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“I create conscious rap and political tracks” – In Conversation with ThirumaLI

Hailing from Kottayam, Kerala, ThirumaLi is Malayali rapper and songwriter who started making music in the early 20s. He started his professional solo career in 2018 pioneering the Malayalam Hip hop Industry. The artist played a significant role in introducing Malayalam Hip hop among the Malayali community with his debut hit “Malayali Da,” marking the onset of Malayalam rap. He is currently best known for his successful singles, “Sambar”, “Naadan Vibe”, adding more to the list. He is widely recognized for his profound lyrics and narratives behind each track. In a conversation with us, the artist talks about his journey so far.

1. Tell us a bit about your project. How did you begin your journey as a singer-songwriter?

Back in high school, I started listening to musicians like Michael Jackson. Eventually, I leaned toward hip-hop because I was drawn to its lyrical value. I initially started rapping in English, but it felt tricky, so I decided to rap in the language I’m most comfortable with: Malayalam. I’ve always loved listening to Eminem, and he was a big influence on me. I started rapping years ago, and my track “Malayali Da” was my first big hit—it changed my career forever. I didn’t have any musical roots, faced financial struggles, and it was a rocky journey. But I believe that when something is meant to happen, it will, and it did for me.

“Thericho” is a project that Jay Stellar and I have been working on for a long time, and it’s finally out now, released through Mass Appeal India. This track is made specifically for live shows to bring the heat. It has a theme centred around violence and brutal fights, and the music video reflects this with a punk style and club fight scenes.

2. Which bands/artists were your first love and who is your biggest influence?

My favourite artist is Michael Jackson. He was my introduction to Western music and had a huge impact on me. Later, I got into hip-hop and fell in love with rapping. Eminem became a major influence when I started exploring hip-hop. Albums like “The Marshall Mathers LP,” “Recovery,” and “The Slim Shady LP” really shaped my taste and inspired me to dive deeper into the hip-hop world.

3. Tell us a bit about your latest release ‘Thericho.’ 

“Thericho” is my new track produced by Jay Stellar, blending hip-hop and EDM with inspiration from Kanye West’s production style. The theme of the song is intense, serving as a warning to a thug about the violence and brutal death he faces if he doesn’t run away. The music video captures the track’s energy with a punk aesthetic, inspired by the style of Fight Club, featuring gripping visuals of brutal fights and violence. “Thericho” stands out with its unique, high-energy sounds, making it perfect for live show experiences. The track was released via Mass Appeal India.

4. What is your music-making and recording process like?

My music usually happens to be with producers like Jay Stellar or ThudWiser most of the time. When we sit down together, I often start by saying, “Hey, let’s do a track like this,” and share some references. They deliver a beat almost immediately. I then start working on the lyrics with the beat. If we both love the work and believe it has the potential to be a hit, we develop the track further.

This process isn’t quick. For example, the producer might give me a beat today, but it could be a month before I sit down to write the lyrics for it. Once we’re happy with the lyrics and the beat, it might take us a couple of weeks to get into the recording sessions. Mixing and mastering can take another three months or more. It’s a lengthy process, but we only release a track when we’re completely satisfied with it.

5. Why do you make music? What drives you as a musician and what are your songs about?

I started making music when Malayalam rap was not introduced in Kerala. My goal was to introduce Malayalam rap to the people here and get them to listen to something new. Today, I’m moving forward as a successful musician thanks to the support of my fans, the artists who are inspired by me, and the people who love my releases. This support is what drives my music career and keeps me moving forward.

My tracks cover a wide range of themes, including entertainment, politics, and more. I never stick to a single style or theme because I love exploring different styles—that’s my identity: being versatile. Some songs are just about fun, while others, like “Thericho,” are based on themes of violence. I also create conscious rap and political tracks. My music is all about diversity and exploring new ideas.

6. Which Indian bands or artists do you admire? And why?

I don’t have a long list of Indian bands or artists that I listen to, but I’m definitely a fan of A R Rahman. From my hometown, I enjoy listening to bands like Oorali, Thakara, Avial, and Thaikkudam Bridge. I love their music, but most of my influences come from US artists.

7. What’s your take on the independent music scene in India?

The independent music scene is growing rapidly. Compared to 5 or even 2 years ago, it’s expanded significantly. While there’s still a high demand for artists who sing for movies, the past 1-2 years have seen a big shift. Independent musicians are now getting great opportunities and starting to be recognized on the same level as movie singers.

However, the independent music scene isn’t fully established yet. It’s still in the growth phase and might take a couple more years to be completely solid. As more artists focus on being independent, we’ll see a strong independent music culture develop. Movie singers are still given priority, but I’m confident that independent artists will eventually be seen in the same light. That change is coming soon.

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