#ReviewRundown: November 2020
This month, we check out the latest from Udaipur artist Priyansh Paliwal, Bengaluru hip-hop artists Agaahi Raahi, Akx and NEX, plus prog-leaning artist Paraj, multi-instrumentalist-producer Jose Neil Gomes and Tamil rapper-producer Nigavithran
Agaahi Raahi, NEX, Akx – Ye Hai Baghawat
Thriving in the Bengaluru hip-hop scene for a few years now, rappers Agaahi Raahi, NEX and Akx have steadily honed their skills as part of the Wanandaf crew with seasoned rapper Smokey the Ghost. With revolution and protest on their mind, their album Yeh Hai Baghawat is essential listening for anyone on the lookout for lyrically dauntless and sonically cerebral commentary on societal ills. Aided by a bevy of producers, the rappers run down patriarchy, caste discrimination, genocide and more, touching upon news-making horrors such as the murder in Hathras earlier this year to the movement against the Citizenship Amendment Act. At a time when protests continue on the streets in the capital, Yeh Hai Baghawat signifies a steely sense of determination from India’s rising rappers.
Priyansh Paliwal – Sunday
On his second EP this year, Udaipur singer-songwriter Priyansh Paliwal weaves together a serene, radiant listening experience with Sunday. Aptly made to reflect an unhurried weekend, the 28-year-old taps into a simple but effective hook on “Aaja Na” and employs soothing slide guitar parts on “Beh Bhi Le.” Masterfully adept with the guitar, Paliwal uses songs like “Jab Tu Mila” as a vehicle for twinkly, soulful melodies which prove he can lead just fine even without adding too much vocals. The only English song on the EP, “Lullaby” rounds off a saccharine and well-intentioned record, ending on a reverb-aided dreamy note.
Paraj – Inara
Previously part of prog band Rainburn, Bengaluru-based Paraj Kumar Singh channels his love for wide-as-canyons rock, progressive rock and more on his debut solo EP Inara. Centered around ideas of the self and growing as individuals, the singer-guitarist and producer (also part of instrumental rock band Flaw & Order) aims to be as sublime as possible across five tracks. While acoustic guitars act as a bedding for Singh, it works delightfully on pensive tracks like “Continue” and “Adrift” but sounds a tad repetitive at times when heard all together. Breaking away from previous indulgences, the more modern prog-leaning track “The Other Side” is the perfect remedy to prevent any monotony, the riffs springing Singh’s songwriting to life.
Nigavithran – 82 D Block
On his debut album, Tamil rapper and producer Nigavithran clearly strives for a statement of diversity. He talks boldly about his underground roots (“Still I Am Underground”) and cites Eminem as an influence, but also turns total lover boy on “Kadhanayagi 2.0” and friendly breaker of bread (“Machi Tea Sollu”). For the most part, 82 D Block salutes the streets that he grew up in Chennai, like in the cut-throat pace of “D Block.” But his hood also taught him to fight for fundamental freedoms, as he goes all gnarly for rights (“Don’t Touch” and “Puratchi.”) His conviction fully intact, Nigavithran has burst out the door unstoppable so far with 82 D Block.
Jose Neil Gomes – Life Before Internet
In the last month alone, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and producer Jose Neil Gomes instated his new moniker .jng and released four EPs. It’s flittering, cerebral (and sometimes scatterbrain) compositions on offer for anyone interested in a glimpse into the mind of someone as seasoned as Gomes, and his latest .jng EP Life Before Internet is no different. Going from zero to 100 on the electronic dance music scale with the opening track “Life,” Gomes arrives a little more hazily on “Before,” bringing in measured hip-hop beats that cleverly morph into an euphoric dancefloor-friendly song. Esoteric electronic elements litter “Internet,” which sounds like it was devised on the basis of a one-man psychedelic jam by Gomes. The arch of the EP is certainly focused, even if short, and we’ll likely hear a lot more .jng material.