Raising the bar

Hip hop beats

Raising the bar

Considered, but not limited to, as the ‘fifth element’ of hip hop, beatboxing is rhythms and beats flowing in harmony. And when 18-year-old Riyaz Ur Rehman is at his best, his music flows for hours together. In fact he holds the Limca Book of Records for the longest — a straight 10 hours — beatboxing marathon. “I can just keep beatboxing!” says the vocal percussionist.

Five years ago, he found home in hip hop after listening to greats like Eminem and Tupac. “I think most people relate to Eminem because he was an outsider to the culture himself and he changed how hip hop is perceived,” says Riyaz. And he finds it in him to push forward though the hip hop culture in India is relatively underdeveloped because of artistes like Eminem.

“I got interested in hip hop at an early age, after watching YouTube videos, but somehow, I took to beatboxing quicker than the other elements.” Explaining the other elements of hip hop, he adds, “There are 5 elements — emceeing, DJing, B-boying, drawing graffiti art and beatboxing. Though I was most interested in emceeing or rapping I somehow floated towards beatboxing.” While he plans to rap, he says, “No, no, no” when asked if he’s going to try the other elements. Distinguishing between rap and beatboxing, Riyaz adds, “Beatboxing is like music coming out of you and rap is your emotions flowing out.

This is one of the reasons I like the hip hop culture — it is different and a way to express your most personal thoughts so that they become relatable to everyone.” This particular quality of the genre makes him call it ‘music therapy’.

Having performed at 600 corporate shows, college events and music gigs, the youngster is hopeful that the hip hop culture is gaining more prominence in India. “Bengaluru, in particular, has a good space for us. It’s challenging to get people to listen as they aren’t accustomed to hip hop but many give it a chance, which is a good sign.” 

Talking about his world record and how he managed to beatbox for 10 hours, he says, “It was easy as I love it. None of what I did was rehearsed; all the music comes to me on spot and I improvise as I go.”

Catching and coupling the beats may seem hard but when Riyaz does it, they move with ease. He can’t hold his excitement when he adds, “I also have my debut rap song coming out soon, it’s called ‘Mediocre’.”

Using words and beats to solidify his thoughts, Riyaz plans to go a long way in the music scene. Though he is still in college, he sees a bright future ahead.

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