Oriya rapper Big Deal may just be the most real voice on the streets
If you’ve ever wondered why the 2002 Scott Silver hip hop drama 8 Mile is often touted as life-changing cinema, you only need to know about the Bangalore-based rapper Big Deal. The film not only got Eminem his first and only Oscar, but it gave Big Deal a way to pursue his love for rap rather seriously. The rapper, whom we caught up with an hour before his Breezer Vivid Shuffle afterparty set at Levels The Club, revealed how it all began. “8 Mile was my introduction to rap, and Eminem (who stars in the movie as an angsty Detroit rapper) heavily influenced me in the beginning years and there was a time when I knew every Eminem song there was. Since then I have moved on to J Cole who really opened me up to more mature music. I really love Joyner Lucas and this new artiste called NF, who's like a dark version of Eminem," the rapper tells us.
Born to a Japanese mother and an Indian father, the Oriya rapper, whose real name is Samir Rishu Mohanty is one of the most prolific young voices belting out music about the things which really matter. His debut single One Kid shaped up his earlier trajectory of never fitting in anywhere with lyrics like ‘Growing up in Puri, I felt so confused/ Why do I look like no one else in the school? I mean I got small eyes, also a flat nose/ Which is why all guys happened to crack jokes.’ But over the last few years, Big Deal has earned himself the Radio City Freedom Best Hip hop artist 2016, Sennheiser top 25 artist in India, and has also worked on the 2015 Dibakar Banerjee flick Detective Byomkesh Bakshy. Interestingly, Big Deal’s debut EP was a crowdfunded one, and we asked the rapper about how it really works. “3 years back I was struggling a little, the scene wasn’t very big. I wanted to release my EP, and the only way to do it was to crowdfund it. I reached out to a small number of friends and family, and I was able to raise around 2.5 lakhs which allowed me to release the record. I’m very grateful that it happened,” Big Deal reveals.
Representation has been a unifying theme in most of Big Deal’s work, and he tells us he derives inspiration from the history of hip hop. “Rap, I believe, has always been about representation. Most American rappers represent the area they are from, their lifestyles and so on. Growing up half Japanese, half Indian in a place like Orissa, I have really interesting stories to tell people as I have had a unique life. I feel obligated to speak about what I’ve been through,” Big Deal reveals. The rapper, whose most popular track till date is a regional one, namely Mu Heli Odia (I am Odia), revealed that he is coming up with a number about the North East pretty soon. “The Indian scene is so big right now, there’s so much happening. When I was starting out, it was really difficult to have a career in rap. But now, I’m blessed to do music full-time, and I’m not struggling anymore, and it’s a good feeling. The scene has expanded to a level where artistes like me can have a livelihood through music,” he adds.