Rapper Shah Rule of Gully Boy fame is performing in Chennai this weekend
The artiste talks about a new album in the pipeline, Rajinikanth films and what it was like on set with Ranveer Singh
Rapper Shah Rule is coming to Chennai. And he promises to “keep it lit.” The 25-year-old best known for that final epic battle scene with Ranveer Singh in Gully Boy will be making his debut performance in the city, as part of The Park Chennai’s 17th-anniversary celebrations, this weekend.
Over a phone call from a studio in Mumbai, we cover everything from censorship to collabs to Rajinikanth films.
Excerpts from the interview:
What do you have in store for your show this weekend?
A mix of hip-hop, commercial, some of my own stuff and some music from Gully Boy as well. DJ Proof and myself have been performing together for two years. We just did a tour with Jagermeister a few months ago. He’s one of the most prominent DJs in the Mumbai hip-hop scene, so we’re just, you know, bringing a good party vibe to Chennai.
Given that you’ve never been to Chennai before, are you going to be doing some exploring after...
Unfortunately, I’m only there for a night. But I have a few friends in the music industry in Chennai like DJ Kave, so hopefully I’ll get to meet some local DJs and rappers, and get a feel of the local hip-hop scene out there.
Have you ever watched a Rajinikanth film?
Bits and pieces, yes. I know the film industry in South India is huge and is also very different from Bolllywood, and I pay a lot of attention to the music, which is always high quality and on point.
Do you have some new music coming out this summer?
Yes, I’m in the studio right now working on a single with Delhi rapper Krsna. I also have a song coming out soon with Raja Kumari. And at the end of the month, there’s going to be a surprise video with Divine’s label Gully Gang, which I signed on with a couple of weeks ago. I also have an EP, slated to come out by the end of the year.
Can you give us some names of songs slated for release?
There is a single coming out with Raftaar which should be out in the next month or two. It’s called Me and My Pen — a personal track for rappers when it comes to defending your word, with critics judging everything you say. You have a right to your opinion and your pen is your weapon.
Pump up the bling
You always have on some really cool headgear. How many caps do you have in your collection?
That’s part of my brand called Rule Worldwide, we’re launching apparel at the end of the year as well. But as for how many I have personally... I’d say somewhere around the 200 to 300 range.
That is crazy! What about gold chains and rings?
Ah, don’t even ask. My mother was in the jewellery business so every time she opens a box, I’m like, ‘can I have that, and that...’ So boxes and boxes, I wouldn’t be able to count!
Does that pen feel a bit restricted in India? You grew up in London and Moscow, where dropping profanities in a rap song is almost the norm.
With the digital age upon us — I think everyone is vocal. At the end of the day, you still find an explicit label on iTunes. When albums come out, there is a clean version and an explicit version. So I think it is all part of your creative expression. Personally for me, if a line has an F-bomb in it and that has impact, then I’ll keep it in there. But if not, I’ll take it out. At the end of the day, it’s (profanities) a part of music and culture, and there are Hindi words in music that are as bad, or worse, than the English ones!
Is it harder for you, rapping in Hindi?
Hindi is not my first language, so it’s pretty jumbled and broken. When I do work on Hindi lyrics, I am usually sitting down with writers.
I grew up around Hindi, but I just never picked it up. Possibly because I was raised in an American school and everything was English. At my house, when my parents didn’t want us to understand something, they would speak in Hindi... (laughs) In fact, my Russian is better than my Hindi!
I grew up with a lot of Hindi around me, but I just never picked it up. Possibly because I was raised in an American school and everything was English. At my house, when my parents didn’t want us to understand something, they would speak in Hindi... In fact, my Russian is better than my Hindi!
— Shah Rule
Do you ever worry about forgetting lyrics?
I have these sets where every 20-30 seconds a commercial song will change. So my fear is more, will the audience vibe with that song? And touring as much as I have, I’ve been able to understand which cities want what, like — Hyderabad is very hip-hop oriented, Mumbai is free game — you can try anything from old school to new school to Bollywood, but in smaller cities like Indore you have to be very careful and more commercial. And I see myself as an entertainer, so I’m there to make sure that everyone has a great time. Lyric-wise, I know my DJ has a mic, so worst case, he can back me up! (laughs)
On May 18. At Pasha, The Park Chennai. 11 pm onwards.
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