The Bildungsroman Of Albums- Prabh Deep’s Sophomore LP ‘Tabia’

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India is currently in the midst of a musical revolution. Indian independent music is breaking onto the world stage and at the centre of it all is desi hip-hop. Artists have studied and absorbed the music styles of the west and have reinvented them in their own ways. As a consequence, there has been an emergence of various hip-hop artists who have gained popularity amongst the Indian audience. While there maybe many artists who are playing the game right, there are only a few who are trying to change it altogether. With Tabia’s release, Prabh Deep is unquestionably one of them.

On his sophomore full length album, 15 tracks spanning a total of 55 minutes, Prabh Deep reinvents his style yet again. From hard-styled hip-hop on his debut album Class Sikh, to the calmer and more fluid K.I.N.G EP, Prabh Deep constructs an enigmatic wonderland of sounds on Tabia. It is a concept driven album exploring themes of multiplicities within oneself, the battle between the material temptations and one’s soul and the complex and necessary monologue that stems from accepting and confronting one’s demons in a bid to find true happiness.

The making of the album started in July 2019 when Prabh Deep visited Karma Studios, Thailand. He has composed/produced 6 tracks himself, co-produced another 4 while the album lead single ‘Waqaf’ is the culmination of the intense emotional and psychological journey undertaken by Prabh over the course of the album’s narrative arc. About the album, he comments “Tabia represents the journey I undertook in order to answer these questions for myself. I was lost and my warped understanding of what happiness is, and how it could be achieved, led me to chase, conquer and control the different elements that dominated my life – wealth, love and power. This album is a journal documenting my descent into madness – about how I was consumed by the
temptations that were offered to me by the world outside. These temptations can kill you. I’m worthless to the world if I’m dead. A dead man can’t live again – this line is important. You’ll find this lyric at the centre of the narrative thread that guides the
album. No matter how much success I had in terms of achieving the control I chased, I always wanted more.”

Tabia refers to chess moves made by a person. In this case, it represents the moves made by Prabh Deep in his quest to become a person who is at peace with himself and the world around him. The first half of the album follows a Prabh who is seeking to gain control of his life and career by chasing the material and superficial things that he thinks made others happy. The album details how the decisions one makes in life sets them on a path that ends up becoming their destiny. Free will, which is the right of every individual born in this world, often leads individuals to make impulsive decisions without considering their future. However, an individual’s personality always shines through, and through all their trials, tribulations and mistakes, the fabric of their core being is what details the path that they’re on. By the time we reach the narrative arc’s crux, we see the change that is occurring in Prabh’s thinking. He is slowly realising that what he seeks is not available in the world outside and that no matter of material success will ever truly make him happy. The second half details the journey Prabh undertakes to confront his inner-demons and come to the realisation about how the world truly works. By the time Tabia concludes, we come to see a Prabh
that is self-actualised and at peace with himself, and one that has made it his mission to enlighten as many people as he can through his artistic calling.

Tabia is an album worth exploring with repeated listens. Prabh Deep pens down not only heartfelt, personal lyrics but catchy hooklines on this release. Prabh Deep’s want to make something different translates into the soundscape of the album as well where we hear elements of Jazz, RnB, Jungle and even breakbeat, on it. The album is actually similar to a book which reveals it’s magic through tiny, carefully placed details, where the reader is immersed fully in the experience. In literary circles, a Bildungsroman is a novel which deals with one person’s formative years or spiritual education. This album is Prabh Deep’s buildungsroman, one which will carry him into Indian hip-hop’s formidable names for years to come.