The last few years have been an incredibly exciting time for the desi hip-hop scene with many underground artists getting their due and more and more people tuning in to listen to hip-hop and rap. Homegrown loves bringing to you emerging artists and those who have established a niche in alternate genres hidden from the mainstream. This week, we bring to you emerging South-Asian hip-hop artists and rappers that are making a mark in the Indian scene. They are on our radar and probably should be on your playlist too.
I. Lil Kabeer
Kanpur-based rapper Lil Kabeer started his musical journey when he first moved out to Lucknow, realising studying wasn’t something that excited him and with his ever-evolving love for the music-making process, he decided to take the plunge. Taking inspiration from American rap music and the Hindi music he heard in his city autos, the young hip-hop artist, now in Delhi has been making music with friends (JBlock). Terming his music tastes as diverse, he says, “Ek jaisa zyada nahi ban pata humse” (I can’t keep making the same things again and again). He says that music is the backdrop to his life and hence, like new updates to the storyline brought on by life experiences, his music keeps shape-shifting whether it is his angsty phase or a fun phase or an experimentative phase. His upcoming work is a 5 track EP with his friend Faizan Rahman, called ‘Darpan Store’ which talks about his experiences in Delhi. He says it is a fun EP and even features two romantic songs.
“As long as I can remember, I always wanted to be an artist, but found my medium very late in life,” says Adi Radia who goes by the stage name naqaab47. A truly great artist in the making, the New-Delhi based hip-hop artist has been especially interested in the lyrical aspects of songs from the beginning. This started as an obsession with Sufi music, which he used to spend all his time deciphering with his friend Arjun Raina, who was more fluent and well-versed in Urdu poetry. He also started attending gigs while studying in LA and became involved and engaged with the contemporary music scene there. Surrounded by musician friends and his now long-time collaborator Sidharth Gupta (one-half of producer duo Shoals), he began to fully comprehend hip-hop as a lyrical and musical medium. While he started to rap as a casual pastime, a heartbreak lead him to fully immerse himself into the craft. “I finally understood the power of hip hop and found my medium. After that, I’ve had tunnel vision and spent all my time learning how to rap, practising and improving my skills,” he tells us. As far as his music goes he says it is a “...conversation between my 3 alter egos – azaad vijay, haraami swami and pahgull d33waana — which all represent different sides of me.” Revelling in finding the common ground between seemingly paradoxical ideas. He says, “My lyrics are as frivolous as they are meaningful and as timeless as they are current. I would describe it as a heady concoction of intricate rhyme schemes, philosophical reflections and quirky wordplay.”
23-year-old music producer Natiq finds inspiration in exploring the early 80s music of India and Pakistan. Based out of Delhi, the young producer says that his debut project Kashmakash is quite close to his heart because “I ended up trying a lot of new things I hadn’t done before during the process of creating it and it feels very organic when I look back at it. The melodies, the samples, everything that I have done alongside some of the most talented musicians I have worked with on that project is a journey of discovering a new style within my production and in myself as well.” Sonically his music lies in an amalgamation of two different eras, the modern musical era and the classic era, drawing from a mixture of distinct cultures, realities and perspectives. He has collaborated with the likes of J Block, Toorjo and Teesri Duniya among others and has a couple of releases lined up with J Block and Toorjo later this year.
23-year-old rapper, Spaz, is known for his trilingual prowess with his ability to flow well in Hindi, English, and Punjabi. “I do it in a mix of three languages so that I can touch as many souls as I can and the listeners get to learn and know something new about a culture or a lifestyle which is foreign to them (in the form of something as small as slang or a lyric, to something as big as an experience that I share). You could say it’s at a point or an intersection at which the types of lifestyles existing in the city intersect. A common ground. It’s versatile in good taste,” he says. With an impressive discography already working alongside names like Frappe Ash, Vylom No Nation Muzzle, and others, the promise of this artist is undeniable. His tunes, Anthony Davis, Flipswitch, and Silvercyper, have been a testament to his growth on streaming platforms and showcase his unique rap prowess. Ain’t Coming Down, is the latest offering by the New Delhi-based rapper who debuted with the album entitled ‘Jet Pe’ which was the coming together of varied soundscapes and was inspired by his story, his journey and all the hardships that he has faced.
Check out Spaz here.
“More often than not, boredom inspires me to get off my ass and do something good,” says producer-singer and rapper Udbhav. Born in Noida, the name of his debut album ‘Nanku Sharma’ inspired by his childhood nickname ‘Nanku’, comes from the fact that he was born at his nanke (maternal grandparents’ house), which had a tone of existentialism to it. “It is also the work I’m most proud of,” he adds. Describing his music, he says “It’s fun, it’s the music that I’d want to listen to.” Emerging as a prolific, genre-shifting and shapeshifting artist in the past 2 years that he has been producing music more regularly, the 23-year-old New Delhi artist has had three albums and two EPs to his name along with a slew of singles. Making 1/3 of Teesri Duniya, he is an artist that is only just creating his mark, and we can’t wait to see what he does next. For what’s next from him, he says rather candidly, “Surprise hai.” (It’s a surprise).
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