Rapper RaOol dropped his Gujarati EP last year, titled ‘Gujarati Stand Up’ and he’s been receiving much praise for it, having worked with a number of well-known names for it.
Positioned as India’s first Gujarati Hip Hop compilation, the record combined the musical aptitude of exceptional artists from across four continents and hailing from diverse musical backgrounds. RaOol collaborated with Brijesh Shandilya, Pragathi Guruprasad, Gujarati folk and child prodigy Aishwarya Majmudar, Bollywood playback singer Divya Kumar, British-Indian singer-songwriter Jaz Dhami, who made his debut in Gujarati, singing with Bollywood songstress Neeti Mohan, who was also heard rapping in Gujarati for the very first time.
BizAsiaLive.com caught up with the rapper to talk about the EP and his overall musical journey.
‘Gujarati StandUp’ released in November 2020. What’s been the reaction you’ve been getting?
The response from the industry and more importantly the fans has been so incredible – and not just from Gujarati’s! It has been shared by legendary artists and producers from the UK and Punjab, A-playlisted on many radio stations globally including the BBC Asian Network and all the videos have amassed 3 million organic views on YouTube. The best part was that all the major labels in India told me that Gujarati Hip-Hop would never work. They all stressed that I look Punjabi and that I should follow the trend of the trending Punjabi Music scene – to simply blend in rather than draw attention to my Gujarati Heritage. It’s been a thrill proving all of them wrong and that’s all thanks to my team, the amazing featured artists and especially the fans!
You collaborated with Neeti Mohan, Aishwarya Majumdar, Divya Kumar, Jaz Dhami and Birjesh Shandilya for the EP. How confident were you that this variety of talents would come together to create a memorable EP?
All of these artists were my first choice for each of the 4 songs on the EP, and I was extremely confident in their ability to deliver on them should they agree to be on them. I knew they could do it, I just didn’t know that they would. As a music director you only make the best songs you know how, that are true to you and that you genuinely like. I definitely feel grateful, humbled and lucky that I got my artist Wishlist and that when i played each of them the songs, they all loved the vibes. And they all nailed it, just like I knew they would!
Who were you personally most surprised by out of those talented people?
I was surprised by all of them for various reasons. Jaz Dhami’s Gujarati pronunciation was so dope that my mum literally said ‘beta I think his Gujarati might be better than yours!!’ haha And we all know how incredible Neeti is at singing but her swag when she rapped was definitely impressive!
You’ve created a niche for yourself in the industry. Do you always try to incorporate the British vibes into the projects you do and how do you do that?
British vibes are what I’ve grown up to: Be it Reggae like UB40, The Police, Apache Indian or Electro legends like The Prodigy, or Bhangra like Stereo Nation and Panjabi MC. I have a natural affinity to those Western melodies and it just comes through with my music. It’s almost an unconscious effort. I find that I focus more on lyrics and let them guide other musical element like melodies and beats.
How important is it to you to incorporate your influences in your music?
I think when you try to do things you can end up forcing music, and that’s never a good thing. Overtime I’ve learnt that the best music I can make is when I simply am true to myself and do what comes easy and naturally to me. I’m a UK Born, Australian, whose parents come from Africa and I’m equally very proud of my Indian and Gujarati heritage. So I simply let all of that come through in my music.
What do you have coming up in 2021?
I’m dropping my debut Hindi project, #Wolfpack Vol. 1 in a few months containing 5 songs. The next single from that project, called AYO, releases 4th February and is my personal all time favourite track! It features production from award winning multi platinum US based producer DJ Pain 1 whose credits include 50 Cent, Rick Ross, Ludacris, Public Enemy and recently Russ and incredible UK based producer NaamLess. With a story of a love triangle at its core, the concept of the song is a relatable one in the lead up to valentines with its key theme of ‘he doesn’t love you like I do’. This EP is just the beginning. Apart from this EP, I promise to release a song every 30 days – one a month for 12 months straight. I need to get all these songs off my laptop and to the people. This has got to be Year of the Wolf.
BizAisaLive.com thanks RaOol for taking the time to talk to us.