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Sweet ‘Poison’ from Hard’s heart

British Indian rapper and hip hop singer Hard Kaur floors with her latest release 'Poison', writes Shilpi Madan

HARDCORE Rapper Hard Kaur

Rap is back and like how, with the smashing success of Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy. And singer Hard Kaur is supremely pleased. “I think it was great to see a Bollywood movie on hip hop. However, we have to still keep the movement going as we have been doing before the movie happened, and move further to create major platforms for the survival of the hip hop culture,” says Hard in her signature candid style.

Going places

But after the smashing success of countless songs in Bollywood, Telugu, Punjabi films, including chartbusters like Ek Glassy, Paisa Phek, Move your Body, Laung da Lashkara.... why has Hard moved away from playback? “Honestly, I was unhappy with the way the art, music and us artistes were being treated. It was just recapitulation, with songs turning into remakes, remakes, remakes.... After the success of “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ganapathi” from the movie ABCD, I thought we would start experimenting on another level. I am not blaming the music directors, lyricists, singers... as when you are being told what to make (because that is what sets the money flowing in), people are compelled to give in, and you simply cannot blame them. As for me, I realised that I simply had to let go.”

Hard has funnelled her creative energies into her latest baby, The Private Album, that has just released, to bring with it the single, Poison. The sound and lyrics melt together around the theme of life, passion, falling in love and heartache, joy, sex and pain.... a realm of feelings all of us go through at different points in our lives.

Unveiling the dark side

“Poison is about a dark side of getting into a relationship that you know you should not but once you have fallen for that love, it sees no barriers. Hence if it took me so long to express my feelings, one can only imagine what the LGBTQ community would have had to go through for many years. Freedom means to not have any fear. It means freedom to be, freedom to love whom you want, freedom to wear what you want, freedom to be who you want to be and be treated with dignity as a human and that is the right of every individual by birth,” she says. “

“I am elated, proud and just happy for this song. This is truly a celebration of freedom. India is changing and has made some strong and much-needed decisions for ensuring equality and here’s to that. We are all equal irrespective of our backgrounds caste or colour. And it’s a very proud thing for me to come out with this song to celebrate that amongst us. “

But, in this era of free downloads, how does Hard expect to monetise on her songs? “Things have got a little better in the digital age now but we still have a long way to go. Monetising on songs is now in control of the artiste. You can release and view your music and sales right on your screen as distribution sites are usually pretty transparent. It is about educating yourself to do things the new way.”

All things groovy

So what is Hard Kaur’s style? “Dancing to Mauja hi Mauja when I first came back to India, or in a club doing hip hop mix with Bollywood dance to Aaa re pritam piyare or straight up old school like Bach ke rena re Baba by Asha Bhosle ji.. that is my style,” she laughs in sheer abandon, confessing that in her heart she still cherishes Jagjit Singh as a vocal treasure and celebrates the power of playback singer Richa Sharma’s strong voice.

Meanwhile, Hard (aka Taran Kaur Dhillon) even smashes it on the domestic front (calling herself ghareyloo, believe it or not) for churning out the best, hottest Punjabi paranthas. Back to music. How is she “giving back” what she has learnt?

“My team Hip Hop Association India Movement and I created the biggest hip hop mixtape in the history of Indian music in 2017, featuring 30 best voices from around the globe to collaborate on one mixtape to give a chance to everyone. We went to No 1 on Apple on the day of the release and I won the MTV Europe Music Award for Best Indian Artist for the same. It is 2019 now and we are dropping Volume 2 with fresh new artistes once again. This project is what I’m always most excited about because this is the best way to give back to music,” she says.

And then there is her smashing single in collaboration with Su Real. “Lots more, but can’t tell everything now, can I?” she smiles.

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