BADSHAH’S KINGDOM OF HIP-HOP
Aditya Prateek Singh Sisodia, the 32-yearold rapper known by his stage name Badshah, grew up in Chandigarh and started his rap career back in 2006, when there wasn’t much of a hip-hop scene in any Indian city, least of all in Chandigarh. He started out rapping in English, like everyone does, following in the footsteps of his American heroes from New York and California. But soon, he felt the need to make music that was more personal and more rooted to his immediate setting. So Badshah started writing lyrics in Punjabi and Hindi, and made songs that had instant appeal for young listeners.
It was in 2012 that he got his first Bollywood song, “Saturday Saturday”, for Humpty Sharma Ki Dhulania. This song mainstreamed Badshah like never before, escalating his popularity to a whole new level. It also provided the template for the kind of songs that Badshah would become known for in the future: party anthems like “DJ Wale Babu” and “Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai” that have attained the status of classics in Indian film music.
The singer believes that it was his childhood passion for music that guided him to this stage in his career. Badshah tells Guardian 20, “While growing up, I was always inclined towards music, but no one in my family was involved in music professionally. We all just loved listening to it. Then I was introduced to this new form of storytelling called rapping. It was being practiced in the West and a lot of black people were using it as a medium to voice their opinion, to entertain, to express themselves and to tell their stories to everyone. I loved it and I instantly thought of doing it in my own way. Though I initially started as an English rapper, I soon realised that if I wanted to connect with people of my country and tell my story, then it needed to be done in Hindi.”
As a young man, Badshah completed his graduation in civil engineering for his family’s sake, knowing all the while that he wanted to be a professional musician. “My family,” he says, “wasn’t supportive at that time. The reason being, I belong to a middle-class family. They expected me to become an engineer or a doctor. Another thing was, there was no rapper in the industry for any sort of reference who could set a benchmark. There were singers but I wanted to do something that was completely unheard of.”
His early days in the industry were full of challenges. Yet the virtual lack of competition was the silver lining. He says, “In a way it was easy because I had no competition, and difficult because I had no idea how it was going to be like. But apparently, it all turned out to be very well for me.”
Following his Bollywood success, the rapper recently launched his first independent album, O.N.E. (Original Never Ends), in August this year—an album he had been working on since the last three years. Badshah says, “Working on this album was very overwhelming but exhausting at the same time. It is something that I’d been working on for the past three years. The title says ‘Original Never Ends’ and I believe in that. It has 17 songs and I don’t see anyone making that many songs in today’s time. The best part is that none of them [the songs] are remakes, all of them are originals. It is something that is very close to my heart.”
It’s thanks to artistes like Badshah that hip-hop culture has now begun to flour-