The very definition of ‘Alternative Hip-Hop’ lies in the pursuit of being unique, instead of just catering to an audience with what they enjoy. While having an audience, or a fanbase for that matter, could be the most important thing for an artist to strive and succeed, some eccentric ones would rather choose their authenticity as creators. shauharty and pakeezah happen to be two of such handful of artists in the community who always try to come up with new sounds and perspectives. Whilst being in the otherwise market of so-called-rappers who keep pleasing their audiences with corny bars and the same old bouncy beats, the duo’s endeavor to curate something special and different from their previous works is commendable. Released on the 28th of October, ‘Paint It, Dull’ by the Delhi-based underground artist shauharty and the Mumbai-based producer pakeezah is their debut EP consisting of six tracks. In contrast to shauharty’s debut project ‘Madheera’, which was an immediate favorite of many who enjoy the sub-genre, ‘Paint It, Dull’ has more features that add different narratives contributing to the essence of the EP.
“The whole point of this is to you know, be of excellence”– shauharty (Live at the Cold Brewery)
The title ‘Paint It, Dull’ takes its inspiration from The Rolling Stones’ most played track ‘Paint It, Black’. The soundscape of the EP features a fusion of desi cultural references and 70s and 80s rock. The EP starts with an interpolation of the classic track ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ by The Rolling Stones, the influence of the rock genre on this project can be seen throughout the tracks except ‘Angithiyaan’. The longest track in the play ‘Painted Dull (The Thousand-Yard Stare)’ is one of my favorites. ‘The Thousand-Yard Stare’, something that has unfortunately become a meme or a reaction recently, is actually referred to as the dissociated look of trauma victims. The track is melancholic in the truest sense of the word, the music is perfect as it directs your consciousness into the heartfelt and gloomy setting the track presents. shauharty’s verse is one of the best in the project, he presents an introspective writing and his delivery perfectly matches with the tone of the track. Rounak Maiti’s hook further adds to the theme and offers a newer perspective to it. One certain aspect that I didn’t enjoy was the bridge between the hook and Lit Trust’s upcoming verse, it feels a bit forced and might disconnect a listener from the dreary realm they find themselves in. However, Lit Trust’s verse that follows is the best guest feature verse in the EP for me. He perfectly connects with the idea of the track and offers his own introspective thoughts on it. ‘Angithiyaan’ is another track that I would prefer to mention as it does not sound like the other songs of the EP. Being the last track of the emotive project, it lifts the feelings of a listener and presents a laid-back and chill sound to conclude the message. Instruments such as the electric guitar pieces and horns along with the easy-going drums offer a very quirky yet relaxing soundscape. shauhar comfortably flows on the beat as he talks about own personality through clever writing and his matchless rhyme schemes.
I feel the main takeaway of ‘Paint It, Dull’ is its soundscape. It is very melancholic and the theme of the whole EP is perfectly presented through the sonics it has. pakeezah emerges as a sonic storyteller rather than a mere producer, this EP sets a benchmark in the genre as to how exemplary one’s curation can be. Being the musician he is, I firmly believe that pakeezah should receive his flowers as he has evidently outdone himself. Another aspect would be the features the EP has, it almost feels as if every single artist has been chosen and placed very meticulously to further complement the project. shauharty’s flow is truly unrivaled, one might not care about the lyrics for a while and still enjoy the way he raps. His lyricism, references about different literature pieces, art, and history alongside his different rhyme schemes are a major influence on the idiosyncratic essence of the EP. To conclude, ‘Paint It, Dull’ might be one of the best EPs to come out this year, while one can easily complain of its different sound and approach and might not like it in the initial few listens, the project promises novelty and a state-of-the-art soundscape.