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Hip-Hop Crew Swadesi’s MC Tod Fod Passes Away at 24

The Mumbai multilingual hip-hop artist performed at the group’s DIY festival Swadesi Mela on March 19th

Anurag Tagat Mar 21, 2022

Late Mumbai-bred artist MC Tod Fod aka Dharmesh Parmar. Photo: Samarth Shirke

Update (23/3): Swadesi took to social media to share details of MC Tod Fod’s passing. On Instagram, the group stated, “Our Brother Dharmesh Parmar aka MC TodFod passed away on 20th of March in the afternoon. He died due to a heart attack while playing hackey sack. Post mortem reports have stated that he died because of high blood pressure that caused the attack. He had a heart problem in the past that happened around November last year.”

MC Tod Fod aka Dharmesh Parmar, the unwavering, provocative demander of truth with Mumbai’s multilingual hip-hop group Swadesi has died. Following a series of tributes and stories on social media, Swadesi’s label Azadi Records and management company 4/4 Entertainment confirmed the news. Tod Fod was 24 years old and the cause of death is yet to be confirmed.

As part of Swadesi — who came together in 2013 — Tod Fod stood shoulder to shoulder with MC Mawali, producers like NaaR and Raakshas, plus recent members like firepower rappers 100 RBH and Maharya. Among the most socially and politically conscious hip-hop artists in the country, Tod Fod’s verses on songs like “The Warli Revolt” in 2019 cemented his place as a voice who fought for environmental and human rights against corrupt institutions as he called it. Swadesi’s 2020 album Chetavni saw them dial up the pressure on corporations, societal ills and politicians. Their song “Kranti Havi” featuring Delhi Sultanate was especially unsparing. Tod Fod rapped in his verse, “Prerna ke roop mey shuru hoti kranti/Ek jaisi soch badlaav hai maangti” (Revolution starts in the form of inspiration/like how a thought demands change). The artist was part of several more singles right after, including “Plandemic.” His most recent single, “Truth & Bass,” produced by DJ Chromaderma and featuring rapper MC Solomon, was released on March 8th.

Elsewhere, Tod Fod rapped in Gujarati, earning a huge following for his work with producer Bandish Projekt on songs like “Dakla” in 2016, part of their collaborative EP Katal Kalaa. The producer regrouped with Swadesi for 2019’s EP Khulle Naagde. Tod Fod told Rolling Stone India about the association, “We hope for more impact, ‘cause it’s more languages now with the bass music by the genius [Bandish Projekt].” Early in 2019, Tod Fod and Swadesi, along with several other Indian hip-hop artists were called on to be part of Bollywood film Gully Boy, directed by Zoya Akhtar. Tod Fod contributed a verse to the hard-hitting song “India 91,” part of the soundtrack.

Beyond being influenced by rappers, Tod Fod was keen to break genre boundaries as well, working with everyone from bass dons like Bandish Projekt to metal band Providence. Trained in konnakol, he joined percussionist and composer Viveick Rajagopalan‘s Ta Dhom Project. In 2018, Tod Fod along performed at WOMEX festival in Spain with Rajagopalan and the Ta Dhom Project.

Tod Fod’s sudden passing has sent the Indian hip-hop community into grief and shock, with several top artists mourning a powerful peer at the mic. Prabh Deep said, “Rest in power brother man. See you on the other side. I remember meeting you on shows and always awestruck with your voice. This was unfair.” An official statement from Swadesi and its members is expected. The group performed their most recent live set on March 19th as part of their DIY adventure, art and music festival Swadesi Mela in Sandhan Valley in Maharashtra.

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