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New Delhi’s Naqaab47 and Shoals on Their Wavy Debut Album ‘Parvarish’

The hip-hop combo of rapper Adi Radia and producers Sidharth Gupta and Utkarsh Varma address growing up in your twenties, with help from rappers Gravity, Rebel 7 and others

Anurag Tagat May 10, 2022

Shoals' Sidharth Gupta and Utkarsh Varma collaborated with rapper naqaab47 aka Adi Radia (from left to right). Photos: Ish Raheja (Shoals); Rohan Surti (naqaab47)

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Ask New Delhi hip-hop artist naqaab47 aka Adi Radia how long his debut full-length album Parvarish has been in the works and he says, “My entire life! Ever since I was a kid, I always wanted to be an artist of some kind but didn’t find my form until very late in life.”

Collaborating for a few years with producer duo Shoals (Utkarsh Varma and Sidharth Gupta), there are life stories and lessons aplenty on Parvarish across eight tracks and the artists also share the mic with friends like Gravity (on “Doori,” a song about social introversion and isolation), Rebel 7 (“Kala,” a slick consolidation of one’s purpose), Shinigxmi (on the shimmeringly produced “Fkp”) and Radence (on “Aatma”), among others.

Shoals and naqaab47 found their groove when Gupta and Radia were students at the University of Southern California a few years ago. They attended a concert by prog artist Steven Wilson along with a group of friends and went on to become housemates. Gupta adds about Radia, “When he first got into hip-hop, he wasn’t very serious about it. But we went on to make a couple of songs together just for fun.” Radia, on his part, was keenly following Shoals’ music and encouraged them in his own way. Gupta too would push his friend to better his rap game as naqaab47. Together, they launched their first EP Paidaish in 2019.

The pairing of naqaab47 and Shoals as a hip-hop producer-and-rapper combo started with the song “Chetavni” off Paidaish and went on to include bops such as “Dilli,” powerful politically charged songs like “Insaaniyat” and “Andolan,” plus existential rap on “AQI.” Varma says about their association, “When you continue to work with the same person or set of people, over time you understand each other better and this allows you to keep growing and taking what you have forward. With the passage of time, one can really find and develop their own unique sound within the larger musical landscape.” Radia adds, “A true producer doesn’t just make the beats, they play a fundamental role in writing and shaping the song itself.”

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With their rapport cemented, Parvarish was their first album project together. Although songs like “Yaad” and “Kala” were released in 2020 and 2021 respectively, Radia says there was no bigger goal for him than to make a “classic hip-hop album in the Hindi language.” For Shoals, it was their first fully hip-hop album, as opposed to their standalone albums that were more electronic. The first songs as part of the project were “Yaad,” “Gulaami” and “Bhavishya.” The latest ones added were “Aatma” and “Ateet,” the latter a suitably intoxicating yet torturous jam about addictions of different kinds. It even has a trippy music video by filmmaker Rohan Bajaj to boot. “Each song is about a unique subject that is relevant to the experience of growing up in your twenties… With this album, the idea was to tackle subjects of universal relevance through a personal lens, which mandated that I think deeper about larger metaphysical issues as well as ponder my own life experiences in order to successfully put them on the page and express them through my medium,” the rapper adds.

It’s a labor of love and that’s audible throughout the 23-odd minutes of Parvarish. Naqaab47 and Shoals take apart everything from corporate work culture (“Gulaami”) to the privilege that being young affords (“Fkp”) and pushing for individuality against societal norms (“Aatma”). With videos out for “Yaad,” “Kala” and “Ateet” off the album, the artists confirm there are more visual elements planned in the coming months. With the culmination of Parvarish, naqaab47 and Shoals say this is the end of their “collaborative efforts together for the foreseeable future.” They add in a joint statement, “We are looking forward to taking up individual projects and doing more collaborative work with other artists. You will still find naqaab47 chilling at Sid and UT’s latest venture Flip Studios in GK [in New Delhi], where he will be seen sitting on the couch playing games on his Nintendo Switch every now and then.”

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Stream ‘Parvarish’ below. Hear on SoundCloud, Apple Music.

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