On his 2012 banger ‘iLL Manors’, British rapper ‘Plan B’ talks about the stigma attached to lower-income immigrant communities that live in London’s Council Estates and the demonization of its youth population. In Delhi, the population of Tilak Nagar faces a similar kind of stigmatisation. But, Prabh Deep and Sez, the Delhi-based rapper – producer duo are at the forefront of changing those perceptions and are highlighting the problems faced by their community through their work.
Tilak Nagar is a central character in Class-Sikh, the duo’s upcoming debut album. Gifted with a unique vocal texture – Prabh Deep is an extremely confident young MC that’s been relentlessly pushing his brand of conscious hip-hop for the past two years. However, since he’s hooked up with Sez, his work has been turning heads across the country. By crafting a sound that paints a vivid picture of their surroundings, Sez has managed to give Prabh’s lyrics and flow a home that reflects the anger, frustration and joy of growing up in the area.
Fresh off the release of their debut single, titled ‘G Maane’, we caught up with the duo to ask them about their influences, their production process, the inspiration behind Class-Sikh and more.
DHH: How long have you known each other? What was your early life like – before you guys met?
Sez: We met 2 years ago – around January 2015.
Prabh Deep – My early life was lit and it’s still lit. Back in the day, I used to be a b-boy and was attending jams and stuff like that. I had this series in the works called “Old-School Cypher” which featured rappers from New Delhi. Before I met Sez, I wasn’t able to concentrate on writing original and unique content because I was focussing on producing my own stuff too. But, when Sez came into picture it all got sorted and the songs started flowing automatically.
Sez – Regarding my early life, it was the same as Prabh’s – still is actually. I was working with different artists across India and was producing beats. Also, I was focusing on establishing my beat selling business with my brother Stunnah Beatz. I hit Prabh Deep up after watching the Old-School Cypher 3 which he did with MC Heam. It felt original, the concept was fresh and the production quality was amazing at that time. So, I hit him up, we met the same day and ended up producing our first track together i.e. Prabh x Sez – Feel Me. Other than that, I was just focusing on my own stuff at that time.
DHH: What pushed you guys towards pursuing hip-hop? Any album, video or song?
Prabh Deep: B-Boys across the country inspired me – shoutout to Roc Fresh Crew, Agnastik Crew, Aastik and Tandvas Crew. Other than that, artists like Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, ScHoolboy Q, NWA, Eric B and Rakim etc. inspire me to keep evolving and write unique, forward-thinking music.
Sez: Ah man! For me, it all started with the fire I saw in artists back in the day that were trying to put Indian hip-hop on the map. S/O to my man Enkore and MC Feral who actually got me into making hip-hop beats in the first place. If it wasn’t for them, I am not sure what I would be doing at present. I remember hearing Classic back in the day and getting inspired by it so much that I wanted to get that sound. Between then and now, I don’t know what happened but it happened for good, hella good!
DHH: When did you guys decide to make Class-Sikh? What pushed you towards that direction?
Prabh Deep x Sez: We started working on an EP around March 2015. We were making songs and dumping them because they were not that good and some of them were so impromptu that we released them as small session tracks and free verses like Kon Hai Tu etc. After that, we made a lot of songs and again that dumping process started until we found a sound which could be used across an entire album – a sound that defines Prabh x Sez.
It was around November 2015 when that happened and we started working on new material once again, we had some old songs which were dope and were not yet released like Feel Me, so we decided to roll those singles out and work on the other material behind the scenes. Prabh actually started performing the singles that were still under construction at his shows which got us an idea of the crowd reaction to those songs. He told me it was LIT and we rolled with that and started polishing those out. We are still in the process of working that project out.
DHH: What was the vibe you were looking to create? Any albums or artists that influenced your music production / lyrics / flow?
Prabh Deep x Sez: Like we mentioned in the previous answer, it was all a matter of finding a soundscape which defines us. A blend of dark and happy elements which balances each other. Themes which are real and present in our daily lives – stuff that happens in Delhi-18. We derive our inspiration from TDE (Top Dawg Entertainment), Run The Jewels, Pro Era and our old material.
DHH: How ‘G Maane’ come about? What inspired you to write it?
Prabh Deep x Sez: ‘G’ Maane was actually an idea which all started from an old track of Prabh Deep with MC Heam, titled “Chi Chi” which had this line in it ‘Ehna Di Gallan Aandu Paandu, Bolan Eh Ne G, par G Maane Gaandu’ which is the hook of our new single. The incident which fueled this song was some very late payments by reputed venues, plus, whenever I(Prabh Deep) was late by 5 minutes the venue management started teaching me business ethics when they were not following their own guidelines. We live in really strange times. Plus, the issues that were happening in our daily life like that censor board thing that happened – it all got messed up bad and the song happened in one night.
DHH: Who came up with the concept for the video?
Prabh Deep x Sez: We had our concept in the beginning but we were struggling to execute it until CANFUSE came into the picture. Since we are from different cities, Prabh had to go to Bombay to get the shoot done. Fortunately, he had a show in Bombay, which paid for the video too. CANFUSE is a dope videographer and editor and a great B-Boy. His vision combined with ours made the ‘G Mane’ video what it is. Plus, the skill set that CANFUSE has is amazing and the best part about him being a B-Boy and an avid Hip-Hop listener is that he knew how the final output should look. S/O to him and my man MOJO for the sick artwork.
DHH: What do you hope Class-Sikh will do for the Indian hip-hop scene?
Prabh Deep x Sez: We are only focusing on our stuff right now and are just concentrating to get the final quality output. We just want the album to push the scene forward and encourage other rappers and producers to concentrate on quality content and put Indian on the map for the bigger picture.
If you haven’t already. check out the video for G-Maane right here.