That's the advice Divine and the Gully Gang want to give you with their new lockdown EP, Shutdown
If you thought that India's rap revolution was slowing down, then Gully Gang will make sure you bite your tongue. The team, which is a part of Gully Gang Entertainment, launched by one of the pioneers of modern Indian rap, Divine, launched their new EP on Friday. It has tracks that are collaborations between rappers Shah RuLe, MC Altaf, Frenzzy, Sammohit, Sledge, Saifan, hip-hop artistes D'Evil, Exhibit, music producer Karan Kanchan, DJ Proof and Divine himself. "The seeds of this EP were sown at a songwriting camp in Goa we all attended last July. It was for the first time, we were together for an extended period and had the chance to figure out each other's style. Then, this January, we rented out homes in Lonavala, and set up studios there. After that, it was non-stop recording. Eat, sleep, record. Many of those songs have now made it to this EP," says Shah RuLe.
When we hear the EP, we are pleasantly surprised. While it keeps the roots intact, as the rappers address injustice and society ills, it's more melodic in nature, with pop undertones, and R&B influences. Divine and his team curated the songs, and a lot of additional work was put in during the lockdown, with the artistes adding bits and pieces, and fine tuning the production. The result is a world-class album, with a global sound. We have voices from all over India.
"This is the perfect time to be working on full-fledged albums, as we don't have the stress of touring; we are not worrying about gigs. We are spending time with ourselves, and we should use that to make music and be creative," Divine says in a contemplative moment, He also sees the lockdown as the perfect time to release the album—although unplanned—since listeners are able to consume more content at this time. We especially loved the track Bag, which is his collaboration with Delhi-based rapper KR$NA, which to us is Divine meets Drake meets Little Wayne meets Usher. "It's a track that says, 'don't worry, just be savage!' It's appropriate for these times. But on a different note, the song, and the EP, is about sticking to your roots, while trying to be out of the box. I can rap all day, but these days, I feel like I have melodies inside me that are waiting to emerge."
Rappers Frenzzy, Sammohit, Sledge, Saifan and Shah RuLe. Pics/ Mohit Mukhi (Glitch)
Shah RuLe says, "Most chord progressions will drive emotions. Our songs are about the unrest and unhappiness among us. They roughly recap everyone's worries, but also tie us together as humans. We stick together."
If they are worried about the live season not picking up immediately, they don't show it. "Right now, we are catering to old and new fans using the digital platform."
MC Altaf adds that for the first time, he has been able to focus on music, and the stories within him that were neglected. "We have unique stories, full of hustle. People relate to our lives, and that works for us. This collaboration is just the start of a new age for Indian rap. In the next few years, the collaborations will go international for sure." For Divine, this EP is a work of art for and from the people. "This is the first time we have experimented and gone beyond the Bombay sound. We have voices form the north, south and east. We will continue with such projects because rap belongs to all of us."
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