Naezy Talks New Single ‘302’ and His ‘Oho Beat Change’ Moment
The Mumbai rapper packs it all into two minutes on his latest track
In 2017, when Mumbai rapper Naezy had made it to the U.K. for the first time, he gained a bit of internet infamy for one recorded freestyle session in which he uttered the surprised expression “Oho beat change.” What followed were memes that seemingly poked fun at Naezy’s unpreparedness.
He recounts the BBC Asian Network session and its aftermath, saying, “Maine mazak masti mein hi liya (I took it sportingly), all the memes and people who trolled me. But my artistic self felt bad. I thought that these people took me lightly and thought I’m a joke of a rapper. I felt angry about that.” Over nearly three years, Naezy deliberated picking up on the reference several times but it’s now made its way into his new firecracker single “302.”
While the song starts off at a familiar pace and then picks up the energy, it pivots completely when Naezy signals “Oho beat change,” producer Karan Kanchan churning out a more traditional hip-hop beat. Over this, Naezy delivers a freestyle-esque closing punch. The rest of the song – following up his early 2020 debut album Maghreb – also clocks in references by the dozen, whether it’s about a secular nation electing a right-wing party to power or how our current environment has put us in “remand.”
Ask Naezy if that last one is an intentional reference to fellow Mumbai rap star DIVINE’s song “Remand,” and he points out that the word is “common slang” and used often. “It’s not like it’s DIVINE’s copyright or anything.” The song title “302” takes from a section of the Indian Penal Code which relates to committing murder. Naezy explains how it all ties in together, “I got the nickname 302 from my friends because of how I used to murder it on the beat and just my behavior. There’s a fear of how dangerous 302 is in the Indian Penal Code. That’s why I like it. I took that to the song and the concept clicked – I would take on an alter-ego called 302, different from Naezy and then I’ll say whatever’s on my mind openly and without fear. That’s what I did on this track.”
While Naezy has been choosy about his livestreams and digital concerts, he tells us that the plan for 2020 is to keep releasing music. “We know live gigs aren’t going to happen that often right now. We’re making a plan and we’ll follow it,” he says.