Rap your head around this album

Published: Jan 22, 2020, 07:00 IST | Shunashir Sen | Mumbai

Two young hip-hop artistes have released their debut album after winning a talent hunt

Warboy (left) and Devm
Warboy (left) and Devm

It was in June last year that we had first written about Ashutosh Rai and Devam Pandey, aka Warboy and Devm. This was after the rapper-producer duo had won Redbull Spotlight, a talent hunt for hip-hop artistes held in Mumbai. A part of the deal for winning the event was that the organisers would assist them in recording their debut album. That musical offering is now set for a January 24 launch. It's called Out of the Blue and includes songs that fall under the bracket of Pahadi rap, the name that the two 20-year-olds have given to their genre of hip-hop.

The reason is simple. Rai hails from Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh, a place that's far removed from the urban realities that most Indian rappers touch upon. His lyrics thus deal with what life in the mountains is like; the words depicting the struggles and triumphs of a youngster living in a small Himalayan town. Rai tells us, "I have picked up small issues and tried to paint them in a bigger light, through which I can relay my feelings to the listener. There's also a song about my teenage years, when my family tried to take me down the right path, but I was misguided and fell into the wrong hands. It's happened with others in my hometown. And it will resonate with you, too, if you have ever been misguided yourself."

Pandey, a Mumbaikar, adds that the two are studying music in a Noida college at present. But they had returned to their respective homes for a two-month vacation right after winning the talent hunt. He says, "The plan was that we'd make a rough sketch while on holiday on what to include in the album, before touching base again in August and fine-tuning the tracks. We also thought of collaborating with other artistes, and approached Shaikhspeare and Gravity. Plus, the organisers told us that there would be an international collaborator, which is how [American producer] Bixtel came on board."

But it was Tony Psycho of Mumbai crew Dopeadelicz who gave them sagely advice right before they were entering the studio, when he said, "This is where the real magic happens." Rai and Pandey held on to those words, and the whole recording process was a massive learning experience since they understood the importance of overcoming technical issues like the lack of a filter on a certain mic. Both agree that this is going to hold them in good stead in the future, which bodes well for Indian hip-hop too, because in the sea of regional rap floating about in the country, it's important to keep a voice from the mountains from drowning out.

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