Rap the regions

Rapper Badshah and Jubin Nautiyal

After making a mark in Bollywood, Punjabi rappers are now tapping the regional music industry as well. Sangeeta Yadav talks to some about how this will help the youth recognise rich folk genres and bring regional artistes into the limelight

One can call it a trend but one is told that it is more about making an attempt to give a boost the regional music that rappers these days are moving away from Bollywood and Punjabi music to collaborate with the regional artists to create something new. A move in this direction came when Bollywood singer Jubin Nautiyal along with rapper Badshah sung a popular pahadi song titled O Saathi O Saathi that went viral overnight.

“I’m in love with pahadi songs. Jubin came up with a melodious Gadhwali song and after listening to it, I realised that this is a great opportunity for me to do something different. This soulful Jaunsari (language) track talks about a lover who is sad because his beloved has left him. My part is a melodious rap in Hindi where I’m expressing a lot of angst. It goes like this: Ek pal lage din bin, lagda mahina. Tere bina choda khana peena, choda maine jeena. Jeena hai kya tere bina, tu jo nahi naa. Aaja mil le isse pehle saasein ruk jaye kahina,” Badshah says,  who recently performed at Bollywood Music Project in the Capital.

Originally sung by Jaunsari singer Khajan Dutt Sharma, the music was recreated at MTV Coke Studio platform. Having rapped party numbers like Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai, Kar Gai Chull, Kala Chashma, The Breakup Song, Humma Humma and Tamma Tamma, Badshah now wants to get other regional genre of music identifies and recognised by his mass fan following.

“This experiment was amazing. I’m at a juncture wherein if I put a song out, people want to listen to it. So it’s my duty to be a medium through which regional music can be heard by all. Jaunsari folk songs are very big in Uttarakhand but that’s limited to the people of that region. So I picked it up and came up with this track which people are listening to in India now. I don’t know if it is going to boost the regional music scene but I am sure it is going to help these genres to get and identity,” Badshah tells you.

Rapper Raftaar

Raftaar too has gone regional. “I’ve sung a title track with Vishal Dadlani for the Bengali movie titled One. This is the first time I have sung a regional song. But then even Bengalis are accepting some English and Hindi words in their songs which was not the case earlier,” Raftaar says.

Badshah has plans of collaborating with the regional singers and folk artistes across the country. “The regional music scene is doing good but it has to be heard by everyone. Gujarati music is as its best. But a lot of people in Punjab don’t listen to it. Bengali songs are amazing but a lot of people don’t understand that language and the beauty of its melody. Through my music, I want to capture the vibe of Gujarati music. Bengali songs have got melody and I am going to make a peppy Bengali song soon. Bhojpuri songs are trippy and a lot can be done with them as well. I’m going to collaborate with Anirudh Ravichander, the composer of Why this Kolaveri D, for a south Indian song,” Badshah says who is also coming up with his own album titled Original Never Ends which is said to be different from your usual Bollywood numbers.

The trend of singing rap kick-started with Punjabi songs and gradually got accepted in films as well. “We started the rap in Punjabi songs because Bollywood was not accepting them back then as it sounded quite international like Rhythm & Blues (RnB), Hip hop, etc. Bollywood was not interested in rappers. But slowly when everyone saw that Yo Yo Honey Singh, Badshah, Raftaar and I have become popular, Bollywood started taking our songs like Kala Chashma, etc. There was a sudden spurt in the industry. We are now trying to collaborate with the international and regional artistes,” Indeep Bakshi tells you who has sung songs like Saturday Saturday, Disco Deewane from the movie Student Of The Year.

Rapper Indeep Bakshi

Now that the rappers have become a huge hit in Bollywood, the regional entertainment industry is also opening doors for rappers. “It was Yo Yo Honey Singh who opened the doors for individual artists and independent music scene in India. The acceptance is much more now and even south Indian movies are copying us. They are putting rap in folk songs too,” Bakshi says, who is going to release the title track Bounce of his album Karma that talks about staying happy.

And there is a reason why songs like O Saathi O Saathi are working. It is due to the collaboration between folk artistes and  rappers. “If we’ve folk singers singing their regional music and others rappers like us rapping in Hindi or English, we might be able to do justice to that song and genre. But in the name of remixes, if we completely redo the song by giving an urban beat to a folk song, there is every possibility that we may lose the essence of the song. The balance in the fusion of folk and urban music has to be there so that we don’t end up spoiling the local flavour. The  aim is to let people know what folk music is and popularise it,” Bakshi tells you.

An attempt was made by Yo Yo Honey Singh back in 2013 who sang a rap in Gujarati titled Achko machko . Though the song was played everywhere in Gujarat it didn’t connect with the masses as compared to the connection that Punjabi rap songs did. Hence, rappers like Badshah had stuck to Punjabi songs. But all that has changed now.

Though collaborations are happening to re-do an old song completely, the problem is that they are losing creativity. The need of the hour is to create an original regional song instead of taking a old one and remixing it.

“The remixing of old Bollywood numbers and rapping it is not creativity. People are getting bored. They want something new.  When I am asked to do a remake of an old song, I tell them that I am not a DJ. I have commercial raps which I can give but not going to redo a song completely. Personally, I don’t like rapping folk songs. It requires a different treatment altogether to do justice to it. It is good to experiment but we should not corrupt the beauty of the folk music by  mixing it with rap music,” Bakshi says.


(The article also got published in Pioneer Newspaper – http://www.dailypioneer.com/sunday-edition/sunday-pioneer/backpack/rap-the-regions.html).


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