‘Takiya Kalaam’, which stands for ‘something commonly said’ or a ‘catch phrase’ in Urdu, is the second EP by Mumbai-based rapper, writer and poet Yashraj. The 22-year-old power-packed performer and songwriter has made a great effort in making of ‘Takiya Kalaam’ and reflects on the common struggles of being an artist. The 5 track EP comes along with an intro and 2 interludes and the EP is produced by Dropped Out, Lambo Drive, Karonik and Akash Shravan.
The album opens with an intro by the title ‘Toh Kya Badla?’ where Yashraj transitions into his hard-hitting poetry style from a basic jazzy retro recital of his song. Here, I find him questioning his metamorphosis as a writer and emerge again with a haunting overdrop and command. The album begins here and we get to see Yashraj mingle with questions every artist has and the purpose art serves in one’s journey. Rishi Thakker who goes by the artist name Dropped Out accompanies as the producer for the first three tracks. The beats enliven the story while being mildly hooky and the rap verse is a statement of Yashraj’s grasp on art pop.
‘Naadani’ is the first track in the EP and resonates on a myriad topics with eye-opening lyrics and sounds that I find are gallant in nature. The lyrics are poetic and have a depth that is rare to find while retaining it’s originality. Yashraj seems to have a lot of Urdu poetry influence and is extremely skillful in articulating verses that are self-possessed. The 3-minute-long track takes us by surprise at multiple places and the beats pertain to the quality of what he has to say which is primarily a progressive statement on an artist’s inhibitions. ‘Naadani’ is followed by an interlude ‘Matlabi’ where the artist takes a narrative pause and digresses on the topic of friendship. Although the sounds used can be varied and the lyrics sometimes abstract, I get a general feeling that the artist has a lot to say and convey to his audience.
His second track ‘Musafir’ calmly begins with an innovative retro sample until the song elevates to a whole new level of pop. We can hear him pump his chest off in a battling rap in which he expresses his incessant urge to follow none but himself. ‘Musafir’ relates to the dire consequences of seeking individuality and the resilience one has to build to pursue their dreams. His diction is eloquent and the music is more than just appeasing. It is a burning desire to reflect on his journey. The songwriting can be brilliantly seen in the placement of phrases and the delivery is even more astounding which gives his songs a holistic sense rather than disjoint.
The album reaches its peak with the tracks ‘Mere Log’ and ‘Doob Raha’. While the former was produced by Lambo Drive and Karonik, the latter was produced by Akash Shravan who stays with him for the rest of the EP. ‘Mere Log’ is a brilliant hook and a recounting of his abilities as a rapper. The rage quite fervently emanates from his delivery and while it comments on the Indian society it also strangely enervates the issue and brings the audience into a consensus. Yashraj ensues us to his avant-garde style of composing with the following track ‘Doob Raha’ where he bravely employs double entendre to set himself as the industry standard. The art-laden dream-pop track is evocative of different eras and he uses it to express a common idea. In my view, the album revolves around the theme of doing what one wants without facing any resistance from external forces. Yashraj also remains humble partaking in such a bold venture by pondering on existential dialogues and reassessing his journey with the final track ‘Aatma’. The track is a spine-tingle and one can feel oneself letting a gasp as the EP concludes.
Yashraj takes us through a trajectory of art and meaning. He has the ability to reflect on any topic that catches his attention. He frequently reminisces on his inner world in relation to the external and uses his art form to bridge the connection. His tracks are tinged with an adequate amount of metaphysical curiosity and he contextualises it with the real world quite smoothly. When isolated from the music, the lyrics are inherently poetic and adept. At some places, the EP might feel disarrayed but the absurdity is proportionate enough to replicate real life and hence I feel the listening experience is inventive. ‘Takiya Kalam’ catches us by irresistible regard and thus stays true to its meaning and essence.