RISING RAP STAR ADI REVEALS HIS NEW SONG’S INSPIRATION
by ASJAD NAZIR
INDIA has become a hotbed for hip hop in recent years and produced world-class music acts like exciting newcomer Adi.
Born in Mumbai and now making waves in New York, the rap talent recently released his sizzling single .22, which showed off his creative flair. He is set to follow that up with his five-track EP Pigeonholed and is a fast rising star dazzling all those who encounter his music.
Having grown up in a full house of 16, where he was the youngest, Adi was surrounded by diverse music from a young age and quickly formed a strong connection with it thanks to a supportive family. Now he is looking to make a mark with music that incorporates diverse styles and has meaningful messages.
Eastern Eye caught up with Adi to talk about music, his latest single and future hopes.
You grew up exposed to diverse artists ranging from Mohammad Rafi to Michael Jackson, Nas and Kanye West. But how much of your work is based on personal experiences?
Almost everything I write comes from a place I have personally been to in my life, or seen a loved one go through. I approach the pen differently based on which perspective I’m writing from, but I always want to tell an unheard story in my music. I use the word ‘almost’, because I also enjoy writing aspirationally – where I see things headed. I think it’s an effective tool to set benchmarks for myself.
Which of your tracks would you say is closest to your heart?
I wrote a song called Stretch Marks as an 18-year-old. It was my immature take on understanding my parents’ journey as young adults in India, and I use the word ‘immature’ as a synonym for idealistic. It was the first time I felt like I could speak freely to my parents, and that opened my eyes to the truthfulness music demands. It was easily the greatest feeling – not only to get things off my chest, but also to open the gates to a conversation that was long overdue, and solidified my relationship with my family more than anything.
Tell us about your new single .22?
.22 is about me navigating my way through the music business as a newcomer. It talks about the loss of relationships that comes at the cost of prioritising work, all against a ticking clock that tells you that there is a limit to when one can make great music or be recognised for it. It addresses suicidal thoughts, but in a way to normalise the occurrences of them.
What inspired the song?
I think it’s completely normal to think about the end of your life. Everyone feels that way at some point, and we just have to normalise it. I’ve seen people around me suffer with these thoughts because they’re scared to talk to someone. There’s no point in having a stigma around it because it only hurts the people we care about. I wanted to show people that there is no shame in that feeling.
Who are you hoping connects with this track?
Of course, anyone who feels subdued, afraid or shameful about having thoughts of depression and anxiety. The movement to better mental health has certainly evolved drastically in the West, but back in India, it seems like it has stayed stagnant and I think it’s long overdue that our generation starts making the change we so desperately need.
Which artists inspire you?
I have never considered myself to be just a hip-hop artist. So, I draw inspiration from a variety of greats like James Brown, Bill Withers, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Slick Rick – just artists who were greater than life itself. They had an air about them, a quality of soul in their music that cannot be replicated, and that’s what I long to achieve.
How does hip hop in New York compare to the fast emerging scene in India?
New York is the birthplace of it all – there is so much history in the genre that it’s hard for people to break out from that system, but trust me, it teaches discipline to the craft like no other city can. If I completely bombed an open mic in New York, the crowd would not hesitate to let me know. India on the other hand, has such a rich culture, but is relatively new to this scene, but I see that as the biggest advantage we have. It gives us the ultimate scope for unbridled creativity and experimentation, and I am excited for it just as a fan of hip-hop, if nothing else.
What is your musical master plan going forward?
I just want to make music I enjoy making, and my next project Pigeonholed, a five-track EP, exemplifies exactly that. I jump around from funk-driven tracks like P*ssing On A Cop Car, which discuss the current social climate around the world, to tracks like Locked In, which shows me take on r’n’b and explore a more melodic side. I absolutely love creating and can’t wait to showcase to the world. I just want to make good music with good people. That is all I can guarantee.
Who would you love to collaborate with in future?
My go-to dream collaborations include Tyler the Creator, Kanye West, Rex Orange County, exactly for the reason that they are so unpredictable with the kind of music they make, and I absolutely love that. From India, I have so much respect for artists such as Prabh Deep and Parekh & Singh, and I would be so humbled and honoured to even just sit on a studio session with them. They push artists like me from India to bring that finesse and quality that the global market demands.
Who is your hip hop hero?
That would have to be Jay-Z. A fantastic and respected artist, with a beautiful family and a business tycoon, what more could I ask for?
What music dominates your personal playlist?
Currently, it is primarily Chicago hip-hop beasts like Saba, Smino and Vic Mensa and the UK wave with artists like Dave, but there is always a little bit of Leon Bridges and Sampha scattered throughout for my soul.
If you could master something new in music, what would it be?
I want to learn the saxophone. It is probably my favourite sounding instrument. The swag that just oozes when I see my music-school friends pick up their sax is on a whole other level.
Why do you love music?
It is unlike anything in the world. It is the conveyor of mood, the voice of the voiceless and as ironic as this may sound, the ultimate escape to truly find oneself.