Aakash Delivers a Cutting-Edge Debut Hip-Hop LP ‘Over Seas’
The 16-track record features some of the finest rappers from Mumbai
When you tune into multi-instrumentalist/producer and Emmy Award winner Aakash Ravikrishnan’s debut 16-track hip-hop album Over Seas, it’s different in terms of the beats, flow, arrangements and production than anything else that has come out of India. That’s mainly due to the fact that Aakash – who goes by his first name – has absorbed skill from metal, pop, jazz, rock, hip-hop and more while growing up in Kuwait and studying Sound for the Performing Arts at Purdue University, Indiana in the U.S.
Aakash says, “Having music constantly being played in the house since before I was born, I think I automatically had an innate connection and relationship with it.” While Stateside, Aakash also picked up an Emmy for being part of the audio team that worked on the musical Finding Home: Indiana at 200. Since then, the producer moved to Mumbai last year and after watching the Bollywood film Gully Boy, he was impressed with the raw energy of the country’s hip-hop sound but felt the beats were dated. He says, “It was more old school and ‘real hip-hop’ influenced as opposed to modern-day L.A., Atlanta, Chicago hip-hop.” That’s when Aakash began to reach out to Mumbai rappers via Instagram to work on new music.
The producer’s first collaborator was MC Altaf. Aakash says, “He had checked out my music and came over to my home studio for a recording session with D’Evil. We skimmed through a bunch of beats but ended up choosing one I had made earlier in the day. It ended up being ‘Wazan Hai.’” That was was the spark that led to Aakash making Over Seas, an album featuring, “some of the best hip-hop artists in Mumbai, in order to provide a fresh 2019/2020 sound that is super relevant and promotes Indian hip-hop on a world stage.”
Apart from MC Altaf, the spellbinding Over Seas also features artists such as Sahir, Bombay Lokal, Dopeadelicz, Ace, Mumbai’s Finest, D’Evil, Illah, Dee MC and more. Ask Aakash about the tracks on the record and he humbly says, “I don’t really know Hindi as I never spoke the language growing up. So I didn’t really know what anyone was saying until after we’d recorded the tunes and I’d asked them what their verses meant.”
You end up staying focused throughout the album, as each track flows flawlessly into the next with the right amount of dynamics and delivery. The easy on the ear opening song “Khamakha” featuring Sahir “is dope because it’s got this Nick Mira/Internet Money Records sound and Sahir does a great job of telling a deep story melodically using a combination of Hindi and Urdu words.” Track three, “Bounce,” is as the name suggests and features Dopeadelicz. Aakash says, “It is crazy because of the simple nature of the song. It was my first time ever in Dharavi in the middle of Mumbai’s scorching summer and I had made the beat using a tiny Bluetooth speaker and laptop keys.”
The penultimate track on the record is the saccharine punk rock meets hip-hop banger “Udh Chale” which features Sid J and Bonz N Ribz. Aakash says, “[It] gets to me every time because of its uplifting, positive notion… and because it’s got a great pop-punk Blink 182 element infused with the heavy 2019 hip-hop beats.” He adds, “Sid J and Bonz N Ribz really portray a youthful energy that I hope will resonate with young Indian college and high school kids.”
Ask the producer what he hopes people take away from this innovative record and he says, “I hope that musicians and producers are inspired by the musicality that went into each song of the album. Throughout the record I played elements of jazz, R&B, classical guitar, folk, bossa nova.” For non-musicians, he says, “The album appeals to audiences outside of hip-hop too because of the complex chords and progressions that laces the record’s beats. So I’m hoping for a lot of people to connect to the music, regardless of their favorite genres.”
Over Seas was recorded at Aakash’s home studio in Mumbai as well as mixed and mastered by him. The producer also has a bunch of music videos in the pipeline as well as a gig featuring all the artists on the LP. Next, Aakash wants to work on an acoustic folk record with Indian artists and will also be supporting Mumbai singer-songwriter Arunaja on keys at Bacardi NH7 Weekender in Pune later this year. Aakash says, “I also have a jazz hip-hop EP called Homecoming ready to drop for when I eventually leave for the U.S.”