Shah Rule opens up about his work beyond Gully Boy
An hour before he went live with his Gully Gang squad, we found Mumbai rapper Shah Rule deep in the midst of an arduous soundcheck at The Levels Club on a Saturday night. “I studied audio engineering and I do some freelance audio mixing as well, although rap is where my priority really lies. I mix and master for myself and for everyone, I have worked in studios and worked with the equipment. I researched hip hop, and studied its origins in London while I was at university, so I know quite a bit about how it all comes about,” Shah Rule tells us during our conversation. The rapper, who was in town to perform at the Breezer Vivid Shuffle afterparty, has lived and worked across the world. Born in Hong Kong, brought up in Moscow, and educated in London, the rapper spent his summer performing across the country as part of the third edition of the Breezer Vivid Shuffle hip hop festival, which has taken some major strides in bringing desi hip hop closer to the people of the country.
This summer also saw the release of Gully Gang Cypher, which is the first single by Gully Gang Records, an offshoot label of Divine’s independent endeavor Gully Gang Entertainment. Besides Shah Rule, the number (which crossed the 1 million mark on YouTube) also features budding Mumbai rap quartet Aavrutti and some well-known names like Mumbai rapper D’Evil, and music producer Karan Kanchan. You’ll probably remember Shah Rule from his punchy cameo in Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy, where he had a face-off with Ranveer Singh’s Murad at an underground rap battle; but the rapper tells us his Gully Boy act doesn’t resemble him in real life.
“In the film, they needed kind of an antagonistic presence, I play this rich guy who puts Ranveer down. I obviously don’t represent those values. At the end of the day, I didn’t grow up in a gully, I have grown up all over the world, but I have seen the struggle in music. And like most people, I had to start from the bottom and build the connections. In fact, I was pitching to Excel Entertainment (distributors of Gully Boy) as a songwriter just a few years ago, and it didn’t work out. But then three years later I was cast as an actor in their film. Everything happens at the right time, you know. Hip hop came at the right time, and then guys like Divine pushed it, and it reached a point where no one can ignore it anymore,” Shah Rule tells us.
The rapper has been a steady name in some of the most prolific hip hop line-ups in the country and reveals that he has been loving the hip hop scene in India, and in fact, has a busy season lined up. “I love doing club gigs, I see people who have 9-5 jobs who just want to go out and have fun. And I come with a sense of it — that these guys have had a long week, and I want them to have a good time and experience hip hop the way I love it. At festivals, I get to do my kind of music, and it’s good that infrastructure of festivals and venues have been growing so much in the last few years, and actually made room for hip hop,” remarks Shah Rule.