Exclusive Interview – Bombay Lokal And Daranti Group Unite India-Pakistan

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What do you get when you take Bombay’s freshest hip-hop collective, mix them up with Pakistan’s resident rap veterans and have them rap all over a beat composed by one of India’s best producers? A punch to your face, that’s what! Maarenge by Bombay Lokal and Daranti Group is an angry, impatient, unapologetic reminder that hardcore rap still exists in the world. Polymath and Haivaan lay verses down in Urdu and Punjabi respectively. Gravity and Shaikhspeare punch through in Hindi. That’s what makes this song a multi-lingual treat to the eardrums as much as it is an uppercut to whack emcees!

With Hip-Hop being a global genre, we have heavyweights in every corner of the world. RJV (of Street Academics) samples Bollywood dialogue to lead into the dark, gritty instrumental. All in all, its been a long time since we’ve heard such a raw sound come out of a cross-border collaboration, and Maarenge certainly does not fail to deliver.

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Desi Hip Hop got in touch with two of the squads’ front-men – Shaikhspeare (Bombay Lokal) & Polymath (Daranti Group) to get further insights about the song and chat about their further plans. Check out what they had to say in the interview below:

What is the motive behind Maarenge? Who do you target with the bold lyrics on the song?

Shaikhspeare – We wanted to show that you can spit is major regional languages (Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi) spoken by Indo-Pak masses and still be lyrically intense or grimy. The bold lyrics are targeted towards lyrically weak Desi rappers. They make mediocre songs and still get more plays or views just because they rap in the languages spoken by the masses.

Polymath – Every whack gharelu rapper in Pakistan! Me and Haivaan don’t listen to many Paki rappers since there’s nothing to relate to. We live and breathe hardcore hip-hop and we wanted to show our countrymen how it’s done.

Since this is a cross-border collaboration, it aims to prove that unity exists within music beyond geographical boundaries. Why do you think musicians in either country don’t take this kind of step very often?

Shaikhspeare – There is a sense of fear among the artists on both sides that acts as a barrier. This is due to conflict and tensions that build up every now and then at the borders. An artist may even fear losing their fan base at home, especially when they have a voice of dissent in their art form. But there are liberal and rational people/artists on both sides. They think alike and are pretty aware that this cross-border hatred is just a political propaganda. Music/art can break such barriers.

Polymath –  Most Pakistani artists can’t seem to think outside the confines of their own borders. Some even get angry if people are collaborating with Indians. It’s pretty hypocritical, because most of them probably grew up on Indian music/movies.

RJV has been one of my top 5 Indian producers of all time. What was the process behind coming up with this sort of a collaboration?

Shaikhspeare – Rjv is clearly my favourite producer from the scene because his style is unique. I simply love the type of beats he produces and feel content after dropping verses on his beats. Me and Hassan were discussing our love for boom bap Hip-Hop when he played this beat that RJV had gifted him. Within split seconds, I forced Hassan to have me on this joint!

Polymath –  Before I started rapping, I used to listen to Street Academics regularly. Somehow RJV listened to my band Multinational Corporations, so there was some mutual understanding from which we could make some noise together. I sent him some samples of 60’s Pakistani rock songs, and he did the rest.

Lastly, is there a bigger picture here? Will we be seeing more participation and collaboration between both of your crews, and by extension both of our nations?

Shaikhspeare – “Daranti Group” is one of my current favorite Desi Hip-Hop crews. We at “Bombay Lokal” relate to their political views, ideologies and musical taste. So yes, we can assure that people on both sides will get to hear more stuff from us both individually and collectively.

Polymath –  That’s the dream. Break down borders & crush biases through good music. We have some more Indo-Pak collabs on Daranti Group’s upcoming mixtape which is called “Zero Nation Theory.” Watch out for that!

If you’ve gone through this interview before hearing what song we’re talking about, get ready for a rollercoaster ride! This is – MAARENGE by Bombay Lokal & Daranti Group.