• Fri, Jul 20, 2018
Features

Hip Hop Does Not Fucking Disappoint

features Jul 09, 02:09pm

From hitchhikers to a moshpit to the best hip-hop duo in country, the Azadi Records Showcase had it all.
In the past 18 months, hip-hop - through various forms - reminded us that creating a community, and not just a following, is essential for a genre’s rise in popularity. Ask any veteran Blues or Jazz musician from the country, and they would emphasis on the word ‘community’ to credit Kolkata’s golden era of live music, too. So be it a documentary by Sachin Pillai or BBC’s recent effort to understand the phenomenon through Bobby Friction, Mumbai has remained as the epicenter of everything-hip-hop. 6th July’s gig, organised by Azadi Records, was no different in terms of “sending a message” when compared to previous engagements around hip-hop.
 
The Midas Touch
 
Perhaps a bit too premature to claim that, but it wouldn’t be too far-fetched either to suggest that Azadi Records has not taken a step in the wrong direction so far. From enabling producer Sez as the label’s backbone (in the co-founder Mo Joshi’s words) to one of its latest signings Tienas, the label’s scouting and collaborations have only benefited the players associated in a way or another. The 6th July affair, as mentioned before, was no different. An hour before the gates officially opened, the hotel (where the venue Above The Habitat is located) witnessed a queue that none of its previous events had to offer, including the recent Zygnema show. A community had arrived. (A few hours before the gig, most of these faces were attending the official screening of a Vice documentary about the evolution of “gully rap”, conceptualized by Naman Sariya). Mo Joshi and Uday Kapoor, just under two years, have become the most important representatives for independent unadulterated uncensored rap and hip-hop stories. No PR bullshit, no collaboration with celebrities or unnecessary hype; rappers’ stories became the face of the label. New Delhi based Prabh Deep is a fine example of that.
 
An Inclusive Showcase
 
Azadi Records announced the gig as a showcase; an outreach to not only introduce the artists on the roster, but provide an idea of what’s in store for the upcoming years. Let me put it this way, all the rappers and producers present during the gig had only one thing on their minds: how to end up on that roster. Siri, still an unfamiliar name in Mumbai’s live music circuit, turned out to be one of the finest discoveries for 200+ attendees at the showcase. With such ease in her flow, be it in Kannada or English, it was quite evident that Siri surely earned the admiration of old school rappers present in the audience. She has been performing for almost five years, and it would not be inaccurate to say that the Azadi show will have a positive effect on her live engagements henceforth. A lot of interest around hip-hop arrives from fans under the age of 21, and thanks to the rigid laws of pubs in Mumbai, most venues turn out to be inaccessible for them. With an entry fee cheaper than a pack of cigarettes, these young admirers of local rap scene made their presence felt during Rak, another producer who’s reaping the benefits of a ‘community’. Since signing to Azadi Record, Tienas has released a mixtape and performed a couple of shows here and there, however, the showcase gig was the biggest audience he had ever performed to. When Tienas is on the stage, it’s quite hard to imagine he’s the same anxious and nervous individual who was nervous a few minutes. The transition is inspiring and at lightning speed. The same can be said about his verses. With representation from North East, the South and North, the line-up was carefully curated. The golden boy of the label was, yet again, to be unveiled towards the end. (BTW, what the fuck was the opening set?)
 
Seedhe Fucking Maut
 
Quite possibly, the best set of the night. For a Delhi-based duo, arriving with such confidence and personality and raising the “enthusiasm” bar after a showcase of six acts, in itself, is a huge victory. From the first verse, Seedhe Maut was not fucking around. The duo and Mumbai’s collective Swadesi, who performed later, tore apart the stage like it was some sort of competition, albeit a healthy one. No one shied away from how big a deal it felt to be a part of this movement. With a dozen of ‘thank yous’, these musicians expressed their heartfelt gratitude to the ‘community’ that never seems to disappoint. Seedhe Maut, unlike Prabh Deep, has created a loyal fanbase in Mumbai. Of course, Prabh Deep is still quite young in his endeavour, but perhaps Seedhe Maut should have ended the showcase night, purely based on the energy and the reaction that amassed during its set. Having said that, I personally believe that Seedhe Maut is the best hip-hop outfit in the country.
 

video courtesy: Azadi Records Facebook
 
Azadi from promotion woes?
 
The gig also provided certain stories that need to be mentioned. Be it two hip-hop purists who hitchhiked from Pune to Mumbai (‘coz no money) to attend the showcase or a fucking moshpit during ‘Class-Sikh Maut’ that resulted into a nose-bleed, the night suggested the future is, indeed, looking quite optimistic. Especially when it comes to live music, it seems that promoters may not have to be majorly depended on venues’ diktat for a brilliant outcome. Bira and Above The Habitat acted as ideal associates for the occasion, however, the entire approach towards live music can be re-designed partly based on the response on 6th July. Of course, getting signed to Azadi Records may make the journey easier for emerging promising talents, but I guess, that’s the whole point of Azadi’s effort in a nutshell: to be truly independent. 
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