The Multifaceted, Dynamic Identities Of Indian Hip-Hip Collective J Block

The Multifaceted, Dynamic Identities Of Indian Hip-Hip Collective J Block
Indian Express

Since its inception in 2021, J Block has experienced many shifting identities. Though it grew from the hip hop scene inclinations of its founders—Siddharth and Aatmbodh, who go by the stage names Lonekat and Adam Bo, the block has evolved into an entity that has for a long time evaded being pinned down to any single definition. In a recent interview, the term ‘creative ecosystem’ seemed to capture the essence of what the block does: offering a safe space for all kinds of artists to come together and explore their creativity on their terms.

In a freewheeling conversation with Waris, one of the members, I try to get a deeper, but by no means, exhaustive look into J Block.

Emerging in an ordinary 3 BHK in Sarita Vihar’s J Block, the collective has now shifted venues slowly expanding to a 4 BHK to Chattarpur to meet the growing footfall seeking the refuge it provides to artists to explore their craft. “There are never just the three regular residents of the house here; at any given point in time, there are always people moving in and out of the house,” says Waris.

J Block provides a recording studio that is open to everyone, a revolutionary act in an age where creativity continues to be commercialized, where the lure of big money often swallows up small, independent art. By allowing people to come in and hang around, to use the recording studio as per their wishes, J Block fosters an atmosphere of collaboration, a no-stress zone for artists to work on personal projects, at the same time, inspiring others and being inspired in turn.

In fact, Siddhant, who recently performed at the Queermade Weekend alongside acts like the F16s, initially used to only come to the block to accompany a friend. On his third visit, he brought over a song he had written, and that is how his first song, ‘Bandeya’ was born. Much of the newer talent in J Block didn’t have a background in music originally, but the creative atmosphere of the space has germinated dormant singing and songwriting talent, with new music being released by artists like Kofi Kofi and dr chaand.
Artists come over, show each other their work, and try to find innovative soundscapes together. Many of them balance multiple day jobs and freelance work, coming together in the evenings or on the weekends to hang out and bond over music and everything else.

It is this kind of back and forth and casual riffing that led J Block to release its first mixtape: Kho Kho, created just over 2 days when everybody found the time away from work to sit together and collaborate. The process of working on the mixtape could be likened to a game of kho kho, with people switching seats to record the songs.

All in all, while there is no limit to the genre, style or even form, J Block tries to promote and produce conscious music. More than anything, it tries to foster meaningful conversation. There is no commercial pressure to produce a certain number of songs or to adhere to a particular political narrative, allowing artists the freedom to explore issues that are close to them.

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