J Block is a Delhi-based collective that takes pride in being an amalgamation of different creatives- from artists to producers, videographers, and many more talented people from different walks of art. Initially started with the idea of providing a workspace for artists to work in the early stages of the Covid crisis, J Block soon transformed into an independent ecosystem. Faizan, a producer, and recording artist stated “J Block is a safe space, a home for not just making music but also helping one another achieve their vision and creating an experience.”
Their newest mixtape “Kho Kho” has 11 tracks on their tracklist and has taken the spotlight by featuring 11 artists from all over the country. The mixtape was also a debut for two new recording artists- Kofi Kofi and dr chaand whose addition made the mixtape vastly superior and distinct. Produced by Yung Satya, Faichan, and Circle Tone, the mixtape infuses Hip-Hop with Indian Folk melodies. The 40 min long project was created in two days when all the members were able to come together and get creative. The mixtape was not planned but was a clear cohesiveness among the artists that pushed the artists to create magic. Circle Tone, one of the producer states, “For some members, it was about getting rid of their creative block, for some, it was the hunger to try something new, while some continued to explore and expand their creativity.” It was the different visions and the culturally diverse background of the artists that heavily shaped the multifaceted mixtape.
The mixtape celebrates the multiplicity of sounds and insights from the recording artists, where every song is complimented by handsomely blended sonics. The mixtape is a love-child of modern international sonics like drill and grime music, authentic minimalist production and South Indian music industry, and Indian folk music. The tracks have a taste of thumpy 808s and off-beat claps with a touch of Bollywood assonance to them. “Kho Kho” is one of a kind, lyrically heavy mixtape in India that holistically combines various genres together. On the production side, the shared cohesiveness of the producers, their versatility in trying different sonics, perfectly processing, and layering the vocals made the mixtape more authentic. The recording artists set the par with hard-hitting lyrics, on-the-point flow, and exemplary delivery.
From talking about life philosophies to talking about greed for more money and even LGBTQ+ love stories Every track in the mixtape has its unique story to it which its poignant lyricism can unfold. Tracks like ‘7 Peti’(ft. Adam Bo, Lil Kabeer, Kofi Kofi, Zinda Battery, AKX, Lonekat and Produced by Yung Satya & Noran Beatz) are heavily influenced by modern Hip-hop drill beats and talk about living a comfortable life, hustling harder to get that bag and booking more shows.
The mixtape’s cover art is a last-minute addition drawn by Draw with Dard and is a beautiful illustration of all the artists and producers in the mixtape standing side-by-side with their heads held up high. The name of the mixtape is also quite interesting. Lil Kabeer, one of the recording artists states, “The entire mixtape happened in a blink of an eye, the rush in two days was unimaginable but also beautiful. We would take turns recording our verses and working on the beats and the flow, while two people working on a project, the remaining would get some rest, you know just like in the game of Kho Kho where we have two active participants running, while the others are sitting down and guiding the other two players.” It was this meteoric recording process that inspired the name “Kho Kho”.
On the other hand songs like ‘Sawariya’ (ft. Faizan, Kofi Kofi, AKX, and Zinda Battery and Produced by Yung Satya & Faichan) and ‘Dil’ (ft. Siddhant and Produced by Faichan & Yung Satya) are inspired by traditional folk songs and the local ambient melodies. They both focus on the essence of love- finding and losing oneself in love. The vocal delivery and finely processed layers of instrumentals make these songs one of a kind “folk-pop songs”. Tracks like ‘Apprentice’ ( ft. Lonekat, Lil Kabeer and Produced by Yung Satya) is a sweet sampled melody which although has no drums is complimented with the flow of the recording artists, this track has allowed the two recording artists to speak their hearts out, becoming vulnerable and human. The tracklist also has songs like ‘Aakash’(ft. AKX, Faizan, Lil Kabeer, Zinda Battery and Produced by Faichan) is an Alternative chill trap song with a catchy melody and a spacey vibe to it that you’d listen to while vibing alone.
The mixtape is an outcome of an electrifying dynamic between the people involved in the project. With their aim being to create feel-good and relatable music rather than blindly following the trend, J Block strives to creatively push each other to try out things that have not been explored yet.
“Kho Kho is near to our hearts due to the amount of fun and memories we created while making the mixtape. We almost got evicted from the house for creating a ruckus! But that is what J-block is- creativity, a sense of belonging, and unstoppable laughter!”- J Block collective.