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MTV Breakout Srushti Tawade Casts The Net Wide With Her Single, “Breadcrumbs”

Hip-hop in India has had its own breakout moment as a genre in this country over the past few years. The escalation has been sudden and steep, with the Indian masses taking to the musical style, as well as the cultural elements surrounding the music itself, faster than most other mainstream genres have had the good fortune to experience. The burgeoning of independent rappers and Bollywood rap hits have enjoyed parallel eyelines, one sometimes feeding off of the other. This created, inversely, the need for different modes of supply, because the demand and the product seemed to emerge from the same pool of creators and consumers. Enter an opportunity like MTV Hustle, a rap music reality competition show, where aspiring wordsmiths from all over the country (for the most part) compete for the chance to kick-start their fantasy rap life. The show acts as sort of a springboard in today’s media landscape, where the number of people watching clips from last night’s episode on Instagram would be comfortably quadruply higher than the number of people watching the broadcast. This allows for the competitors to hone their performances for replay value, where someone could benefit from the velocity of jumping higher than their peers. Srushti Tawade was one who made a habit of jumping and landing on her feet with finesse on the second season of the show.

From the very beginning of her performances on the show, it was clear that Tawade was going to employ a more comedic hand than the tried-and-true bravado that rap music in India seems to attract. Her lyrical prowess showcased her comfort with tackling specific themes and topics (from cheeky digs at nonchalant guys to her apparent inability to conjure up a sincere honest-to-God rap “diss”), and her charismatic flows (plural) sketched characters with their own distinct personalities, all in under 3 minutes. A bona fide star-in-the-making for the Age of Social Media.

“Breadcrumbs” is her debut outing as a solo recording artist, together with the good people over at Warner Music India, who also distribute the work of other mega hitmakers such as KING and Prateek Kuhad. A seven-track clocking in at a brisk 17 minutes, it presents an uber-polished Tawade, primed and ready to be launched into a music industry that functions as a well-oiled machine for hits.

The album begins with “808” and “Ghummi Ghummi”, safely two of the most stylised sonic outings on the project in terms of production, and maybe two of the most sparse in terms of her signature lyricism. The latter has thinly-veiled nods to old-school Nicki Minaj in her flow and delivery, which remains impressive on the more rap-centric tracks on the album. Both the openers rely heavily on the hooks rather than Tawade’s pen, substituting double entendres for vocal treatments and chopped up samples. The project then takes a tonal detour for the next three tracks, where Tawade begins to explore the narrative of a failed relationship through the rest of the runtime. The narrative goes on to be viewed from a prismatic lens of sorts, with the next five tracks employing shifts in genre to morph into what the plot requires. “Meri Jaan” is a quirky love song which features little to no rapping from the artist, that would be right at home in a classic Hindi romantic setting. This seems to be by design going by the music video Tawade dropped as an accompaniment, where she and her paramour recreate iconic moments from films such as Jab We Met and Om Shanti Om, among others. “Dahi Shakkar” straddles sadness and optimism, attempting a more mature approach to a break-up, which once again, employs solely the artist’s singing voice to relay the message. “Rasiya” follows, as a look into the well of insecurities in the relationship, concerning other parties. The song and the video employ the darkest tone on the entire album, with a conscious choice to sing rather than rap in the style she is best known for. The poppy “Breakfast Over Bae” breaks through the gloom of the previous track, making a ball out of eating your feelings after a break-up – a “fries before guys” meme in a song (with a bright, lush video to match). The project ends with closure from the break-up narrative with “Ishq Mazaak” – the only feature on the album in the form of her frequent collaborator Charan. Tawade returns to her lyrical rap roots on the closer, with a categorically Punjabi-influenced beat structure and hook, where her thinly-veiled influences once again materialise in a noticeable Cardi B low, staccato flow.

Srushti Tawade’s rise and popularity were propelled by her raw writing talents and hungry delivery on a competition show where she needed to stand out. On “Breadcrumbs”, she is a comfortable professional musician, experimenting with sound, vocal styles and genre – all at the same time. She needed to put forth a concrete, fully-formed competitor for the television cameras to take notice. Now that we’re tuned in, she is free to figure out the artist that she wants to be. And she seems to be taking all the detours she wants to.

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