For a 9 a.m. audio launch at Sathyam Cinemas, Hip Hop Tamizhan draws an almost full house. The crowd sings along, the girls too... never mind that the song contains lyrics that some may find sexist. After the concert, he gets endless requests to pose with fans for pictures. He entertains some, tells the rest he’ll be back soon and sits down for an interview. Adhi is all of 23 years old.
“I’ve been rapping for the last thirteen years,” he says. “Ever since I heard Michael Jackson’s ‘Jam’. That’s how I came to know about rap and I have been rapping gibberish since. I came across hip-hop artistes like KRS One and Jay-Z who changed my views on hip hop and I realised that hip hop is not about guns, drugs and violence.”
He made it a point to get himself updated through the Internet. In 2006, he met Yogi B, Tamil hip hop artiste from Malaysia. “That was when we decided to start our band, Hip Hop Tamizha. Yogi B became our advisor. I had been doing Tamil hip hop since 2002.”
The band stayed underground, happy with their small, niche, cult following.
“Until we were called by the Election Commission to come up with an election anthem... I don’t know how they found us. That song worked magic because we were asked to perform that song for Anna Hazare when he came to the Pachaiyappa’s College grounds. And within two-three months, ‘Club Le Mubbule’ went viral.” The song has got over four and a half lakh views on YouTube since. “The video of the song was put up a day before ‘Why this kolaveri’. It was just a radio performance, an amateur video but it trended for nearly two weeks on YouTube.”
Remy Martin Hip Hop that signs up with hip hop artistes around the world tied up with the band for Hip Hop Tamizhan, launched by Purplenote. And the band is all set to launch its own clothing line. Adhi attributes the band’s growth to ‘Club Le Mubbule’.
Adhi just did his first song with Vijay Antony for Naan . “But I am not keen on films. I want to create a parallel space for non-film music.” That might sound ambitious but not if you consider how far he’s come at such a young age without compromising on his education. “This is 2012. You have to do everything. My dad’s a professor. So I know education is very important. If I have my education, if I don’t make it as a rapper, I can always go get a job and come back to rapping later,” says Adhi.
He’s even found a way to make money from his career. “Yes, I am making money and putting it back into my music. I don’t get money from my father. I was born with a silver spoon but I spat it out,” says the boy from Coimbatore, who used to come to Chennai every weekend when he was studying engineering at the Bannari Amman Institute of Technology.
“But after I moved to Chennai to live on my own, I didn’t even have money to go back and visit them. Because I was taking a one-year break from college (between his engineering and MBA), I told my father I would manage myself. The first year was difficult,” he admits.
But he kept himself busy building the band. “My band is my family. It’s always been the five of us: Me, Triple B, Jeeva, Neal, Siraj. We have been together from the start. And we collaborate with many artistes from around the world. Adhi is just part of Hip Hop Tamizha. The band is bigger than me.”
The response at the concert was encouraging. Despite the morning launch, there were a lot of college students who had turned up to cheer the band. “We did a concert in Coimbatore months ago. Some 3,000 people turned up. We did a concert at MIT, 1,200 tickets were sold. That’s when we realised we were becoming big and no longer underground.”
As his first album Hip Hop Tamizhan hits the stands, he’s standing tall. On his own feet.