Badshah: Listeners won't give you a second chance
Set to release his awaited debut album, although grateful for audience love, Badshah says listeners are unforgiving because they're spoilt for choice
Can you talk about how you conceptualised ONE (Original Never Ends)?
I always wanted to make an album. It didn't matter if the 'trend' of creating albums was a thing of the past. There are 17 songs in this offering, and not one of them is treated as an option. I didn't want to make an album merely for the sake of doing so. I want to entertain my fans by giving them songs that they can cherish. Though, I fear, some of the songs might not see their full potential.
If you have that fear, why come up with a 17-song album?
Initially, there were 30 songs. It was difficult to eliminate numbers but I had to do it. This album will be unlike my previous work. It doesn't only include dance numbers. As an artiste, I've matured while making it. It harbours various emotions that people will connect with across the tracks.
It's been 12 years since you started your career. Have you analysed your incredible success?
I have never been able to point out what worked for me, but, I realise that I have been lucky. Also, I feel, I am a good human being. That has worked in my favour. People tell me, 'Tum achche bande ho.' That's common feedback [I get]. I'm tired of hearing it. That's also probably why my Instagram handle is Badboyshah. I haven't analysed my success, but I have monetised it by buying cars and a home. I am not materialistic, but I am earning, and love to spend on myself.
We're you always aware of your potential, especially when trying to break into the industry?
I have always had a goal in mind, one that keeps changing. For many, releasing a song, or composing for a film implies success. But, I am past that. The definition of success keeps on changing for me. Since I started working, I have competed with myself. I have been fortunate that my fans like my work. I never take them for granted. Today, the audience is intelligent. That's what I love about them. They give me an opportunity to experiment. At the same time, they have many options, and won't give an artiste a second chance. So, that also inspires me to keep delivering my best.
Are you not seduced by fame?
I don't take myself seriously. There is a difference between dealing with attention and fame. I can't deal with attention. I get conscious when fans come to click pictures with me. The reason I have security around is that I am awkward, and need someone to say, 'No'. As soon as I arrive at the airport, I wear my hoodie and plug in my earphones. I am aware of what is happening around me, but I try to avoid it. I can't deal with fame like, say Ranveer Singh does. I need to take lessons from him. It's incredible how he absorbs the love and is always energised to meet his fans.
You are considered a youth icon but you have also been criticised for your lyrics. Does that bother you?
I write about what I notice is happening around me . That is the reason people relate to my songs. I make music for the masses. So, when people criticise me, they are criticising the listeners. If I was a flop [artiste], I could have answered your questions, but my songs are chartbusters.
Do you feel that rap culture is growing in India?
It has never been as beautiful as it is right now. I just wish it gets better. Interestingly, the genre has penetrated to the place where it belongs — the streets. That is where its roots are. Today, street rappers are doing phenomenal work. It makes us proud.
Tell us about your upcoming Bollywood projects.
I am working on Namaste England and Stree. Bollywood normally calls me at the eleventh hour. I am the clean-up guy. When a film is about to release, they approach me and say, 'Boss ek gaana de do.' Then, I don't have the time to give them options. I tell them, 'I have this song, if you like it, take it.' That's how I normally function when it comes to movies.
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