Rapper Divine and his Gully Gang comrades launch their latest album Shutdown
There’s something about Divine’s brand of hip-hop that makes you stop and listen closely. Words breathe fire in every line of his. Honesty meets courage in his verses, almost as if he is trying to talk to you while showing you a mirror to things you may otherwise miss during your everyday life. His latest album, Shutdown, is no different, as he sheds light on many societal issues.
But, he is not alone in this project as he is joined by a few artistes from his extended family in Gully Gang (the group founded by him that scouts for fresh hip-hop talent). “Shutdown is a collaborative effort where we have put together a mix of tracks with different styles,” says Divine, alias Vivian Fernandes. Accompanying him in this new project are D’Evil, Shah Rule, MC Altaf and Aavrutti, plus KRSNA, Sikander Kahlon and Kaka Sady. “There are also composers and producers from the Gully Gang roster, including Karan Kanchan, Stunnah and Xplicit,” the rapper reveals.
The eight-track album faced its fair share of problems due to the lockdown. When the restrictions were temporarily eased, limited access to recording studios became the biggest challenge. “Artistes and collaborators are used to being in the studio or in the same space while putting together a lot of ideas but overcoming current challenges became more important,” says Divine, adding that he is quite happy with how the project has shaped up. “It has exceeded our expectations. It’s a learning experience that we can take into our upcoming albums this year,” he says.
Talking about future projects by rappers like MC Altaf and D’Evil, he further reveals, “They have an album in the pipeline. Both have very different yet versatile skills that complement each other quite well. Then we have Aavrutti’s upcoming album that drops very soon — they’re a group of four very young rappers from Mumbai who have a distinctive flow and writing abilities. What really sets them apart from myself and their peers from Mumbai is the way they use language in their writing — it’s sonically very distinct and I think this album will really define their sound in the hip-hop ecosystem.”
Are you listening?
In an age when the freedom of speech and expression is on knife’s edge, how can hip-hop help those who want to speak up but are afraid to do so for various reasons? Divine feels that talking about anything that one feels strongly about through music and lyrics is one of the most authentic ways to do so. He says, “It’s encouraging that a lot of artistes are using this as a medium to highlight and bring up issues which plague us as a society. Art in general, especially hip-hop, has been a medium for the society to explore new ideas and ways of doing things while fostering the creation of new things. Hip-hop, by tradition, is not bound to a particular theme or style. Therefore we see some of the best artistes exploring creative and lyrical boundaries consistently.”
This is the case with Shutdown too, as the tracks in the album touch upon a wide variety of topics, ranging from socio-political themes to subjects like the benefits of hard work, overcoming introversion, and exploration of individuality and originality. Divine elucidates, “The album is an attempt to present hip hop as one of the most real genres, capable of showcasing stark reality for what is, but yet have an innate ability to heal and keep listeners motivated and positive.”
Released by Mass Appeal India. Listen to the album on Spotify.
♦ BRINKS — D’Evil, Elvis Brown, MC Altaf
♦ Bas Kya Ba — 7Bantaiz, D’Evil feat. DIVINE
♦ Bag — DIVINE feat. KR$NA
♦ I’m Sorry — Sikander Kahlon, Kaka Sady
♦ Flavours — MC Altaf, Saifan, Sammohit
♦ Bandana Gang — Sikander Kahlon, DIVINE
♦ Alag Hai Disha — MC Altaf, Saifan, Sammohit, Sledge
♦ Nahi Pata — Frenzzy, Sammohit, Shah Rule feat. DIVINE
You can connect with the writer via mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him @karan_pillai