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These bachchas can hip-hop too

Updated on: 24 February,2024 08:07 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Shriram Iyengar |

With their new EP, The Dharavi Dream Project talents, Saniya MQ and Kavikaar slam home a reminder that hip-hop isn’t the domain of only grown-ups

These bachchas can hip-hop too

Ayush AKA Kavikaar and Saniya MQ at The Dharavi Dream Project school. Pics/Anurag Ahire

Mere baaton mein hai dum/kalam mein syaahi/Shaant sa toofan/Main macha dunga tabaahi.’ These direct powerful verses are an example of the skill and raw talent that defines Ayush Begar AKA Kavikaar and Saniya Mistry AKA Saniya MQ’s latest collaboration Bachha kisko bol raha hai. The six-track EP by the music label, Tiger Baby Records, produced by Harshit Mishra AKA Hashbass with Ankur Tewari as creative producer marks the second release focused on the younger demographic.

While it is the medium of the oppressed, hip-hop has often been dominated by the adults. “The idea was to create something for the youth. It sounded interesting when Ankur [Tewari] suggested. So, I decided to take it up,” says producer Harshit Mishra.

(From left) Ayush and Saniya with Hashbass at the school studio(From left) Ayush and Saniya with Hashbass at the school studio

The two talents that emerged from The Dharavi Dream Project were Saniya and Ayush. One listen to the EP, and you understand why. The duo is confident, direct and carry a brash attitude that reflects their youthful ambitions.

Incidentally, both began to rap in their early teens. For Saniya, 18, it was a random challenge by her classmates, while Ayush, 19 was inspired by his elder brother. “We might belong to different neighbourhoods, but we have experienced similar things. What takes time for people to realise as adults, we have seen already,” Saniya states matter-of-factly. They also share the common thread of the curation of The Dharavi Dream Project.

For the duo, hip-hop is not just play. It is work. Ayush remarks how he would write and work on his rhymes, while Saniya recalls doing homework on wordplay and rhythm. Tracks such as Super mom, Antakshri, Vibe de and Ek hi baat hai showcase the finesse, while being fun, groovy and relatable. Mishra says, “The relatability and flair in their verses impressed me. Their delivery and articulation are on point. As a producer, my objective was to simply sculpt what they deliver.”

While the duo came up with the verses and ideas, Mishra says he worked on introducing them to chorus, overlays and simple additions. “His beats are crazy. He got our vibe instantly. That made it easy,” says Ayush.

Yet, such confidence cannot be faked. “I learnt very early on that if I have to survive, I cannot have self-doubt. Even if I did everything right, people will find a way to criticise me. We have worked on this art, made mistakes and learned. That’s where our confidence comes from,” replies Saniya. Currently in her first year of Bachelors of Mass Media at NG Acharya College in Chembur, the Govandi-resident aims to blend her education with her hip-hop career. “To stay in the industry, I need to understand how it works,” she quips.

Regard them as children at your own peril. The eponymous title track is proof of that. It rips into the patronising attitude that anyone might hold towards two teens blazing their way through verses. “We keep hearing such comments like, ‘You are so young and already rapping so well’. So, we made that into a hook,” chuckles Saniya.

It is hard not to feel inspired by such cleverness. Another brilliant work, Ayush’s Maths mera dushman felt like an articulation of unsaid childhood trauma for this writer. “My toughest subject is mathematics,” the Dharavi-resident laughs, “No matter how many times I would do the sums, they would remain unsolved. I would always be the last in the group.” Ergo, a rap that outlines the journey of an artiste struggling with society’s demand that an intelligent student must be good in cracking numbers.

“Hip-hop was meant to spread its wings; I want to speak about my experiences and my people to as many as I can. I also want to evolve as a rapper this year,” he explains. For Mishra, working on the EP was revealing. “It was so inspiring watching them. There is nothing childish or simple about their rap, although it comes from the perspective of young minds,” he concludes.

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