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Ikka Talks Bollywood, Jamnapaar Rap and New Album ‘I’

The Punjabi and Hindi rapper teams up with DIVINE, Raftaar, Sikander Kahlon and more

Anurag Tagat Dec 22, 2020

Rappers Ikka and Raftaar. Photo: Courtesy of Mass Appeal India

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Although he’s risen to formidable levels of success and a lot of fame due to his work in the Hindi film music industry, Ikka aka Ankit Singh Patyal always had his eye on making a hip-hop album for himself. Much like his friend (and collaborat0r) Raftaar, Ikka seems to liken his debut album as an artistic statement that needs to be made over and above a body of work that ranges from Bollywood hits such as “Dilbar” to his releases for VYRL Originals and T-Series. Ikka says quite simply, “Bollywood is different. I knew what I wanted to do with my album and releasing a hip-hop album was always a childhood dream of mine, since the first time I heard hip-hop. ” 

Growing up on a staple of heavyweights such as Jay-Z, Eminem, Nas and 50 Cent (all names which are especially synonymous with Indian rappers in terms of influences), Ikka brings together a crafty blend of different styles of rap and beats on I. “Level Up,” which features fellow Mass Appeal India star rapper DIVINE and up-and-coming rapper-lyricist Kaater, employs modern trap from Mumbai’s DJ MissyK. Songs like “Demon” offer roomier old-school type production from Sez on the Beat, who also returns for a befitting incendiary beat for the Raftaar collab “Angaar.” 

While there’s easygoing tracks like “PS4 Pro” and “Maujjan” (with fellow Punjabi rapper Sikander Kahlon), Ikka gets real on “Conversation,” the murky centerpeice of that’s also produced by Sez. Ikka calls it the one he’s closest to on the album, on which he struggles with pressures and addresses suicidal thoughts. “‘Conversation’ is real, there’s nothing fake about it and it has been recorded that way as well. When I got a chance to develop the thought, I immediately did and put it on the album. It’s a track that is straight from the heart. Listeners have understood the song, which I have seen through fan comments and that’s a huge win for me,” he says. 

In an interview with Rolling Stone India, Ikka talks about the new album (released in November), collaborations and why he gives a shoutout to Jamnapaar on the record. Excerpts:

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After doing so many projects across the board — Bollywood, Pollywood and now signing with Mass Appeal India — how did you begin shaping up a full-length album? 

While growing up, I was introduced to hip-hop and had a chance to listen to many albums from artists such as Nas, Eminem, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, etc. Because of this over time I understood the structure of an album in my mind and it became really easy for me to develop my debut hip hop album I.

I make music instinctively when I sense a vibe. My song development process is usually the same, I get a topic or vibe in my head and usually I just write these down at various intervals whether I’m traveling or gaming; especially while traveling as I draw inspiration from things that I see. Depending on the beats I hear and how I vibe with them I then stitch my thoughts with my lyrics together and further develop the song and keep working on it till it’s perfect and I get the right sound that I want. 

“Demon” and “Conversation” are examples, which I’ve written straight from my heart. Two producers worked on “Conversation” and I wasn’t satisfied with it until Sez was able to crack it.

There’s a few references to Jamnapaar on this record, especially on “Angaar” and “Gaanewale Rapper.” Can you tell me why it means so much to shout out your roots and your area? 

I was introduced to hip-hop and learnt about it in Jamnapaar, I learnt how to rap there, how to draw and my best experiences and friends have all been from JamnapaarIt’s a very important part of my life and I’ve done things only there which I know I’ll never do again or get back in my life.

I think it’s extremely important for everyone to recognize their roots and where they come from because that makes you who you are. People from my community have always supported me so this is my way of giving back. Especially seen on “Gaanewale Rapper,” where Lil Golu and I have brought out the real “Jamnapaari” vibe at the heart of the song.

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You have a few guests on this album, DIVINE, Sikander Kahlon and Raftaar. What was the process like and was it remotely done because of the pandemic?  

Everyone on this album is like my family and I am so grateful to the rappers and producers who have supported me on this album! Yes, we developed the entire album during the pandemic. I had already worked on the skeletal structures of the songs with most of the producers from Sez On The Beat to Byg Byrd to Phenom to DJ MissyK, Ashock and Hardbazy. Raftaar and I had a chance to catch up during the pandemic. DIVINE and I were in touch because we wanted to do something together and we both have mutual respect, appreciation and support for each other and that’s what came through in “Level Up.” Sikander Kahlon is like family and we’re constantly in touch.

Watch the video for “Level Up” ft DIVINE, Kaater below. 

The type of music someone listens to says a lot about the person they are. I usually gauge artists by their vibe and try and understand them through the kind of music they listen to. So, everything just came together and I sent the artists my verses and hooks that were penned and based on what they liked they belted out their verses and sent it back to me and that’s how my album I took shape with all of their combined support.

What else is coming up for you in terms of projects and more singles or music videos off this album? 

We’re definitely going to be releasing a few more music videos from the album. I’ve already started working on my second album plus I have a couple of upcoming projects in 2021, which you will hear about very very soon.

Watch the video for “Angaar” below. Stream the album on more platforms here.

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