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Hanumankind and Kalmi Swim Against the Tide on New Mixtape ‘Surface Level’

The Bengaluru-based hip-hop artist and Hyderabad-based producer team up yet again for four tracks that tackle creative blocks

Anurag Tagat Oct 07, 2020

Hanumankind and Kalmi come together for a new mixtape called ‘Surface Level.’ Photos: Courtesy of the artist (Hanumankind); Shitabh Pillai (Kalmi)

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There’s a frustrated groan at the beginning of “No Hook,” but rapper Hanumankind aka Sooraj Cherukat and producer Kalmi aka Kalimireddy Nikhil get the flow going without any hiccups whatsoever to kick off their new four-track mixtape Surface Level.

In four days, the rapper put together four songs, while his producer counterpart in Hyderabad created four beats in the same timeframe. The result is their moody, hard-hitting tag team who go over gritty hip-hop that even has an assist from singer-songwriter Rudy Mukta on the skittering, trap-informed “Catharsis.” Hanumankind says, “I was going through a very bad writer’s block when the pandemic hit and I felt helpless at one point. That’s when Kalmi and I decided to challenge ourselves and make this mini-mixtape from scratch with a deadline of four days.”

As he points out on the noisy, almost-metal beat for “Rest In Power,” this whole experiment is something they did for themselves. Hanumankind throws in a reference to animated film Wreck-It Ralph but talks about accepting oneself as Kalmi wraps around corroded basslines on “Rest In Power.” Elsewhere, there’s nods to liking heavy metal, comic book hero Batman, animated franchise Dragon Ball Z and tennis star Novak Djokovic layered across messages about feeling lost and fighting crises.

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The duo previously worked together on Hanumankind’s 2019 EP Kalari, with Kalmi helming production on “Bottle of MH” and “Wildshit.” The rapper says that he’s working on “a couple of big projects” which may be revealed by the end of the year. He adds, “I have a mixtape with [Kerala producer] Parimal Shais which has a very different vibe to it. Also, might drop an LP sometime in Feb or March.”

Watch the video for “No Hook” below. Stream ‘Surface Level’ on more platforms here

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