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Chabuk on the ‘Assertive Masti’ of ‘Downmarket’ EP

The Mumbai rap-rock band’s frontman Tanmay Bahulekar aka Microphon3 on their debut EP, which released last week

Anurag Tagat Jul 08, 2019

Mumbai rap-rock band Chabuk. Photo: Osbert Pinto

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When they released their first single “Shahenshah” in January last year, Mumbai rap-rock band Chabuk had a groovy edge with an aggro hook. But more importantly, vocalist Tanmay Bahulekar aka Microphone3 was especially acerbic and witty in taking down wannabe rappers. He says it wasn’t about anyone in specific, though.

The vocalist says, “We’re not here to make angry music. Our tone is not, ‘Fuck this, fuck that – it’s more about playing with words and anybody who hears it might get a chuckle out of it and yet make them think.” On their debut EP Downmarket, there’s four tracks that bring together what Bahulekar terms as “assertive masti” through riffs, rhythm and poetry. Created by Bahulekar, guitarist Michael Lee (from erstwhile rockers Aftertaste), drummer Devanshu Sampat and bassist Roop Thomas (part of pop artist Arunaja’s band and previously of alt rockers Blakc), Chabuk is the rapper’s third or fourth attempt (he’s lost count) at putting a band together. Even now, Lee has left the band, with guitarist Raja Pradhan stepping in for the next gig.

With Chabuk, the rapper has opened up more to rock and says it’s been a learning process “about what can happen and where we can go” along the way to put verses written years ago to music and then also writing new rhymes. He adds, “The sound we have right now, we believe it’s something fresh.”

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Recorded, mixed and mastered by Mumbai-based Sheldon Dixon (formerly of hard rock band Overhung) at his Rockcage Studios, Downmarket is moody music with an emphasis on storytelling – whether it’s the hard hitting “Kaun Hip-Hop” (which got a video release), or the fascinating jam that’s “Pyaar.” Bahulekar says about the latter, “The first verse is non-fiction and the second verse is all fiction. When I met the band, I had the first verse and then we worked on the second verse.”

For the most part, Chabuk is about making music that stems from a middle class upbringing the entire outfit has, according to Bahulekar. He adds, “Does it fit with the current scheme of what’s going on in hip-hop? Don’t know and I don’t really think about it. We’re not making music just for the ‘scene.’ We want our listener base to be completely different – let new people listen to it. It’s beyond genres. ‘Hum keh kya rahe hain sun lo (listen to what we’re saying) and groove a little bit.’ That’s the intent of it.”

The EP gets a launch on July 13th alongside electro-rock act FuzzCulture’s own launch show for their new album Escape To Where You’re Wanted. With Sampat traveling, Dixon is stepping in behind the drumkit for this one. Bahulekar promises two more videos for “Pyaar” and the title track coming up.

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Chabuk and FuzzCulture perform at Above the Habitat, Mumbai on July 13th. Event details here. Watch the video for “Kaun Hip-Hop” below. Stream ‘Downmarket’ EP on Apple Music and JioSaavn.

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