Singer Baba Sehgal is referred to as one of the pioneers of bringing rap music and hip hop to Bollywood. Over the years, this format of music has seen an upheaval of change and lots of youngsters have started coming into music to become rap artistes and not the usual playback singers in films. Young artistes are taking forward the mantle of this music form and creating wonders with it.
Talk to any of the new-age rap stars and all of them speak unanimously about them having grown up listening to Eminem from the West and Baba Sehgal from India. Talking to Outlook, Sehgal speaks up about how he got introduced to rap music, the growth of the hip hop culture in India, and whether or not it has an influence on popular culture. Excerpts from the candid chat:
What kind of music did you listen to while growing up, and what was your first introduction to hip-hop?
My growing up was all Kishore Kumar and of course, during my time, the term hip hop did not exist. It was only in the 90s when I came to Mumbai, I got to know about hip hop and ‘Thanda Thanda Pani’ was the beginning.
How different is your music now from the time that you started?
I just follow my passion and create music and I am glad that I still do the type of music that I did when I started my career. It’s been more than 3 decades.
As a rapper, what is your best source material?
As I said, I just follow my passion to create music but yes social medial does help in spotting different talents across the globe.
Do you think the hip hop culture is growing in India?
It’s growing but most of the rappers follow the same trend and do the same kind of rapping. They are scared to try something new. To be relevant in today’s time, one must be original.
Tell us a bit about your fashion. Why do we see hip hop stars dress in a similar fashion always?
I am a Jeans and a T-shirt guy and never had to wear long and thick jackets to cover my belly. Thank god for that.
Do you think hip hop has an influence on the popular culture of how people talk and how people listen to music etc?
Hip hop culture is still very weak in India. We have a long way to go for it to have an impact on people’s minds. That’s why the rappers need to create something original rather than doing the routine kind of rapping.
How has your life changed or is changing with the growing influence of hip hop in popular culture?
My life is still the same because I have always believed in creating trends rather than following them. It doesn’t matter (to me) if the trend is big or small.
How important is it for rap to be political?
I have always stayed away from politics for good.