He raps for relief

Updated: Mar 22, 2020, 08:54 IST | Aastha Atray Banan | Mumbai

Bengaluru musician Siddhant Ashok dips into his troubled childhood to rap about anxiety, ADHD and miscommunication with parents in his latest EP

I am anxious by nature. It's my biggest weakness, one that I have been trying to overcome," says Bengaluru resident Sidhanth Ashok, better known as Inner Rhymes in the rapper world. His interest in the music genre piqued when his chef mother would listen to Eminem at home, but the real thrust for writing came in eight Class VIII when he was bullied for having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). "The bullying escalated when the kids found out I was on medication. It was then that I started asking myself, am I really different. It was a hard time," Ashok, 22, remembers. But like any artiste, he decided to turn his heartbreak into work, and at first, started writing poetry, which eventually evolved into rap.

Today, as he pursues a masters degree in psychology, he is given to writing and rapping about mental health in an attempt to reach out to others like him, who might have the same experiences. "My father used to move cities for work, and so, there was always this pressure to interact with [new] people. It pushed me to being a loner. But it was music that had me realise that this is me, so I sort of came into my own."

Ashok's latest project, Inner Reveal-ations, which he launched a week ago, has been a year in the making. He says it was inspired by his knack for hanging out with the wrong crowd in order to fit in. "I was in bad company. That resulted in extreme highs. So, I decided to start working on a new project, and wrote about 25 tracks. Only four have made it [to the EP]." If Lullaby is about taking medication for a disorder when you are a school kid, Unsent Letters refers to conversations he never ended up having with his parents. "My dad is a conservative father, and was apprehensive about my rapping; also about pursuing psychology. It was only when I landed up in the papers once that he realised it [my work] was serious. I have never been able to have an open conversation with him. I am closer to my mother, but when I was growing up, she was busy with work," he confesses. The track, Panic Attack speaks of anxiety, and Lately concludes the EP in a melodic, but melancholic way by summing up how Inner Rhymes feels about the issues he has addressed in the previous tracks.

The rap is soothing because Ashok has a melodic style. And that he hopes helps dispel the myth that the rapping community is characterised by toxic masculinity. "Desi rapping is masculine, but I want to say that it's okay to be vulnerable, as a rapper, and as person." And he is enjoying the feedback. "Some listeners are telling me in turn about their parents! In the end, it's really about hearing someone out. Mental health above everything else is about listening."

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