Beating the rhythms

Word wars

Beating the rhythms

When 20-year-old Basawa Chetan says ‘I speak for the dead’, he isn’t talking about a seance or a game of Ouija. “It’s a metaphor for all the people who can’t and don’t know how to speak for themselves,” explains the rapper who goes by the stage name ‘Dead Poet’.

His lyrics try to give voice to the mute as he knows what it is like to stay quiet while time takes its toll. “I used to be really shy and wasn’t good at expressing my views but now, because of rapping, I’m able to speak my mind. And I’m hoping others, who are in the same place as I used to be, can relate to my songs and that it will help them.” This is also how his stage name came to be.

A Bengaluru-based hip hop artiste, Basawa is slowly exploring the music scene in India. He admits that hip hop has gained popularity in the last few years, but it hasn’t yet reached its full potential. Of the 5 elements that complete the genre — B-Boying, beatboxing, rapping, DJing and drawing graffiti — he enjoys rapping the most as it is very vocal in terms of emotion and thought. “Rap is relatable to people; it is the best way to connect to people, as it has lyrics. This gives it a personal touch which lacks in the other elements,” he states.

Inspired by old-school artistes like Dr Dre, the college student spends his free time rapping about various issues. “I practise when I’m walking on the streets or at home, at night when everyone else is asleep. My songs attempt to narrate the daily struggles of people, as a way to connect to them.” But there is more to his work than just describing struggles. “I converse with all kinds of people to learn what their lives are like before I write anything. It’s important to understand your audience,” he says.

Coming from a place of silence, he can’t emphasise enough on the importance of standing up for oneself. “The world tries to put you down and there’s so much competition, but one shouldn’t let that get to them.” Most of his work stresses on this point.

Though Basawa raps in English, he says that it’s more effective if regional languages are used because they have a wider reach. English, which tends to alienate its audience, can only do so much; it’s the regional languages that have the capabilities to popularise the hip hop culture in India. As more artistes attempt to do the same, Basawa finds himself filled with a sense of excitement. “I plan to pursue sound engineering after my degree! Initially my parents weren’t too thrilled with the idea but they are supportive now,” he says.

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