“We have realized poetry can bring awareness to mankind” – A talk with the Swadesi crew

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Slowly gaining a cult following, Swadesi’s style of vernacular hip-hop is helping the genre reach to newer audiences in India and striking a chord with veterans with their explosive on-stage delivery. A 5 member hip-hop crew based in Mumbai (earlier only MC Mawali, MC Tod Fod and Joshua), Swadesi was joined by 100RBH and Maharya on their latest release ‘Khulle Naagde’. A collaborative effort between producer, Bandish Projekt and Swadesi, the EP is an expression of Swadesi’s socio-poiltical activism in a head bobbing, spirit-riling format. We talk to the crew to get to know them better. Read below!

1. What inspired you to get into Hip-hop?

Everything that it was; the rhythm, the BBoys, the poetry and the music inspired me. The kind of style that Hip hop is. (MC Mawali)

2. How did your parents react when you first started out and what are their thoughts now?

My parents had no idea about what was going on. They had never even listened to such music. They now understand that this is rhythm and poetry and it is a type of art. They are happy and they support everything that I do. (MC Mawali)

3. How has the journey been so far? You’ve toured the country with your label and done some massive collaborations. Tell us a bit about it.

Yeah, it was my very first tour and it was amazing! Never experienced this kind of thing in my life. And with too many artists together performing is something different. (MC Maharya)

4. Why is it that you as a crew decided to talk about social issues?

In HipHop, rap music is a medium with which we can express our emotions. The emotion and the frustration of a common man is mostly never heard by the authorities because of the system where we live in. The social issues which we usually talk about needs a serious change and for that we need to change the mentality first, which we are trying through music and because it is what we all are going through! We have realized poetry can bring awareness to mankind. And we share and grow. (Joshua)

5. Do you think it is viable for you or any other artist to make ‘Political Hip-hop’ music in this country?

Is it viable? I don’t know if I can make money by making political music in Hip Hop but it is something that my heart goes out to. It’s something that doesn’t make me think about money at all. I don’t think that I need to write on a specific topic or do any commercial work. I could think about things like I won’t do work without money or do live performances but then while I am working with an artist and if he is in that zone and he likes to make this kind of music and even he connects with what is going in our country, it’s just about satisfying your soul. The end. That’s what I feel and that’s how I do it. This is how I write my music. I research about it because I am interested in everything that is happening. I feel for it as an artist and just keep writing and relating. (MC Tod Fod)

6. Has there been any opposition you have faced from the authorities directly or indirectly considering your music?

I haven’t faced any opposition by any authorities or anyone but I feel that that’s gonna happen soon because they are the majority and we are the minority and we think different and we can see that they are brainwashed. It’s not that far, the time is almost here and I am ready for it. Whatever it is, KHULLE NAAGDE like the EP we released. Jaisa hai waisa hi and yes we are ready for it. (MC Tod Fod)

7. As an artist who has been associated with both, how different do you think the Hip-hop scene is in Mumbai vs Delhi?
Transcribed :

Sahi lagta merko dono ki side ka sahi lagta Mumbai Delhi ka. Merko like Delhi ka full merko aisa enjoy scene lagta. Abhi sez bhai hai toh sawaal hi nahi matlab full enjoy enjoy karte unke beat aur matlab aisa nayya nayya sunne ko milta merko Delhi se. Aur mumbai mein merko like poora aisa indian hip hop scene mereko mumbai mein dekhne ko milta hai idhar kyunki har rapper apni own language mein baat karta hai aur apna style mein baat karta hai toh woh sunne mei nayya lagta hai matlab aisa pehle nahi suna rehta hai woh toh aisa sunte time mazza aata hai. Alag language mein alag uske flow mein aur unka jo instrument woh use karte hai toh aisa music wise aisa full roots waala mereko hip hop lagta hai aur delhi side mein merko full chill aur enjoy waala sahi lagta mereko mazza aata hai dono ki side ka sunke. (100RBH)

Translated :

I like the scene at Mumbai and Delhi, both. I feel that Delhi scene is more about enjoyment. Sez is also there and we get to listen to new stuff every time from Delhi. In Mumbai I get to see the whole Indian hip hop scene because here, every rapper talks in his/her own language and talks in their style so that’s something new to hear as that is not something that we’ve heard before. So it’s fun, listening to new languages, different flows and different instruments that they use. It reminds me of the roots of Hip Hop. Delhi side is more about chill music and I love both sides.  (100RBH)

8. If you could say anything to the youngsters or our current government, what would it be?

Mereko lagta ki, matlab humlog jaisa karte, ki full youth milkar government ko, aisa government ke against jaate. Par agar hum log unke aage jaakar, agar unke baare mein against kuch bolre, toh agar uska fayeda hota, toh merko lagta tabhi tak toh abhi kuch na kuch toh ho jaata tha. Lekin woh government nahi sudharne waali, toh iska matlab ye nahi ki woh government nahi sudhregi toh uska raasta hee nahi hai. Uska raasta hai, lekin uska raasta aisa hai ki hum log ko, jo youth log hai, hum log ko khud uss cheez mein utarna padega, woh cheez mein interest lena padega. Hum ko ye samajhna padega ki jo woh log ruling party hai ki samajh rahe hai ki woh sabke saamne bolte ruling party. To ruling waali woh raaj-waaj nahi kar sakte. Samjh rahe kya apne pe? Apan tags daalre ki woh apne naukar hai toh ye baat sabmein pehle dimaag mein samajh lena padenga. Aur youth ko toh main ye bataana chahunga ki jaise humaare poore India ko Bollywood ne pehle se aisa emotion kar diya hai toh ye log ko yeh log ke baatein mein aake emotional mat ho. Aur ye log jo bhi bolenge waisa woh suno par ye karne se pehle toh peh dimaag lagao ki sahi mein ye cheez sahi hai kya? Kyonki agar koi tumko dharam ke naam pe idhar udhar karra toh samajh lo jo dharam tumko maarne ki ijazat de woh dharam hee nahi hai. Aur jo log matlab abhi jaisa chaalu hain trending mai ‘Jai Shree Ram’ toh musalmaan ko maarunga lekin public ko ye baat dhyaan mai rakhna hai ki abhi tak Ram ne musalmaan ko haath nahi lagaaya toh tum kyon hede jaise helichaali kar rahe ho? Toh ye matlab samajhna chahiye public ko ki apne ko khub nacha raha hai aur itna sab hoke bhi fayeda kyon nahi ho raha hai. Toh ye sab public ko samajhna chahiye aur public ka youth public ko zyaada in cheezon mein interest lena chaiyye aur utarna chaiyye kyonki youth public ke paas bohoth saare naye visions rehte hai aur bohot saare ideas rehte hai toh ye buddho ke haath se abhi sabka ka dekhna chahiye toh thoda tum log bhi inn cheez mai interest lena chiyye. (100RBH)

Hear ‘Khulle Naagde’ below :

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