Kolkata's rap duo Adiakot is melding rap battles with hip-hop numbers
Rap battles have been integral to the narrative of hip -hop — be it Dr Dre vs Eazy E in the 1990s, or the online rap text combats on the now-defunct social media site Orkut, which is incidentally where EPR Iyer from the rap duo Adiacot got his start. The Kolkata-based hip hop act featuring EPR and rapper GJ Storm, is taking hip-hop back to its old-school rap battle beginnings.
One of Adiacot’s most phenomenal outings is actually a ‘diss’ track titled Gully Mein Apne Kutta Bhi Sher Hai, which came out last September; it calls out rappers Divine and Emiway, on their self-aggrandising lyrics, and shift of cultural allegiance. “I’m a rapper from Kolkata, and if I keep on referencing New York’s Bronx or relating Tupac to Jesus, it does not make sense. When Divine and Co started out, they talked about the real gully and it was really fresh. But that has become pretty stagnant. In our track Gully Mein Apne... we called out the best rappers to come for a battle with us. You know, how it used to happen in old-school hip-hop,” EPR tells us, about the song which has more than 185,000 views on YouTube. Indian hip-hop in all its diversity is still struggling to earn its place; Adiacot’s criticism of the out-of-touch brand of Indian rap and its repetitive flow comes across as refreshing amid the commercially-fueled hype.
“Indian hip-hop is really coming up. There are artistes like Mumbai-based rapper Manmeet Kaur aka MC Kaur, Borkung Hrangkhawl from Tripura, Khasi Bloodz and Meba Ofilia from Shillong, who are making exceptional music,” the emcee-cum-rapper tells us. Adiacot is perhaps one of the most socially relevant bands in the country right now, as it consistently belts out music about issues which hit us the hardest. EPR, who is also the frontman for the Kolkata-based rap rock band Underground Authority has been rapping for 14 years now, and tells us that his love for war poetry led him to hip-hop. “I used to love reading Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen and it inspired me to make something hardcore, which reaches out to the masses. I started teaching rap to people, and that’s actually how Adiacot was formed. We’ve always wanted to be socially resonant,” the rapper remarks.
Adiacot released a four-track EP earlier this year, titled Bik Gayi Hai Gormint, and just released their new single Abki Baar Kaun, which might just be their most radical outing yet. The song, which questions the misplaced priorities of the establishments, in terms of economy, freedom of expression and democracy, is a hard-hitting number with lyrics like, ‘Awam ki aawaz hain dabi aur ankhein band hai… Udaas hu ki ekta par kheechein hum lakeerein.’ Interestingly, EPR tells us that people have found a significant connect with their brand of hip-hop, and have been reaching out. “You know, people are really informed right now. They have well-formed opinions, thanks to the internet. So, when they come across music which calls a spade a spade, it appeals to them. We get so many messages from people asking us to rap about issues which matter to them, like women’s rights or animal cruelty. That itself tells us that somebody had to do what we’re doing,” we are told.
Adiacot has also scored the track for Season 2 of the web series, Love Lust and Confusion, and also surprised us with their plans for the future. The band wants to provide a legit platform for budding rappers by actually helping them perfect their beats — taking things up from a grassroot level, if you will. “GJ and I have been working on a new EP, and we’re looking to produce music for artistes who need and deserve the platform. We’re also planning a documentary which will see us go places we’ve never been to, work with young talent and help them produce a beat, or to help them make a video,” adds EPR.