#HaqSeBolo Podcast Ep#1 Naezy: ‘Nobody Gives a Damn About the Real Bantais’
Naezy reflects on his hip-hop journey and gets real about the flipside of the gully rap persona
“‘Aafat’ jo bandey ne banaya tha woh ek bees saal ka college-going student tha (The boy who made ‘Aafat’ was a 20-year-old college student,)” says Mumbai rapper Naved Shiekh aka Naezy as he settles down to film the very first episode of the #HaqsSeBolo hip-hop podcast with Rolling Stone India Executive Editor Nirmika Singh. The audio and video podcast series will chronicle the journeys of some of the biggest names in Indian hip-hop in the forthcoming months as part of #HaqSeHipHop, digital media firm Qyuki and Rolling Stone India’s multi-platform venture to nurture the hip-hop ecosystem in the country.
The Bolo episode sees Naezy reflect on his incredible hip-hop journey and shed light on the flipside of the gully rap persona. Referring to the popularity of slangs like bantai, bacchi, bamai (brothers) in hip-hop songs recently, he says, “Tumne bantai ko cool banaya, lekin tumne yeh nahin dekha bantai ko school nahi hai, ration-paani nahi hai, chhat tapak rahi hai (You’ve just made these words cool. But nobody cares about what’s happening to the folks in the gullies and the conditions they’re living in. People need to give a damn,)” he says.
Naezy’s name is almost synonymous with gully rap in India, his story resonating with the country due to its relatability. To trace the roots of Indian hip-hop on Bolo, he goes back to language. The 26-year-old rapper treads carefully but with a mission; his words and platform now carry the weight of responsibility. When asked about the labels that are ascribed to him, he says, “Haqiqat toh yeh hai ki hum khud ek place mein fall ho gaye, gir gaye, aa gaye, pad gaye (The reality is that we stumbled into it and stayed.)” He adds, “Scene ke liye bahut zaroori hai ki hum sab ek doosre ka saath de (It’s important for the scene that we stick together.)”
The rapper also recounts how he made his first tracks on an iPad, the rap battles and cyphers him and his friends participated in back in the day, his collaboration with Nas (the track “NY Se Mumbai” which also featured fellow rapper Divine and actor Ranveer Singh) and touring in Australia, Japan, the U.S. and the U.K. “Yaar, abhi toh humne theek se shuru bhi nahi kiya hai (We haven’t even properly started yet,)” he mulls.
Naezy also spoke about his upcoming music, why a good writing environment is essential for hip-hop and the different kinds of rap that exist in India. “Gully hi seema nahi hai hip-hop ki. Aur hip-hop ki toh koi seema hi nahi hain (Gully rap is not where hip-hop draws its boundary. Hip-hop’s frontier is endless.)” Watch the first episode of #HaqSeBolo below: