Naezy Preps for Debut Album
The Hindi/Urdu rapper on sticking to his roots and ditching DIY on the upcoming record
At first glance, it’s hard to imagine Naved Shaikh to be theÂ mastermind behind 2014’s tongue-in-cheek break-through “Aafat”. The 20-year-old BSc. graduate is a stark, almost unrecognizable opposite of his on-stage act as Naezy ”” the sprightly, street-bred hip hopper spitting rhymes that chronicle the poverty, hustle and resilience of Bombay Sattar [the postcode of his ghetto-esque residence, Kurla], complete with a cap and wayfarers. The same attire, in fact, that has earned admonishment from his community: “Some people got annoyed with my parents because of my influence””the kids wear caps and swag mein aane lage haiÂ [they’ve got swag now],” explains the Urdu/Hindi rapper, who heavily draws inspiration from To Pimp A Butterfly mastermind Kendrick Lamar. “Kendrick Lamar kuch alag mazaa hai, agal kar deta hai.”
But the same community that criticizes Naezy is also taking notice of his music””a no-holds-barred discourse of urban society that’s rife with corruption and crime. Even his parents, who initially disapproved of his musical pursuits, labelling it haraam are warming up to the idea of hip hop.
And 2015 has indeed beenÂ productive for Naezy ”” a viral hit [“Mere Gully Mein”], more catchy singles, a slew of gigs alongside the likes of Nucleya and Baba Sehgal, to name a few. But despite even a Bollywood and TV collaboration [Naezy contributed to a track in 2015’s Hey Bro and comedy group AIB’s satirical series On Air With AIB], the rapper is clear about sticking to his independent roots, wanting to build a space for the underground fledgling hip hop scene. He also clears the air about cashing in on the Bollywood collaborationÂ alongside commercial names like Mika Singh and Udit Narayan: “People think I’m suddenly privileged ””I did a BollywoodÂ track and I suddenly own crores. It’s nothing like that””I got paid some [Rs] 5-10,000.”
As he preps for his [tentatively eight-track] debut album, NaezyÂ ditches the DIY approach of looping beats on his iPad andÂ recording his rhymes in a home setup, and instead hits theÂ studio with a more professional approach: “We want to recordÂ everything nicely. Things are going a little slow, but there’s no rush; we want to do it well,” he says.
The as-yet untitled album””not unlike Naezy’s viral singles””promises to call out socio-political and cultural bullshit, from police brutality to materialistic mainstream rappers. Whereas “Hilaasat” addresses police brutality [“They try to beat up the people making love ”], “Tehelka” is a “subliminal diss” towards mainstream artists “jo bling ke baare mein rap karte hain [who rap about bling]” and objectify the world around them. Says Naezy, “Since I haven’t put out any new songs in a while, there is an anticipation building withÂ the public, and we have to match that.”