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New Strides: Brodha V’s ‘Aaraam’ and Prabh Deep’s ‘Ateet,’ ‘Tabia’ Showcase Unhindered Exploration

The latest releases from the Bengaluru rapper and the New Delhi-based Punjabi singer-producer offer a refreshing insight into hip-hop’s evolution in India

Anurag Tagat Mar 03, 2021

New Delhi artist Prabh Deep and Bengaluru rapper-producer Brodha V. Photos: Courtesy of the artists

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Over the last two weeks, new hype arrived for Brodha V and Prabh Deep in hip-hop circles in the country. The jovial yet conviction-heavy seasoned rapper from Bengaluru dropped his latest track “Aaraam,” while the Punjabi artist released a song called “Ateet,” quickly announcing the release of his second album Tabia on March 4th.

Any way you look at it, Brodha V and Prabh Deep are in leagues of their own and dominating – Brodha has always played the singles game and accrued millions of views for material that leans into his Tamil and Kannada city boy identity and Prabh Deep has moved beyond the origin stories of Class-Sikh (2017) to wavy, determined narratives while still being something of an underdog in the stratospheric Punjabi music space.

What they do share in common, however, is their producing prowess and evolution that has led them to this point as musicians, never shying away from changing their narratives or aesthetic. While their pursuits might be led by different elements, like a lot of top-tier artists in the country right now, they influence the creation of new movements in hip-hop. With almost set guarantees that their music draws in millions of listeners, the likes and views gives them confidence to the point that the output we hear (and see) right now is rooted in pure creative explorations.

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In Brodha V’s case, “Aaraam” takes the Atlanta-grade busyness – complete with “skrrt-skrrt” – and plugs it into his usual half-joking, half-wise bars about the competition around him. It’s that familiar flow we’ve heard on his previous single “Flex,” for which Brodha V fashioned beats out of seemingly Punjabi dhol rhythms. On “Aaraam” and it’s Kannada hook, though, he shines a light on something much more serious – indifference, apathy and complacency. Of course he’s got his own story taking centerstage, but Brodha V’s verses come across as helpful advice stemming from personal experience, while also addressing where he’s at in his career and life.

It’s not so much coming of age as it is taking stock of current standings. Prabh Deep’s lo-fi, swirling chill-hop tune “Ateet” leans more into ideas of growing up and keeping your affairs in order, even if it means turning down big figures. A description provided with the track notes that the song finds the producer-vocalist “lost yet determined and full of self-belief” towards his “final goal” of being a “messenger of truth for those that have lost their way.” As the synths turn rubbery and sinister towards the second half of the song, we hear a familiar Prabh Deep one could recognize from “Amar”; nihilistic, tortured but persevering.

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The song predates material that is now his just-released full-length album Tabia. A 15-track offering which envelopes the listener in a hazy, shape shifting journey, these releases are telling of just how the mainstays in Indian hip-hop are evolving.

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