Kochi-based music producer Parimal Shais’ debut album triggers a stated new wave of Dravidian identity
Ever since its inception in the 1970s New York, hip-hop music has been a vessel of cultural identity. The resurgence of regional language rap in the past decade brought about by artistes like Hip Hop Tamizha and Street Academics is proof that desi hip-hop is adapting to this trend as well. Kochi-based music producer Parimal Shais has taken this tradition up a notch with his latest release named Kumarikandam Traps Volume 1. He has brought together over 10 South Indian artistes to rap in English, Malayalam and Tamil, mobilising a novel Dravidian identity in Indian hip-hop. Canada-based Sri Lankan rapper Navz-47, singer-duo Cartel Madras, and Kerala-based artiste Thirumali are a few names on the list of collaborators. This album resonates a new sound from Parimal who has been DJing since 2011 and has previously released two EPs namely If I Was Born in 77 and Naach Basanti Naach. “I started off with glitch-hop, synthwave, and vapourwave. I was also sampling old Indian film songs. Hip-hop happened quite accidentally through a collaboration last year, but it got my interest,” says Parimal.
Stand up, stand out
Kumarikandam Traps Volume 1 definitely stands out for its versatility in rhythm, verse and language. While Naveeni’s Tamil song Thangam weighs more on the melodic end, Hanumankind’s Pharmaceuticals and Kochi-based rapper Shambhu Ajith’s (MC Couper) debut track Nerchappattu are made on the high-energy side. Instrumental numbers like Shaivite and Dravidian Energy helps this album surpass the language barrier, diving into the flow of South Indian folk and trap. Swayambhu, a collaboration between Thirumali and Parimal that was released as a single last year, is also part of the list.
The album’s name is derived from Kumari Kandam, a mythical submerged continent with an ancient Tamil civilisation. “This region is said to have birthed the two Tamil literary academies and is believed to be the cradle of Dravidian learning. We thought this would be a great symbol to represent the South-side revival we plan to bring out through music,” says Akkeeran, the creative director of this compilation. Parimal has infused the sounds of native folk instruments like pulluvan veena and thukil with trap elements to give a unique sound to each of the 15 tracks in this album. “It was exciting, in a way, to break down familiar tones and rebuild it for artistes who perform different styles. I think we all felt the energy of being united by history, and the lyrics are not just ‘mainstream ramble’. Every song has a message,” Parimal concludes.
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