Smokey the Ghost on his new mixtape, Her Name Is?
In conversation with the Bengaluru-based rapper
Bengaluru-based rapper Sumukh Mysore better known to fans as Smokey the Ghost has been a strong voice for the independent hip-hop culture of the country for a few years. Having worked on movies such as Chennai Express and Detective Byomkesh Bakshy, Smokey now addresses a lot of social issues though his work. The rapper drops a new four-track mixtape, Her Name Is ?, and we chat with him about the concepts, inspirations and collaborations.
Tell us about the concept behind the mixtape
Her Name Is ? is a story about this girl I met who is dying but no one is paying attention to her. And it's a true story.
The four tracks on the album are inspired by four different women that I’ve dated and their the collective identity as the woman. Her Name Is ? is a riddle and there is section in the album that reveals her identity. I hope the listeners get it and understand her.
What's the story behind the name?
Like I said, It's a riddle. I want people to listen to the tape to find out who she is. One of the most significant moments that inspired me to write this tape was when I was travelling back from Kerala to Karnataka with a friend of mine (a girl). Some unruly boys in a van overtook us on the road and kept making obscene gestures at us. This really disturbed me, not only because I couldn't do anything but because I realised that I could never understand how she felt like in that situation, because I am male. That's what she and many other women face everyday and it just makes me very sad and depressed. I went back and listened to a lot of lofi music to cope with it (a habit I have developed), and that’s when I came up with this tape.
What are some themes or issues you address through the songs?
Love in today's world is not exactly a linear path. The mixtape attempts to address how society has abused the woman's identity for centuries. Gender roles are a social construct. Men can be delicate and fragile and a women can be macho and strong.
However, we all have social constructs around us. These social constructs are maintained by politicians and propaganda, despite this fact, I feel that many citizens of India, still ignore the hard facts presented before them. The album discusses the above in a collective context. I hope men find more respect for women and not just reduce issues to memes on Facebook.
Are there any collaborations?
Every song is a collaboration. Musician Different has been a frequent collaborator with me, along with Joe Panicker from Aerate Sound. We also have EMF, Vedang and Jeevan Antony on other tracks. Mo Joshi and me are collaborators on the publication end of the mixtape, we hope to co-release our agency, Elements, with this tape.
Tell us about the artwork
Artist Abhishek Choudhury did the art. Him and I keep bumping a lot of lofi music together and this one playlist by Bootleg Boy on YouTube inspired us to make the art.
Which other artists or rappers, if any, have inspired your work?
Many artists have inspired me. Predominantly, Kanye West, Chance the rapper, Tyler Creator, J Cole and Shiloh Dynasty.
Any upcoming gigs?
Yes, all around the place. I think the next will be with my boys from Delhi, No Diggity. Announcements on my website, smokeytheghost.com.