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Manusia: A Reflection on the Human Experience

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCSD chapter.

On March 3, 2022, Indonesian powerhouse Tulus released his fourth studio album, Manusia, six years after his last release, Monokrom. It would be an understatement to say that the singer-songwriter’s new album was much anticipated, and an even bigger understatement to say that the music was well-received. One of the songs in the ten-track album, “Hati-Hati di Jalan,” placed #42 on Spotify’s global chart on March 8, less than a week after being released, making it the first Indonesian song in history to enter the top 50 on the global chart. With poetic lyrics written in Indonesian, arrangements from the Budapest Scoring Symphony, and compositions by the globally acclaimed composer Erwin Gutawa, Manusia is a truly marvelous album that deserves to be enjoyed by anyone and everyone.

The album title, Manusia, can be directly translated to “human,” which flawlessly encapsulates the essence of the tracks. In an interview with Suara.com, Tulus said that he was mostly inspired by the countless human interactions he has witnessed, his own experiences with other people included. The ten tracks in Manusia also symbolize his ten years of experience in the music industry, throughout which he has undergone tremendous personal and professional growth. He aims to record the spectrum of emotions humans experience and hopes that his music can let listeners feel beautiful things, from one human being to another.

Out of the ten tracks in Manusia, the heartbreak song “Hati-Hati di Jalan,” which means “be careful on your way,” is definitely the most popular. However, unlike most heartbreak songs, “Hati-Hati di Jalan” doesn’t encourage revenge or blaming the failure of the relationship on your ex. Instead, Tulus sings about being sincere about letting your ex go and genuinely wishing them well without resentment. This message seems to resonate with many listeners, causing “Hati-Hati di Jalan” to skyrocket to popularity among the Indonesian community and diaspora.

That being said, “Hati-Hati di Jalan” isn’t the only track that stands out. In fact, all the tracks in Manusia have garnered remarkable attention and appreciation. Upon the album’s release, all ten tracks successfully entered the Billboard Global 200 music chart. Other standout songs include “Tujuh Belas” (“Seventeen”), the title track, which nostalgically reminisces youth and captures growing pains; “Diri” (“Self”), a comforting song which promotes self-love and healing; and “Ingkar” (“Renege”), a moving lyrical track on responding to separation and growing out of past connections.

My personal favorite, however, would have to be “Kelana” (“Wanderer”), a song on existential crises and navigating dreams and aspirations – and just life in general. The lyrics spoke to me so much that I immediately cried after listening to the song for the first time. The album was released about a week before my final exams, a period during which I experienced mental and emotional turmoil because I was (and still am) unsure of what I want to do with my life. Manusia made me feel heard and comforted. Although I relate to certain tracks more than the others, Tulus made me realize just how much I have experienced and how much I have yet to experience in my life. All in all, Manusia helped me grow from and reflect on my experiences, be grateful for my memories and the people in my life, and feel reassured and a little less alone on my journey as a manusia.

Alexa (she/her) is a freshman at UC San Diego majoring in Cognitive Science. She was born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia. She loves reading, writing, and playing Genshin Impact. Alexa hopes to become a novelist or video game writer in the future.