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Exclusive Premiere: Hyderabad Hip-Hop/Reggae Duo Thugs Unit Go Hard on ‘Atishbazi’

The new song is off the pair’s forthcoming 12-track album ‘Resurrection 040’

David Britto Oct 18, 2020

Hyderabad hip-hop duo Thugs Unit. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

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Over a decade ago, Hyderabad hip-hop artist Mo Boucher aka Mudassir Ahmed would perform at events called Thugs Unit organized by fellow rapper Irish Boi aka Syed Irshad. The pair eventually struck up a friendship and formed a duo, which they named Thugs Unit. After dropping mixtapes between 2008 to 2012 as well as a few singles in 2013, the following year the duo went hiatus due to personal reasons, and are now returning after a six-year spell out of the game. “We realized we need to get back into the scene with the boom-bap sound,” says Mo Boucher.

Thugs Unit’s comeback vehicle — the 12-track album Resurrection 040 — juxtaposes Urdu and Sufi hip-hop with heavy beats and reggae influences. However, before the album comes out next month, the duo is teasing it with their hard-hitting lead single “Atishbazi” exclusively on Rolling Stone India.

“The word ‘atishbaz’ means the one who plays with fire and the ‘atishbazi’ literally means fireworks. We have used the word metaphorically to symbolize verbal fireworks,” says Mo Boucher. The track was penned out of frustration of being an Indian citizen and witnessing bad politics, spreading of hate and living without empathy. Mo Boucher adds, “The pillars of democracy are compromised on a daily basis when we have corrupt leaders in charge. There are good people in the establishment as well, but this song is taking a shot on the corruption of the system.”

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On Resurrection 040 (the title is inspired by Thugs Unit’s return and Hyderabad’s telephone code), they explore themes of spirituality and self-reflection, address the establishment, narrate their perspective of the country’s hip-hop scene and also love. Mo Boucher says, “One main reason we stopped making music after 2014 was because of my pursuit of spirituality. I have had the privilege to sit at the feet of a Sufi spiritual master and learn the discipline of reflection and meditation. These songs reflect my realizations and experiences of the pursuit of truth.”

Watch the lyric video for “Atishbazi” below:

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