The MVMNT, a hip hop collective and record label started by producer Sez on the Beat and music executive Faizan Khan has been the talk of the hip hop community this year with numerous quality releases. The very first single under this banner, GOONJ comprises hard-hitting verses by rappers Enkore, Rebel7, The Siege, Yungsta and Smoke. This was followed by Kahaani 2020 which was, in contrast, a more melodic and feel-good track consisting rappers Enkore, Yungsta and Lit Happu, rapper/singer Shayan Roy and producer Zaeden.
Sez has been instrumental in shaping the sound of the new age Indian hip hop, be it his contribution to Mere Gully Mein which transcended through the underground Mumbai hip hop space into the mainstream, or his collaboration with new school Delhi artists like Seedhe Maut, Prabh Deep or Rebel7 which created the vibrant hip hop sound that we associate the Delhi scene with.
After parting ways with Delhi Based Label Azadi Records, Sez in partnership with Faizan Khan eventually formed The MVMNT. Their idea was to create a channel which aims to push and continuously help evolve the Indian hip hop scene. The MVMNT’s and Sez on the Beat’s very first EP – New Kids On The Block, Volume 1 does just that, backed with Sez’s dynamic trap beats , we get to listen to the fresh perspective of 5 budding rappers – Lit Happu, DRV, Rawal, No Nation and Luck. Artists using autotune for their verses usually get a bad reputation for not sounding like their genuine self in tracks, however it’s important to differentiate artists who use autotune to make up for their average delivery and artists who use this texture to complement their voice and to make it sound more sonically pleasing. Before we get on with track reviews, we need to talk about what Trap music means as much of the EP has a ceaseless trap music feel. To put it simply it is a sub genre of Hip Hop with influences from dance music and EDM. While trap is a type of rap music, it is contextually different and musically faster paced and more upbeat than your usual rap sound. If you happen to listen to modern American hip hop – think the likes of Post Malone, Gucci Mane, Future or The Migos, these guys are the popular trappers of contemporary hip hop. Now, coming back to this project, NKOTB too radiates a lot of trap like energy in the production and also via the cadences used by the artists. Trap is not very popular in the Indian hip hop sphere, which is why Sez wished to showcase this sound through this group of artists who bring in this new flavor.
The first track is Ki Honda by Lit Happu. The rapper has already collaborated with Sez on his debut EP Issa Vibe. His style of rapping is varied often engaging in a chopper type flow and also vocalizing on some of his verses. On Ki Honda, we listen to Happu deal with the dichotomy that many up and coming rappers are experiencing today, of getting reasonable fame and money from all the hype but never enough to fully sustain themselves and having to take loans to keep funding their dreams, a reality of the struggle of a full-time artist in this new wave of hip hop music. Sez’s production complements Happu’s auto-tuned laden flow making it an immersive intro.
This is followed by Cheesecake by New Delhi trapper DRV. The flute sample on the beat is exquisite and DRV’s delivery and commentary on the growing trap scene in Delhi says a lot about his artistry, his growth and overall sound of the album. Through lyrics like “New Wave nahi hai ye tees ke”, and “Autotune rap ko jo kehte hai wack, ab autotune rap ki karte rees ye” DRV takes shots at the so-called hip hop elitists who refuse to acknowledge trap as an equally legitimate genre of hip hop.
Next up is 619 by Rawal. This rapper is quite different from the roster of artists on this project. His trademark is his infectious flow and comedic punchlines like “tera gaana jhatepar, flow apna crazy hai Nana patekar” referring to Indian actor Nana Patekar. Another line – “Circle hai tight aur bande hai asal, MTV nahi naap sakta apna hustle” is a jab at popular rap talent show hosted by MTV earlier in 2019. Rawal has a lot potential to bring in an opposing aura to the seemingly conservative rap scene.
Track number 4 is Gas Pe by No Nation. Still encompassing the overall trap feel on the production and NoNation’s delivery, the rapper switches up his flow as the beat progresses and his lyrical skill would definitely be noticed by any rap music admirer on giving this a listen.
NKOTB Volume 1 concludes with Bhilwara, Rajasthan based trap artist Luck’s Thara Moves. This track is a great choice for an outro and a piece of very wavy mood music in itself. Luck is vocally graceful, and brings punchy rhymes that flow brilliantly on beat and Sez is able to encapsulate this newly cooked concept of fusion trap and brings it to life through this.
This EP launches a new sound to the ever-growing hip hop landscape in Northern India. With impressive repeatability factor to all the tracks, and youthful energy of the rappers showcased, NKOTB Vol1 becomes a credible source of introduction to North Indian Fusion Trap music and leaves us waiting for more on the second volume.