Opening a rapper

Updated: Jan 13, 2020, 09:40 IST | Shunashir Sen | Mumbai

It's taken hip-hop mainstay Naezy five years for his first album, but better late than never

Naezy. Pic/ Pradeep Dhivar
Naezy. Pic/ Pradeep Dhivar

Naezy is a funny guy. Seriously. His debut album, Maghreb, is brimming with humour. But you have to get it to appreciate it. It's almost like he's pulling you into an inside joke. Even when he is talking about love in Pyaar hai, for example, you don't quite know if the rapper from Kurla is talking about a girl or whether he means it about you. The song's got a nudge-nudge-wink-wink feel. And that playful quality gives the musician a unique voice in the sphere of gully rap. This is a hip-hop album that makes you laugh, a rarity in Indian indie.

But there are moments of anger, too. In Khamakha, the singer warns against the pitfalls of accepting your lot when people around are taking you for a ride. In Jeeta haara on the other hand, he gets self-reflective — philosophical even — talking about how life is just a ride. Mere bhantai is a straight-out love letter to the youngsters coasting on the tidal wave that Indian hip-hop is becoming. And in Kon hard, the last track, Naezy embodies an old-school hip-hop tradition of baring your chest, thumping it with your fist, and announcing to the world that you have arrived.

It's an important album, this one. It's also taken the musician a while to release it after his breakthrough hit in 2015, Mere Gully Mein, and we fired three quick questions at him. Here's what he said.

What took you so long to release your first album?

I was pretty satisfied with what I was doing earlier. My singles were creating an impact and I was happy releasing just them. But then I thought that it was important to create a larger body of work, to give some direction to youngsters who are getting into hip-hop. Also, in terms of my career, I was on a break for a while, and I thought that this was the right time to release a record since hip-hop albums in India are still rare. They are starting to come up only now.

What was on your mind when you named the album 'Maghreb'?

Maghreb means 'west' in Urdu, and the West has inspired me a lot. Hip-hop originated there, so it's very critical in my life. I also grew up in Mumbai, which is in the west of the country. So a lot of things were in that direction.

What are some of the things around you that you find funny?

Everything around me is funny. Whatever is happening in the nation right now is funny. People are reacting and trolling each other, but I look at it in a different way. You can't be serious all the time. People think I am sombre. But ask my friends and they'll tell you that I'm pulling their leg all the time. Even when I am on the set with Divine for instance, we start cracking jokes. Having said that, I used to be funnier. But now, life has become more serious.

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