Exclusive Interview – Street Academics’ “Kalapila” Just Changed The Game

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Desi Hip-Hop has come to a point where we have new content from all regions in the South Asian continent releasing every single day. In India there has been a boom in music, especially Hip-Hop music because the people have been very receptive towards the concept of the culture and the messages we spread through our songs. Street Academics is a name that is bound to carry Hip-Hop in our side of the planet onwards to new heights.

In recent years the music has been spreading even more due to the regional boom that the sound has experienced. Emcees from all around the country are now spitting in their regional languages so that they can relate to the people around them and spread their message far and wide. Representing the south of India, from Kerala are a rap supergroup called “Street Academics”.

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Dead Crows Tell Tales

They have been dropping hit single after hit single time after time and kept going at it since the time they started out. Their debut with “Vandi Puncture” featured in well known Malayalam TV channel – Asianet. From then on to now, they have just been adding to their accolades. And this time with their recent video, they have made sure they changed not just the soundscape, but also the way visuals are looked at in music in India.

At first look, “Kalapila” looks like it’s straight out of a professional South Indian movie. Infact, the video itself is a short movie. There are so many levels to this music video that the fact that it has been presented as easy to interpret at a glance is just genius.

Bangalore Days

In recent years, with job opportunities flourishing in Bangalore, it has been noticed that a lot of young bachelors from Kerala/Tamil Nadu have migrated from their hometown to the big city. This is the premise of the video. Kalapila follows the story of one such man, who has settled into the hustle bustle of the city and has soon come to miss his roots. His home town, the backwaters, the hills, valleys and peaks of God’s own country – Kerala. It is interesting to note that this is the same story that follows the members of Street Academics in real life. Half of their members now reside in Bangalore. And on a call with them, they said “Kalapila is a concept that got derived from our stories. The song was actually written a year ago and followed our plight too.”

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In the video we see the man walk through the city and slowly we see the city transform through his eyes into the memories he holds of his native land. The roadways become backwaters, the pools become the lakes, even the coffee he drinks reminds him that there is one that tastes better in his homeland. As the man goes on with his day to day life, his monotonous 9-5 job, we see him thinking more and more about visiting his native place. He later becomes adamant about his thoughts and books the tickets to go home. Then the video follows his thought process as he gets closer and closer to the day that he goes to his home.

The Depth Of ‘Kalapila’

RJV of Street Academics has beautifully written the catchy, emotional and deeply inspiring lyrics to the song. Azuran has performed these vocals and written the hook. For non-Malayalees, below is the translation of the song –

“As the waves from percussions turned lunatic,
days flickered on as the beat went.
A foot length of verbal handicrafts sprinkled on sea,
never made it to land, but it did in my eyes.
As white coasts bloomed into blue waters,
I searched for the pearl of dreams in depths.
Then saw the light from the shine of lips;
in reflection, where I met myself.”

21430417_10212152643589520_6000423685158077716_nAzuran

Kalapila was produced by V3K (Vivek Radhakrishnan) of Street Academics and he also has outshined most producers with this beat. It is a blend of folk, a tiny bit of reggae and Hip-Hop music. Even with a video this appealing, they have ensured that the sound is at the forefront of it all.  This song and video has it all; emotion, depth, and longing to know/return to ones roots.

Interview with Street Academics

DesiHipHop.com met with fellow Street Academics members and did a little interview about their latest. Check out what they had to say –

What inspired you to design the track the way it has been executed? This is a mix of folk and rap instrumentals (rarely seen in the Hip-Hop soundscape here), what drove you to reach this level of production? 

V3K [Beat Producer] – Our main goal while producing this track was to maintain the Soul all through the mix . It was high time we gave back something to everyone around us and we decided to create something positive and motivational like Kalapila. It evolved over several months through various journeys of life. From basic old-school sampling to masterpiece Violins by Dr. Bhavya Lakshmi, chopped up guitars and reverberant melodic vocals of Amjad, all had to maintain the wave or the swing that’s got everyone hooked. Special Shoutout to ‘Roshan A Pattani’ for helping me with the Mixing and Mastering of the song. Very excited to let you know that the song will be soon available on download on all major digitals platforms like iTunes, Spotify, Saavn etc.

