Come to the party
Rapper Badshah talks about how rap in India is evolving, how important it is to keep fans close through social media, and he reveals bringing along a special guest to perform with him at the Sakal Times Summersault Festival
Badshah sure is making waves in the Indian hip-hop scene right now. From delivering hit tracks one after another in Bollywood, to releasing his first solo album, the rapper is keeping his fans excited about his work. In fact, he feels it’s an exciting time for hip-hop in India right now.
“Punjabi music, and the language too, has taken a great forefront in Bollywood. It has been an important part of the industry since ‘forever’, but there has been a brand new acceptability since the last few years. Most of the biggest chart toppers have been Punjabi, and I am very proud of this development. It’s just fantastic to see so many artists from Punjab like Diljit Dosanjh and Guru Randhawa making it big,” says Badshah, who is all set to perform at the Sakal Times Summersault Festival in the city this weekend.
He reveals that he’s also bringing along a special guest to join him on the stage. “We are extremely excited to perform in Pune again. The audience in this city has the best energy during concerts. Aastha Gill is performing with me. Our recently released track Buzz has been getting phenomenal response. We performed a tease of the song the last time we were in Pune, and this will be the first time we will be performing the song at a live concert in India. So I am really looking forward to the experience!” he says.
Making rap radical
But rap is not just a ‘big thing’ in India right now. Earlier this month, the Pulitzer in Music was awarded to a hip-hop artist for the first time. Though Badshah recognises that the movement is worldwide, he feels that in India, the music is still more important than the lyrics. “See, you need to understand that Hindi music will take a while to cater to a global audience because the lyrics are vernacular, and only English can be considered a global language. Even when a Hindi track makes it big globally, which I am confident will happen very soon, it will mostly be riding the charts because of phenomenal music production rather than the lyrics. About conscious song writing, I think we have well-written songs that resonate with anyone who understands Hindi,” he shares.
Within the local rap community you can feel the winds of change. Rappers are moving, slowly but surely, away from flamboyant hedonistic rap and giving their listeners something more fresh. They’re making an effort to go beyond the themes of cars, girls, and alcohol, even though that is what the audience wants to listen to sometimes. “For Bollywood, the process of song writing generally follows a clear brief that comes from the filmmakers. So a certain lyricist sometimes ends up getting stereotyped in the kind of songs the industry expects from him.
However, thankfully, my label completely supports the alternative original content I write and want to put out. Examples are Baatcheet and Bandook. My next big single to be out on Sony Music India is a complete digression from the usual party anthem vibe. It’s a soulful ballad with a completely new storyline. I am hoping the audience loves it,” he shares.
Keeping up with fans
With everything being recorded and uploaded on social media, the old world charm of going to a concert and watching your favourite artist perform live, in flesh and blood, is fading. But social media can also be considered a boon for artists to connect with the fans and feel the pulse of the audience.
“Social media mostly acts as a boon for us in engaging with our audience. When it comes to stage performances, as long as we can keep the audience on their feet and engaged, it is fine,” says Badshah, who plans to go on a series of ‘never-done-this-way-before’ concerts all over India. “I make it a point to keep in constant touch with my fans and make them a part of my life behind-the-scenes. The point about technology is that you get instant feedback from your audience. It’s a mix of genuine and abusive commenting, but it’s upon us artists to filter and take what is important from it,” he adds.
ST Reader Service
Sakal Times Summersault music festival will be held at Shiv Chhatrapati Krida Sankul, Mahalunge, Balewadi, on April 28 and 29, 6.30 pm onwards. Tickets are available at Yashwantrao Chavan Natyagruha, Kothrud, Balgandharva Rangmandir, JM Road, Tilak Smarak Mandir, Tilak Road, Ram Krishna More Prekshagruha, Chinchwad, from 9-11.30 am and 5-8 pm, and Girikand Travels, Bhandarkar Road, Deccan Gymkhana, from 10 am-6 pm, and Sakal office, Budhwar Peth, from 11 am-6 pm. Tickets are also available on bookmyshow.com