The MF crew member talks about live elements in Hip Hop and balancing his penchant for rapping in English and Hindi.
You don’t have to rack your brains to drop a beat and melody that can groove to a volley of rhymes that makes up the rap genre. But the homeboys in the city are denting those rules even before hitting mainstream. This breed is rooting to make hip hop more than a case of verbal diarrhea to connect with the different facets of the audience.
Of course, when a crew fires up all its assets for a jig, there’s already a live element in the form of b boying, beat boxing, turn tablism and breaking. But you wouldn’t see anyone playing an instrument unless it’s an act like MUMBAI citybased hip hop group, Bombay Bassment.
But artists like rapper/producer Kinga Rhymes believes that hip hop is meant to be a live act and wants to tweak the mindset of audience who thinks otherwise.
Sahir Nawab aka Kinga Rhymes from Mumbai’s Finest (MF), the city’s first hip hop collective, is making sure that their onslaught should be packed with elements such as the synthesizers and live drums.
“In India there exists a very foundation level scene in hip hop as no one really wants a hip hop act because they think there’s nothing live there, which is why we added drums and the synthesizer,” Kinga Rhymes laments.
Kinga Rhymes, with his unassuming figure and attire, has been writing and spitting words for seven years. And like the majority, his intent was to pick up a guitar and grunge it out, but lack of finances led him to take up the pen and dip into some poetry that eventually became his rhymes of reason.
“At that time I couldn’t afford a guitar and I thought fuck that, and started writing poems that opened me to the world of rap,” Kinga Rhymes recalls.
But the itch to play an instrument always invaded him and he began playing piano and later on the laptop as well to make, what he calls, “weird music”. Surely enough, those experiences have come in handy for him as a key producer in the MF crew and launch into experimental beat and groove drops for their live gigs.
“I generally compose MF’s tracks, backing tracks and play the synth as well. We now have a live set where we do experimental fusion stuff,” he adds.
But it wasn’t an easy ride down the years with drugs and addictions that had plagued the streets of Millat Nagar where he resides. A lot of his lyrics address these concerns and the government-mafia brotherhood. “The drugs were freely available and people have been killed here in broad daylight and no one wants to talk about these stark issues,” says Kinga Rhymes.
For him, speaking his mind out through verbal attack requires a healthy balance of rapping in English and Hindi.
Kinga Rhymes says, “I prefer both. India is a place where people speak a lot of English; still Hindi is a prominent language. It’s different when you write in Hindi as it relates to your mind and what you’re trying to say is from the heart.”
Which is why, you can see him belting the best of both worlds in the Mumbai Cypher’s video, featuring Stony Psycho of Dopedelics, Swadesi crew’s Mawali and Tod Fod, Slumgods’ A.B.Y and MF’s Ace.
“But English has its own touch as it’s very universal even though I think Hindi has a harder impact. Everyone’s heard hardcore impactful stuff in English, everyone’s spoken their mind, rebelled in that form of language, but not so much in Hindi,” he adds.
Kinga Rhymes also has a word for all the killjoys and prophets of doom.
“People try to demotivate you. Friends, family and generally people around us who didn’t get this whole rap, hip hop culture,” Kinga Rhymes says.
“It took us time to get where we are right now so I write to motivate people to do what they want and not back down,” He says.
As for the future, taking up a job is the last thing on the mind for this management graduate who prefers to instead march ahead with his poetic struggles.
Kinga Rhymes is featured in Hip Hop Homeland, a series about India's underground hip hop scene.
By Mohan KK