#HaqSeBolo Podcast Ep#5 Prabh Deep: ‘If You Don’t Learn the Business of Music, How Will You Survive as an Artist?’
The New Delhi rapper on scaling success, hip-hop beef, his biggest ambitions and more
“This year was a part of my plan. Next decade is [also] a part of my plan,” says New Delhi rapper and producer Prabh Deep. #HaqSeBolo’s fifth episode features the 25-year-old hip-hop artist who is making waves in Punjabi rap with his hard-hitting lyricism and fluid, experimental production in conversation with Rolling Stone India’s Executive Editor Nirmika Singh. Bolo is the audio and video podcast series chronicling the journeys of some of the biggest names in Indian hip-hop 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 25-year-old breakout underground rapper first took the Indian hip-hop scene by storm with his debut LP Class-Sikh (2017, produced by Sez On The Beat), becoming the voice of New Delhi’s youth. Through verses that reflected the struggles of his neighborhood Tilak Nagar, Prabh Deep spoke about drug addiction, unemployment, mental health and more, landing him on Rolling Stone India’s 2017 (Hip-Hop Artist) Hot List. With his latest EP King (2019), the rapper slipped into the role of producer too, bringing smooth pop hooks and jazz elements, blending them with deep bass and synth. Taking on ambition, love, politics and more with his lyrics, it’s safe to say that Prabh Deep’s voice and honesty are here to stay.
“I’m not making music for the fans. Or anyone. I’m making music for myself,” he said. The rapper doesn’t factor money or fame when making a song, wanting to channel all his energy into something positive. “As much as I love money, I never let it sit on my head. It’s always in my pocket,” he said. He recalled how songs like “Amar” (featuring New Delhi bassist Hashbass) were made. “Yeh ek-ek raat waalein gaaney hai (These are songs that were made in a night,)” he said. Prabh Deep would ruminate over an idea while he slept, wake up in his peak creative zone and knock out the song in the studio while Hashbass brought the instrumental emotion to his lyrical expression.
He also spoke of actively turning venues and studios into spaces which are free of judgement and dangerous elements, so that no artist — especially non-male artists — feels hindered in their journey to make music.
Right from before his debut LP to now, Prabh Deep has always known what he wants to achieve and the rapper revealed on Bolo that everything is going according to plan. The listeners who sing his lyrics back to him at gigs continue to inspire him to keep pushing the ante. But the rapper noted that inspiration can’t serve as the only driving force for artists.
“Music is 50 percent. Business is the other 50 percent. You can’t sustain yourself without business. If you’re not teaching yourself how to do business, you’re just going to die as an artist. How are you going to survive?” he said. Prabh Deep further added, “I can kill it in the studio and I can kill it in a meeting as well. I know both sides,” maintaining that artists need to keep refreshing and challenging their skillset in order to stay in the game. He shared that he’s been hitting gigs harder lately, hearing everything from techno to rap to expand his music knowledge as he continues to explore drum and bass.
The beef in Indian hip-hop doesn’t faze him anymore. The rapper has nothing to rant about. “It used to bother me. Now, I think there are lots of other fucked up shit already in this country that [has] overpowered the scene as a whole. So I’ve made my peace with it,” he says.
Speaking of the pop culture hype waves that end in certain artists and genres cementing their dominance, Prabh Deep set the record straight on Bolo: “Only cream stays. Main tab bhi tha aur abhi bhi hoon. Aur mere jaise aur bhi hai. Divine tab bhi tha aur abhi bhi hai (I was here then and I’m still in the game. So was Divine. There are others too just like us.)” He thinks it’s time for the Indian independent music scene to band together and say, “Fuck it, let’s just be together and be a force.”
Prabh Deep also spoke about his learnings from Delhi’s diverse music scene, how live performances are game changers, the role that women have played in his life and career and more. He also addresses a scandal or two. Watch the fifth episode of #HaqSeBolo below: