'I've named my sound commercial conscious' : Shah Rule breaks down his debut EP, Hooked
“I’ve finally put a name to my sound and it’s ‘commercial conscious,’” says Mumbai rapper Shah Rule, at the heels of releasing his debut EP, Hooked. “I’ve always experienced a struggle to balance smart, conscious lyrics with the commercial factor. I think Kanye’s first 5 albums maintained that perfect balance and they are my favourite references for what I strive for while making a project,” adds the artiste.
Hooked disavows the hyper bombastic beat making for a timely and gruelling exploration of our vulnerable digital behaviour. “The concept revolves around social media and the internet age as an industry that literally rumbled during COVID,” Shah Rule shares about his six-track EP that also features collaborations by DIVINE and Shillong-based hip-hop artiste Meba Ofilia. He also broke down some other aspects of his extended play:
Tell us a little about the idea behind Hooked, since you talk about the duality of social media
Over the last few years I found myself creeping social media references into lyrics because that’s mostly what we consume. I had worked on songs like Khara Sona and Clap Clap literally weeks before we went into the first lockdown last March and they explored the themes of materialism and seeking attention.
Once we were in lockdown, our phone usage just exploded and it got me brainstorming, and really inspired me to shape the rest of the project and tracks like Hooked and Don’t Forgive Me came during the first few months of lockdown.
What are the kind of beats you explored in the EP?
Drums-wise it uses mostly modern trap high hats, snared and heavy distorted 808s, which is metaphorically in sync with the theme of the digital world. Melodically I wanted all the tracks to be diverse, and specific pertaining to each theme that falls under the umbrella of digital duality. For example, for the first two tracks Hooked and Khara Sona, which are openers and closest to the theme of our digital addiction, and it being the gateway to materialism, I specifically chose two beats with bells, to represent the constant notifications that ring throughout the day.
Don’t Forgive Me is about disloyalty and friends who turned to foes which required me and DIVINE to talk from life experiences, and sonically an acoustic guitar is almost always a go to instrument for storytelling.
Tell us a little about your collaborations with DIVINE and Meba Ofilia?
Working with DIVINE is always a blessing. Besides being friends for 5-6 years, I’ve always been a fan of his artistry and penmanship. In the past we have come up with hooks within 10-15 mins but this time was different as we were in lockdown, and I sent him this idea. The beat and hook for Don’t Forgive Me, sat in the same zone of our first collaboration, Wallah, which is why I thought of him when I made the demo.
He delivered an insane verse, which really hit home for all his fans. Meba Ofilia and I had met briefly once for a show but got to speaking during lockdown, and had mutual respect for each other’s music. I really wanted a strong female voice to start the EP, and she has a truly powerful voice which gracefully did the job. She instantly connected with the theme lyrically and melodically.
What's on your playlist right now?
Woah by Lil Baby, Car 85 by Nas, Wants and Needs by Drake, Sorry Not Sorry by DJ Khaled, Nas and Jay Z