Groove to Brodha V's hip-hop beats this Sunday
There are quite a few things about rapper Vighnesh Shivanand, known by his stage name Brodha V, that inspire us. To begin with, he is a pioneer in the Indian rap scene, who quit his engineering to follow his passion in hip-hop and rap in his late teens. Secondly, his music – be it Way Too Easy or Let Em Talk – is aimed at youngsters who need to believe in themselves and cut off from the unnecessary societal norms. “People around you are constantly trying to tell you that you can’t do something. With my music, I want to inspire my listeners to prove them wrong and make them wonder how you succeed every time,” says the 28-year-old rapper. Released in February this year, his recent single, Way Too Easy, got him the Best Hip-hop Artiste of the Year award at Radio City Freedom Awards 2018. “Way Too Easy is a song that talks about always being in control of your life, never paying attention to naysayers and always doing the impossible, while making it look ‘way too easy’,” he adds.
Although there are a few other successful rappers in the country like Blaaze, Badshah and Naved Shaikh, what makes Brodha V unique is his fusion of hip-hop with folk and devotional songs. Belonging to a traditional Indian family in Bengaluru, Brodha V grew up listening to Carnatic songs and slokas, which influenced a lot of his music composition. “When I started making original music, I added Carnatic melodies with some serious lyrics and the response was great. People in India could relate to the tunes. Whereas, people abroad found it intriguing. Either way, it works for me,” he shares. Apart from that the hip-hop artiste also counts AR Rahman, Timbaland, Eminem, and Jay Z as some of his influences. “These guys are my idols and someday I would like to work with them,” he says. The Bengaluru-based rapper will perform in the city for the first time this weekend. Expect his singles including Aigiri Nandini and Way Too Easy.
Excerpts from our interview with the rapper:
Tell us about your journey so far. What were the initial challenges you faced, when you chose to make this field your profession?
I've been rapping for about a decade now. When I'd initially started rapping, there were a handful of guys rapping in the entire country. Rap was very new to many people, especially to promoters and event organisers. None of them wanted to see a rapper perform at college fests or clubs. They frankly had no idea what a rap concert or a gig would be like. They'd rather get Rock/Metal Bands or DJs at such events. So, it was really hard to get to perform anywhere. I literally had to beg people to let me do a freestyle rap for even 2 minutes on the mic at an afternoon party. And even if I did get a slot to perform for even 5 minutes, they'd ask me to still pay for the entry despite being a performer at that very event. Now, another problem was that I did not have original songs when I'd started off. Producers were very expensive and I couldn't afford studio time as well. So I'd mostly download beats of popular Rap songs and perform my own raps over them. But the problem with that was, people were so familiar with the beats of the original songs, they'd not care about what you're rapping. So, that's when I decided to learn to Compose and Produce my own music so that my sound and story could be unique only to me.
Do you think rap in India has evolved over the last few years?
It has evolved and has grown by leaps and bounds. There was no Hip Hop scene 10 years ago. Now, Hip Hop is the scene in India. There's Rap in almost every movie song and advertisement today.
There are rappers headlining Music Festivals and College Fests, getting signed to big record labels, endorsing popular brands. I think the Rap scene in India now, is like what Rap in America was during the early 90s. A lot of artists with a lot of unique styles with a lot of stories, hungry for success, wanting to be heard. The scene is only going to grow from here on.
What does your name, Brodha V, signify?
I was heavily inspired by Old School Hip Hop. The culture then was about bringing Black People together and through music they found a voice, to speak about police brutality, racism, gang violence, drug problems, etc. It was a powerful movement and it was all about Brotherhood. I wanted to do the same with my music as well. I want to bring people of all religions, castes, nationalities and ethnicities together through my music and lyrics. Music has the power to change mindsets, give a voice to the voiceless and even start revolutions. Brotherhood and unity is the need of the hour. So, the Brodha comes from Brotherhood, and the 'V' stands for Vighnesh, which is my real name.
You have also incorporated quite a few everyday elements from the streets of India in the video. Was it a conscious effort?
Way Too Easy is a very grounded song. I wanted to show people where I come from, my struggles and how it took me so long to get where I am. So, the director of the video and I wanted to show all those elements in the video and I think it has been translated very well.
What is your songwriting process like? Where do you draw your everyday inspiration, especially in terms of themes for songs, from?
I get inspired by many things. I could be frustrated and I'd looking for an outlet to vent. Sometimes, I hear people talk about issues and just listen to all their perspectives. There are also times, when fans write to me on Facebook, Instagram or mail me about their problems and tell me stories about their lives. There is a story in everything. And the need to elaborate each story and make it interesting is what inspires to make music. I usually, start by composing the melodies and making the beats. Then I come up with a good Chorus/Hook. And then I play it on loop for about 2 days straight and if I still like it, I'll go ahead and start writing the raps for it. If I cannot listen to it for 2 days straight, then I believe the song wouldn't work and I'll either trash it or keep it aside for some other day.
You've worked with popular musicians including Raghu Dixit, Vishal Dadlani and Benny Dayal. What have been your biggest learnings through this journey?
I learned a lot by watching them work. They're senior to me and have been doing great things. Watching their workflow taught me a lot about what to do and what not do. Also, I learned a lot about the business of music.
Do you think the internet is the next mainstream medium for musicians?
It already is. Everybody's finding new, unique and interesting content on the Internet every day. TV shows, now tend to copy ideas from content on the internet to cater to their audience. TV is going to be obsolete soon.
What can we expect in your upcoming gig in Hyderabad?
This is my first show in Hyderabad and I can guarantee that the people of Hyderabad have never seen a concert like this before. It's going to be a blast and will blow your minds away.
What are your future projects?
I'm working on a couple of singles. I also have a track with Raftaar which is going to be a banger, that's going to create waves. Apart from that, I'm going on an all India tour, playing shows at multiple cities and give them all a good dose of some Brodha V style Hip Hop Music.
Songs on your playlist right now?
J Cole's latest album 'KOD'.
Ticket: Rs.350. At The Moonshine Project.
On April 29, 9 pm onwards.