicated to process of using Hip-Hop expression as a means of social development.


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Elizabeth Gilbert – A New Way To Think About Creativity


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Selamat Galungan Bali!!! The Triumph of Virtue Over Evil

Galungan is the major festival of the Balinese pawukon calendar, and celebrates the triumph of virtue (Dharma) over evil (Adharma). During the 10 day period, all the Balinese gods are thought to descend to earth for the festivities, which centre on the mysterious Barong dance.

There are various forms of the dance, but in the most holy (and dangerous) the Barong protects his supporters from the evil witch Rangda. She compels them to try to stab themselves with their krises, while he ensures that the krises have no effect and induces a mystical trance-like state.  During Galungan these Barong leap from temple to temple giving spontaneous performances while other Balinese musicians and dancers provide further entertainment. Galungan culminates with Kuningan, when beautifully made offerings are given at temples to bid farewell to celestial spirits and ancestors.

Bringing Offerings

What if America had a 10 day celebration of virtue over evil? Christmas was once a 12 day celebration and ended on January 6th, a day called “Feast of Epiphany”, though how much celebration of actual virtue was done, if any at all, is a mystery to me. In America 2010, people are to consumed with the celebrating the opposite, the triumph of evil over virtue. It’s pretty self evident, so no need to delve into it. What i will do is list 3 virtues that we can all strengthen and cultivate….

1. Respect For Life – This basic and primary virtue is the foundation one must live and act from, if one is to cultivate a healthy relationship with oneself,  family & friends, with other people, ethnicities, cultures and with animals, nature, etc.

2. Allowance – This is a virtue most often overlooked, yet is so essential to harmony amongst individuals and groups. To possess allowance is to allow others to be who they are and exercise their free-will choice (as long as their choices do not violate the free-will of others) without attempting to force your own way of thought, action and being on them.

3. Giving – A virtue we should be consistently mindful in cultivating. It’s unfortunate that we live in a society that markets & promotes taking as if it were a virtue, and throws insults toward people who actually give (unless there’s a crisis, when giving becomes cool). Sadly, because of this, even givers have forgotten how to give. When one gives, one must give from the heart. Giving from the heart energizes life, which in reciprocation, energizes more life. Giving can come in many forms. From monetary to an honest and open ear, to a shoulder to lean on. Make an effort to give something to life daily.

Selamat Galungan (I’ll post another for Kuningan)


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