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See Shah Rule Revel in Materialism in ‘Khara Sona’ Video

The Mumbai-based hip-hop artist, recently signed to Mass Appeal India, talks about how his latest song is a cautionary tale

Anurag Tagat Mar 09, 2021

Hip-hop artist Shah Rule. Photo: Mohit Mukhi / Gltch.

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Shah Rule can tell you a thing or two about gold. After all, the rapper-singer used to wear fake chains in his videos up until two years ago when he bought gold. He counts it as an investment as well. “I also hold bitcoin, but that’s a whole other conversation. Maybe I’ll make a film about that afterwards,” he says over the phone.

The Indian-origin artist – real name Rahul Shahani – was born in Hong Kong, lived in Moscow and London and currently lives in Mumbai. So he knows a thing or two about privileged big city living. Yet, he found friends and collaborators in hip-hop crew Gully Gang, including founder DIVINE, who all come from different, mostly much more modest means. “I can’t front and say that, ‘Oh, I grew up in the gullies,’ because I didn’t. But I resonate with the grind and the struggle when it comes to music,” he says.

From appearing in 2019 hip-hop flick Gully Boy to now being the latest signee for Mass Appeal India, Shah Rule’s new song “Khara Sona” ties in all the experiences of hustle, materialism and the pitfalls of fame. Paired with his upcoming EP’s opening track “Hooked” (featuring Shillong hip-hop artist Meba Ofilia), the gaudy music video sees Shah Rule exuding hubris – even quoting actor Sanjay Dutt’s “pachas tola” line from 1999 Bollywood crime film Vaastav – and eventually being brought back to reality.

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Shah Rule says the video, which he co-directed with filmmaker Anil Sequeira, also plays on the concept of “gateway to materialism,” which is a mobile phone and its insatiable screen time and resultant social media addiction. “Khara Sona” is also Shah Rule’s first shot at singing only in Hindi, where he had previously leaned on English verses and hooks. The rapper adds, “It’s been a combination of how it’s the right time for a project like this and it just sounds right with this type of song as well. I think certain words get across more powerfully on ‘Khara Sona.’”

The upcoming EP – which Shah Rule remains mostly tight-lipped about in terms of timelines and release dates – will feature more collaborators in addition to Meba Ofilia, and everything from club bangers to R&B to trap. “It has this theme of the duality of good and evil for social media and in the digital world,” the rapper says. He adds about the sound, “I always struggle with wanting to keep a good balance of commercialism and conscious music. So, this for me is the best offering I can give in terms of that balance.”

Outside of prepping for the EP, Shah Rule has also been performing a few shows in the post-lockdown world. “I wish people would take it upon themselves to social distance and wear masks. But I find myself halfway through a show looking around and being like, wow, you know, people are enjoying themselves and that’s great,” he says. At the same time, he makes sure to add that he really wouldn’t want another lockdown like they’ve had in parts of Europe. He says, “I’m just trying to get on the road because the last year we didn’t have enough shows.” He pauses and adds wryly, “Just trying to perform as much as possible and get the money.”

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