When people look at the previous tracks of S.A, this is a complete shift from the usual sound/topic of what y’all cover in music. What went through your mind while creating this rhythm for the track? 

Azuran [Vocals] – What got us together is our love for hip-hop. That bob your head, find your groove and spit some fire shit we grew up listening to. We wanted to be the first hip hop crew from our place to garner some sort of attention and following. Once that was done and dusted we realised that we could do so much more for the people and for music if we were to break down the walls and constraints that surround genres. If you ask us, Kalapila is still very much hip hop. It’s just a matter of tweaking your perspectives  to see the “hip hop” in it. The groove, the beat, the rhythm and of-course the soul of it.

It is a far cry from what we had done in the past, but our music is evolving. We are gonna keep making music, whether it’s gonna be hip hop or not is a question that we leave up to our listeners to decide. Our soul would always be rooted in the old school and as for our music, we are gonna keep doing our thing without putting a label on it. And yes you are still gonna get to hear us spit bars, we will continue rapping till we are fossils!

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The music video for this track is certainly the best music video to drop this year. This must have been a long time coming and it certainly was worth the wait. What was the key factor that tied everything; from the song, to the acting, to the production, to it’s release; together? 

Amrit Rajesh [Director] The track has created a lot of buzz. I thank Street Academics for that. When I heard ‘Kalapila’ for the first time, I got hooked to that lyrical wordplay and the beat was catchy. I felt like hearing an unspoken tale, something emotional. So I immediately called Amjad and said “Macha I heard the song, its brilliant and you guys wont be performing this time. We’ll go with a story arc,” and he agreed. I wanted something people can relate to. Thus, came the story of a working class fresher in a city missing his village.

And I wanted the take to be something fresh and special since a mallu working in a big city missing home is so cliche’d. Then came the vision theory, Where he gets zoned out for sec and visualises his favourite native place moments blended to the city-scape through VFX. After the release of Kalapila, the most pointed out was the casting. Abilash did a great job. He blends in very well. He has this innocent charm he puts in, even in a sad scene. A versatile actor.

The shoot was hectic. 3 day Bangalore shoot and 2 day Alapuzha, Kerala. I’m more of a run and gun filmmaker, so the crew was short. Literally me, Akki (Akhil Joshy) who assisted me, and Abhi (actor). Akki is a talented filmmaker too and he was a great help. Without him,this couldn’t have been possible. The final shoot day where we shot the band, was iconic. The guys came up looking traditionally classic in a frickin boat. For me personally, as a Street Academics fan, that was one helluva view. I knew then that would be a killer shot. The video has released. So far so good. Happy about the great response from the viewers. Some pretty good offers coming in. We wanted it to be something a viewer can relate to, and we got that.

What’s coming up next for us? We have been waiting for more quality music, can we expect more like “Kalapila” or will you guys be dropping more of the hardcore rap that y’all usually release, or a bit of both? 

RJV – You really can’t expect anything from us. Because even we don’t have clue about future as well, just letting things happen instead of pushing it. More and more coming up, as we have tailored various tracks on different topics, in separate genres over the years. We usually don’t pre-plan on a long term basis, so such is the ride. Also mentioning our side branches, the conscious/political project Mappila Lahala coming up with new tracks, and the anarchist/dystopian project Palakkadan Dystopia is about to release Narakasabha EP along with singles as well. Stay with us folks.

Abhimanyu – A lot of stuff we have been cooking is ready for release. And it just feels like the right time, you know? One of our side projects, Palakkadan Dystopia is coming out with its debut EP soon. We have a song we made in collaboration with progressive rock band, “Space Behind The Yellow Room”. This is courtesy 4/4 entertainment, who are coming out with a compilation of songs made as part of “The Clash” series of shows. There’s also some mad stuff coming up with some great artists from Trivandrum.

Now that you know the story behind this masterpiece; listen to Kalapila below. Dont forget to share and support these amazing group of talents!