Arijit Sett a.k.a BC Azad hails from Park Circus, Kolkata where he grew up in a joint family living in his ancestral bungalow, around which one of Asia’s biggest slums had grown over the last two generations. So there was a boundary wall separating the life that he had grown up with from a contrasting form of livelihood existent just outside. “It presented itself as a bubble”, says Arijit, “A bubble that separated me from the world I lived in with the world I lived in.” Therefore, with his music Arijit seeks to break these barriers and create music that binds different people together, creating a sense of relatability. His stage name was born with the same idea- being ‘Azad’ from identities, certain tags that divided people based on caste, religion, or gender.
His debut album, ‘Naya Hindustan’ was a project he had been working on for the past four years and the album coalesced into a sort of representation of India becoming a nation of boundaries, and differences. Released in 2022 by Delhi-based hip-hop label AfterShock Records, the album seeks to be an opening for its listeners to experience the good, bad, and ugly by holding up a mirror and representing the different shades of the modern nation. The album voices shadows of cynicism but at the same time sheds a hopeful light on experiences. The artwork was illustrated by Improper Tv which elaborated on a vision of a certain view of the world- urban decay amalgamated with high-tech drones and robots along with nature seeking to overtake the concrete jungle. The character in the middle seems to hold out a metaphoric idea projecting power combined with imagery of an orange cape, white shirt, and green pants.
Although the entire album transcends into lyrical cynicism taking digs at the nation’s current events, let us pick out specific songs in particular that encapsulate the whole album. The intro track called ‘Naya Hindustan’ (Prod. by Joesjoint) represents real energy, inspiration, and hope throughout. The track invites its listeners to look out for the ever-changing dynamic of the country and also the unique representation of BC Azad in the hip-hop scene. The beat itself has an intense aura with voltaic bass, smooth guitar riffs, and groovy old-school-inspired drums. The cherry on top although seems to be the eccentric delivery of Azad combined with his heart-hitting lyrics. His next track, ‘Azadi Haram’ (Prod. by National Animal) is an oxymoron and a cynical representation of India. He sheds light on the fact that even though India boasts to be a free nation, many subsections of the society still go through everyday struggles to prove their loyalty towards the country. The beat is a Bollywood-inspired beat with bouncy trap-style drums and hard-hitting 808.
The third track is ‘Prithibi Chai’( Prod. by National Animal and Ft. Plastic Parvati which means “I want the world”. In this song, Azad and Plastic Parvati talk about their ambition on a hard-hitting dark trap beat. The song is rough and ready to connect to people. It is cynical in the sense that the lyrics portray a sense of loneliness- “I have no one, so I want the world.” In this sense, Azad is not afraid to show his vulnerability and aims to hint at a glimpse of hope through his music.
The fourth track, ‘Terms and Conditions’ (Prod. by EXCISE DEPT) is a hard edge derisive track that pushes the listener through the journey. Termed the “darkest song in the album”, it talks about the terms and conditions that come along with a person’s ascribed identity and how a piece of paper gets to decide a person’s future and stairs in our country. The song ignites a rebellious feeling among its listeners to break away from such labels and accept people as they are. Sonically, the track is a Bollywood sampled beat with a switch up from trap-style drums to a thumpy old-school groove.
The next track, ‘Aayega Kal’(Prod. by National Animal) is the switch-up from cynicism to hope. The track idealizes the concept that however bad things get, there will always be a better tomorrow. The truth might sometimes unfold to be depressing and dark but tomorrow always brings a ray of light with it. The song pushes its listeners to not give up and that every day brings with it a fresh start. Sonically, the track is backed by a trap beat with a synth melody, a thumpy kick with crispy snares, and a pulsing 808. The last track of the album, “Another Day” (Prod. by Ray3urn and Ft. Shrijita Thakur) steps away from the macro struggles of the nation and instead focuses on Azad’s struggles and his battle with certain internal blocks. He bravely opens up about his traumas and tries to live life day by day. The song is the most vulnerable in the entire album that touches on topics like mental health which the listener will be able to personally resonate with and hopefully find solace in. The song is a Ballad with an emotional piano melody and an old-school drum groove.
All the producers are listed as co-creators keeping in mind the collective upliftment and aspirations of all the artists and producers on the album. BC Azad strives to represent the “Naya Hindustan” by bringing in producers and artists from all over the country and blending sonics like never before. BC Azad takes us around an orbit of verity and soulful melodies. All in all the album seems to have taken quite a controversial stand when it comes to the quite eclectic lyricism or the name of the album itself. His tracks are imbued with a sense of socio-political satire along with bold ideas that seem to represent the ideologies of the youth of ‘modern’ India. I feel the emphatic rage and conceptualization of the entire vision of the album itself make the listening experience confounding.