Syan, Spice, Slim and Nowsa G, the modern age Tamil rappers talk about their vision and means to popularise the art form in the city.
From ‘Yaaradi Nee Mohini…’ of Sivaji Ganesan starrer Uthamaputhiran to Prabhu Deva’s ‘Petta Rap’ of Kadhalan, rap songs are not new to the Tamil audience. But when this bunch of Madurai Rappers render, it sounds distinctly different. They pack a punch in their content, flow and delivery.
Their video songs ‘Chinna Ponnu’, ‘Vootla Kashtam’ and ‘Power Cut’ on Youtube have already attracted the attention of top musicians including Yogi B, the popular Tamil rapper in Malaysia.
Hailing from Sellur, a residential pocket in the city and hardly known for this kind of music, A.S. Saheerul Waris alias ‘Syan’, L. Senthil Kumar (Spice) and Naushad Ali (Nowsa G) form the core team. The only odd man out is M. Arul Singh Robin Rasa (Slim), who is a Mumbai-born Tamilian.
“Since I was into rap music and was aimlessly roaming around with friends in Mumbai, my parents packed me off to this city for studies,” says Slim, who is pursuing his engineering degree. His passion for music linked him to Syan. Their first meeting was filmy. “We met at the Race Course grounds while playing football. During the break, I heard Syan crooning Eminem songs. When he forgot the lines, I helped him to complete the lines,” he laughs.
Nowsa G, the senior most in the group, is the beat producer. He does not sing. Ask him where he learnt all his music from, he points to the mini laptop on the table. He learnt the basics from internet. “My interest in music took me to the computer and I picked up the basics from Internet,” says Nowsa G, who initially produced music using toy software.
Both he and his cousin Syan are school drop outs. “We started making movie spoofs and improved our Tamil writing skills by creating comedy capsules and dubbing popular movies like Titanic and Avatar,” says Syan.
Nowsa G’s small photo copy shop, where he also had PS II gaming console, is the favourite hang out of Syan and Spice, who used to play games there.
On hearing Yogi B’s ‘Madai Thiranthu…’ song, they decided to turn to music. “Even today, we follow Yogi B’s style. A reggae followed by chanted rhyming lyrics,” says Spice.
With no big financial background, they were at a crossroad. But it was Kathiresan who came to their rescue lending his recording studio. “It was a big morale booster for us then. We could produce music but did not know the technicalities involved in recording and reproducing it. We learnt a lot from the sound engineers at the studio,” says Nowsa G.
Each one contributes to the making of a song, writing their own portion of lyrics. Usually, Slim sings the reggae portion as his voice is melodious. The rap bit reflects the desperation to break free from monotony.
Their song ‘Power Cut’ is a classic example. It was an outcome of how frequent power cuts dampened the spirits when they were on a video shoot. They have also released an album ‘Kettu Paar’ on SoundCloud comprising a dozen songs. The trailer album on Youtube has generated a lot of interest.
Even today they hire or borrow musical instruments from friends to produce songs and are regulars at New Year shows.
“Madurai has plenty of scope for this kind of music as there are not many here,” says Spice. At present, the group is busy preparing songs for a popular recording label.