'Rap is bridging gaps now'

'Rap is bridging gaps now'
For many, rap is a way of expressing something that is beyond just lyrics. Rap artiste Shree Sen aka Shree Ujjwal Sen, who hails from Hailakandi, Assam, raps with panache in different languages. The artiste, in an interview with Tini Sara Anien, talks about the intriguing world of hiphop music. 

Your journey into music...

I was a hardcore death metal fan. Later, I came across works by artistes like ‘Asian Dub Foundation’ and a solo artiste ‘Akala’, which transformed the way I look at music. Their way of narrating stories was out of the world. I got attracted to the way they presented issues through music and I felt like doing something through this form. I had found some friends in the US on a social media platform, who were rapping in Bengali and English and this inspired me to try it. 

Some of your own works...

I worked on a mixtape called ‘Bishak’to’ (poisonous), which was appreciated by many Bengali rap artistes in the US. A mixtape in the year 2014 titled ‘Sylheti’ also got some fan following. I worked on more tracks, but the surprising part was that I didn’t get as much support from the Northeast where I hail from, as much as I garnered from Bengaluru. The audience was very encouraging, though the language was alien to them. I released an album, ‘Corrupted Somaj’, which had Bengali and English in it. 

Though I was an amateur artiste then, it got a lot of attention in Bangladesh, including me being invited to a popular event ‘Hip Hop Jaati’ in Bangladesh. 

Works of yours that can be highlighted...

I was also a part of the latest Kannada hiphop album ‘KA01’ as a Kannada rapper, which got a lot of reviews. I am working on multiple themes at the moment and I have two albums in the pipeline.

Which languages do you rap in?

I can rap in many languages, but I primarily rap in Bengali, English, Assamese and Kannada.

Your aim through rap is to...

I aim to reach out to people from different communities and connect to more cultures. I just finished a track named ‘Rage’ which includes 12 languages like English, Kannada, Manipuri, Jaow, Nagamese, Assamese, Bangla, Khokborok and Mizo, through which I intend to create new ties. I wanted to come out with something unique and this was just that. Rap is bridging gaps now.

Rap for you is...

I talk about racism and politics, but with a more positive approach. I ask people to come out of their comfort zone and contribute to the society. 

You are influenced by...

I listen to more UK rap artistes that includes ‘Akala’, ‘Skinnyman’ and ‘Foreign Beggars’. There’s a new artiste, ‘Ocean Wisdom’, whom I really like. 

Has hiphop music changed? 

It has changed a lot. When I started, there were very few people in the scene, but there are many who have their own tracks now. It was tough for me to buy a beat and I had to pay a lot for it earlier. But nowadays, there are a lot of free instrumental beats that one can get online and people can record from home. 

If not into rap music...

I would have been a photographer. I have done a project on hiphop music through the medium, which was well noticed. 

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