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Interviews |  17 Nov 2020 17:37 |  By Tolika Yeptho

Rapper RaOol unleashes Gujarati hip-hop album 'Gujarat Stand Up', Neeti Mohan raps for the first time

MUMBAI: Australia-raised and UK-based composer-rapper RaOol launched debut four-tracked Gujarati EP entitled “Gujarat Stand Up” on the occasion of Navratri 2020.

The first track from the EP titled “Kem Cho” an Urban Gujarati mashup, “Achko Machko” features playback singer Brijesh Shandilya, “Ke Have Have” a collaboration between the queen of Gujarati folk and child prodigy Aishwarya Majmudar and Bollywood playback singer Divya Kumar and the spectacular song “Gujarati Nasha” features Punjabi superstar Jaz Dhami and Bollywood playback Neeti Mohan who's rapping in Gujarati for the very first time.

Check the interview below:

Tell us about your album ‘Gujarat Stand Up’, what is the album consist of and the story behind the album?

It all started back in 2018 when I experimented with a folk Gurba classic that I had grown up listening to back home in Australia. The result was my song ‘Kem Cho’ an Urban Gujarati mashup of the likes that had never really been done before mixing folk and modern EDM/hip hop. When I showed it to the major labels in India, they seemed to dig the sound but when the music stopped, they told me categorically not to release it. They all stressed that I look Punjabi and that I should follow the trend of the Punjabi Music scene - to simply blend in rather than draw attention to my Gujarati Heritage. That’s when I knew I had to do the opposite. So, I released that song independently with zero marketing and organically the song spread like wildfire across Gujarat – which I love reminding the labels about. So, fast-forward to 2020 and I knew I wanted to create 3 more songs to create a full Gujarati based EP and I’m so grateful to feature some incredibly talented and major global/pan Indian names to jump on with me.

This project is Gujarati music reimagined in my way and my first step in bringing Gujarati Hip Hop to the world. Punjab has made its mark, now it’s our time Gujarat Stand Up.

What is the message you are trying to put out with ‘Gujarati Nasha’ and the other songs? Share your experience of shooting and recording during the pandemic?

Being a dry state, Gujarat and Nasha are 2 words that you’d never imagine would go together. But the Nasha in Gujarat is not that which flows like a river or that which goes up in smoke, it’s the Nasha brought on by the beauty of our girls. So, the song is a fun back and forth banter between the boys, Jaz Dhami and I, and Neeti Mohan. Where I’m asking the girl where were your warning signs (Hanikarak Bhari) because from one look you got me drunk in love and she’s saying you’re better off sticking to the high that you know, (tamacu ne daru) because I’m a hangover you can’t handle.

How was it collaborating with other musicians for your album?

The experience was incredible. All the artists heard the sound that I alongside the team, Kathiawadi King, Saurabh Lokhande(Chef SoLow) and Vincent Joceph had created and fortunately were excited to jump on to it. They’re all quintessential professionals and I’m a fan of all their work so for them to join the project was a huge honour and privilege for me as a composer. What was exciting was working with Gujarati Folk/pop Queen Aishwarya Majmudar because to me she is leading the wave of new Gujarati talent. Equally, it was super dope to feature non-Gujarati singers like LA based south Indian singer Pragathi Guruprasad and Punjabi superstar Jaz Dhami as well as playback icons like Neeti Mohan, Divya Kumar, and upcoming star Brijesh Shandilya as well.

Watch here “Kem Cho”:

Watch here “Achko Machko”:

Watch here “Ke Have Have”:

Watch here “Gujarati Nasha”:

Neeti Mohan Raps for the first time in your upcoming song ‘Gujarati Nasha’, tell us something on that?

Neeti is known for being a powerhouse singer, her ability and craftsmanship when it comes to singing needs no introduction. So many of my favourite songs have been sung by her. But what excited me the most was getting her to rap on this song. As a composer and rapper, myself, you listen to not just the melodies and notes but the nakhra, the swag, the feel that a vocalist uses to convey their message, and I knew from listening to Neeti’s performances on other songs, that she could nail it, and she did!

How did you primarily spend your quarantine?

Binge watching Mirzapur and Friends. And then unplugged the TV to go about completing India’s first International Gujarati hip hop album and put the final tweaks on my upcoming solo Hindi EP #Wolfpack Volume 1.