All Access Pass: AO Live x Azadi Records Hip-Hop Showcase
Somesh Chandran · October 12, 2018 · 2 Minute Read
It was a track that served as an indication of things to come. Around 15 minutes past 9, DJ Uri decided it was time to officially kick off proceedings, cranking “Shook Ones Part 2” by New York’s finest, Mobb Deep. AO was Live.
Active since 1987, Uri continued to belt out flat-out classics throughout his solid, consistent set, dropping bangers that were a far cry from his laid back demeanor. “Public Enemy’s – “Terminator X To The Edge of Panic” got the crowd going, and there was no looking back from there. Uri dialed up hit after hit, playing records brimming with style and substance.
Unlike many gigs that take time to create a vibe, on Friday, at Above the Habitat, Mumbai, there was no build-up, no easing into the night. Slick visuals weaved together with hard-hitting verses ensured that the energy in the room was always right, right from the get go.
Hip hop at its finest. Photo: Abner Fernandes.
Uri’s frisky set was followed by a relatively unknown yet extremely talented singer and rapper, who goes by the name of Tienas. The youngster was easily the most eclectic performer of the night, intertwining both raw, rugged flows and introspective melodies with ease. Elements of Eminem and Frank Ocean were visible in his approach, especially on “Fuck That” (prod. Khronos Beats) and “Bombay Blues (Prod. Harrlin K Parulekar).”
Not once did Tienas look out of sorts, despite switching between his jagged and melancholic styles of delivery. A large part of this was down to his nonchalance on stage. His set was consistently punctuated with an active crowd who were enraptured by his ability to paint vivid pictures with his words.
Tienas’ delivery was flamboyant, and the audience went bonkers on several occasions, bobbing their heads to versatile beats. Given his sheer talent, and openness to experimentation, we expect to see a lot more from this talented rapper.
Abhijay Negi (Encore ABJ) and Siddhant Sharma (Calm) were third on the roster, marauding their way onto the stage with swagger and confidence. After a clever exchange, the duo got down to business, living up to their name – “Seedhe Maut.”
No hyperbole. This was as menacing and as underground as it gets. In a relentless performance, the rappers from New Delhi were in their element, delivering a verbal waterfall laced with booming beats.
Their latest track, “Shaktimaan,” got the audience going absolutely nuts. By now, the place was packed and peaking. Their live rendition of “Class Sikh Maut Vol II” saw Prabh Deep jump on stage, producing a heavyweight combined performance.
The irresistible Seedhe Maut. Photo: Abner Fernandes.
Penultimate on the list was Prabh Deep, the most well-known face of Azadi Records. He was in his zone, and so was the jam packed room. Expertly maneuvering his way through his set of hits, his set hit crescendo on “Suno”, a turned-up track that reverberated across and outside the room.
There was never a dull moment as Prabh decided to introduce the audience to some rare, unreleased quality cuts from his stash box. Be assured, some of them will be released soon. After a power-driven performance, he descended from the stage and made way for the final act – Swadesi.
Prabh Deep joins Seedhe Maut on stage.
Led by MC Mawali and MC TodFod, the quartet ran the stage with confidence. If Prabh Deep’s music enthralled the crowd, Swadesi’s verses got them thinking and moving at the same time.
Their tribal beats were hypnotic as they served up some interesting cuts. One that included a track about saving the Aarey Forest in Mumbai’s concrete jungle. With distinctive hooks and eccentric cadences, the talented individuals part of this Mumbai hip hop group fed off each others flow and personality.
Every single artist that took to the stage on Friday displayed ambition and promise. As Indian hip-hop writes its narrative, one thing is crystal clear – It’s open season and the throne is for the taking.
For more Desi Hip-Hop, check out our Timeline.