BADSHAH’S KING­DOM OF HIP-HOP

The Sunday Guardian - - The Week -

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-

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