Music

Meet the Chennai-based hip-hop duo Underdogz

Agan and Deveshwaar aka Underdogz

Agan and Deveshwaar aka Underdogz   | Photo Credit: K_Pichumani

Agan and Deveshwaar aka Underdogz see their music as a reflection of what is happening in society

Growing up listening to Tamil rappers like Yogi B and Natchatra, Anbu Ganapathy and Deveshwaar fell in love with rap without even knowing what it was. Until they were introduced to Eminem, they thought rap was just “singing fast with a beat.”

Then in early 2019, the college students from Chennai shared the stage at an open mic event. Since then, they have not only been sharing the stage at every other event, but also releasing a 16-bar rap music video every week, calling it Verse of Da Week on YouTube. Individually, Anbu (known as Agan) is pursuing his MBA at SRM Easwari Engineering College, and Deveshwaar is pursuing sound engineering at Mox Media Academy. Together, they are the Underdogz, and have released three tracks so far, in addition to over a dozen on the YouTube channel A-Gan.

In rap music, a hype man is a backup rapper who supports the primary rapper with exclamations and interjections. Agan says, “We felt we can complement each other’s parts effortlessly and that’s when Underdogz happened.”

They called themselves Underdogz as their themes were different from the mainstream. Most of their songs deal with social realities, while a few are peppered with humour and love. They also experiment in Tamil freestyle and spontaneous rapping at events.

Hip-hop has a strong focus on the message than on musical technicalities. “People should take away something that will change their lives and perceptions. That’s how our songs are written,” says Deveshwaar. Agan shares the story behind his song ‘Ennavillai’: “It is about the struggles women face in this world. I sang it to my sister the night I wrote it, and she was moved to tears. Strong messages form the crux of hip-hop.”

There is a perception that rap is hardcore and has explicit content, but the duo feels that the genre deals with raw experiences. “Hip-hop talks about the realities of our society. The message it conveys has only truth in it, and that is why it is hardcore,” says Deveshwaar. They also say that the explicit words used in rap music are just a spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings. “This is completely different from some genres which objectify women. That should not be done,” he adds.

Underdogz have a lot in store for 2020. They have an EP coming up, featuring six tracks: ‘Vazhkai’ is a poetic outlook on the deeper meaning of life; ‘Dendasoru’, about a person who feels he’s good at something, but a voice within him pulls him down; ‘Feelin’ The Vibe’, a Western rap that wants people to enjoy the moment; ‘Endhan Vazhkai’, a melodic rap about a person who wants to stand out from the crowd; ‘Drop it down’ that talks about how Deveshwaar got introduced to the hip-hop genre; Irrumugam’that narrates the story of a fictional character named Shanmugam, and how he compartmentalises his life.

We live in times when film music is eulogised and indie artists are often sidelined. “We must learn to enjoy good art by any artiste,” says Agan.

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 8:43:03 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/hip-hop-and-happening/article30442646.ece

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