This week, we have with us one of the most renowned rap artists in the country and who’s grabbing all the headlines with his latest single “Let Em Talk”, it’s none other than Vighnesh Shivanand a.k.a Brodha V!
Enjoy our exclusive chat with Brodha V. Uncensored. Uncut. Unedited.
ED Times : Brodha V as a name is well-known and unique. Please do share some insight behind your name and why you chose it?
Brodha V : I came with this name when I first started off rapping. I used to text battle on internet platforms initially and I had no ‘”stage name”. I thought I needed one when I decided to make rap music and step out of rap battles.
I wanted to make songs. I was very much inspired by old school rap and I’d constantly listen to rap music from the early 90’s. I was heavily inspired by 2Pac. At that point, most rap songs were about uplifting the African American community, the ghetto and they all spoke of brotherhood.
I wanted to inspire people and bring them together and have my music represent brotherhood too. So, I decided to go with the “Brodha” and added the “V” from my actual name – Vighnesh.
ED Times : What inspired you to pursue rap music?
Brodha V : I was a frustrated teenager. I was mostly depressed and angry. There were times I’d get bullied or be discriminated for being a broke kid among all other rich kids around me. I’d be ridiculed for the kind of clothes I wore, for which I now take partial responsibility, as my sense of fashion was pathetic.
I wasn’t getting the kind of grades my cousins were getting. So, I was angry pretty much all the time. I felt like I was different and I had different interests in life. I used to write my own short stories, just for myself. I’d write about anything and everything I felt. I wanted to voice out my opinions. Rap music was that outlet.
It felt so relieving every time I rapped about how I felt, rather than just talking to people about it.
The need to tell my story to people and see if there were others that felt like me, was what made me start making rap music in the first place.
ED Times : And how would you describe journey from underground to commercial music?
Brodha V : It’s definitely been hard. When I started rapping, there was nobody else doing this. I was probably the only rapper in my city. So, even my friends didn’t take me seriously. Heavy metal and Rock N Roll were the cool things back then.
Most musicians would form a rock band and play college festivals and get popular. But nobody was ready for a rap artist.
None of the college festival organizers knew how a rapper would even perform on stage. No drums, no guitars, no keyboards, how was I even gonna perform?
Although, rap music was very popular around this time. People were very familiar with the hip-hop hits playing on TV and radio. But the very few guys who were even rapping were either very fake or pretentious. Everybody was trying to act like they grew up all their lives in New York.
So, it took a while to slowly figure my sound, to be able to fuse rap music with Indian Classical/Folk Music and get people’s attention.
Then, I went on to make my own basic music videos that went viral. Slowly started getting calls to rap for movies and play shows. So, things changed for the better over a period of time. But I still wouldn’t call myself a commercial artist.
I’m not a superstar rapper who is a household name or anything. I’m a successful independent rapper that figured a way out to do the kind of music he likes and still make good money. I still have a long way to go.
ED Times : Whom would you consider as your mentor(s) in the field of music?
Brodha V : I never had anybody to look up to locally. Most of my mentors I would say were some of the rap legends I grew up listening to. Rakim, 2Pac, Eminem, Nas, Big L, Big Pun, Biggie Smalls, etc. I used to sit and watch their videos and listen to their songs everyday. I would write down their lyrics on sheets of papers and try reciting them along with the song. That’s how I learnt to pronounce words clearly in English.
I also did not know anybody from the music or film industry. So, help and guidance were out of the question. It took me a lot of networking and trial and errors to get things right, after which I got the attention of some big names from the industry but then again, not everybody can help you achieve your dreams.
They may reduce the hurdles but you still have to jump over them all by yourself.
ED Times : You’re one of the few artists who are never involved in controversies. How do you manage to stay unfazed by all the hype?
Brodha V : I guess I’m not just famous enough. All I ever do is speak my mind out, both in my songs and on my social media pages.
If I were a Shah Rukh Khan and waved at people with my right hand, I’d probably be in the news for being anti left-handed. But it’s good in a way. Lesser controversy, more peace.
ED Times : What are your thoughts on the hip-hop/rap scene of Bangalore in comparison to cities like New Delhi or Mumbai?
Brodha V : They all have very different scenes in my opinion. I think Delhi and Punjab is going solid with the commercial punjabi/bhangra hip hop. They do pretty well in Bollywood as well. Mumbai has a very gritty, street vibe.
Mumbai probably has the most number of active rappers in a single city in India. Whereas, Bangalore has few rappers but the rappers from this city are ones who have made it to wherever they are all by themselves.
A Delhi or a Mumbai rapper has all the media attention. Be it movies, magazines, blogs and documentaries. Delhi and Mumbai is everybody’s first two choices.
So, rappers in these two cities get a lot more media and social media coverage. Whereas, in Bangalore, all you have is your talent, a studio and the internet. You’ve definitely got lesser contacts, lesser people running big channels and stations in Bangalore.
So, if you are from Bangalore and manage to get big and be known nationwide, it’s because you’ve struggled a lot, been through a lot of failures and eventually figured out things all by yourself, which in turn makes you a hard and a smart worker.
ED Times : Coming to work, whom would you rate as the top 3 rap/hip-hop artists in India, right now? (not the mainstream ones)
Brodha V : I’d love to add my name in this list, but I’ll exclude myself. I’ll go with 1) Divine 2) BigDeal and 3) Naezy
ED Times : The mainstream Indian rappers like Baadshah and Raftaar often receive a lot of flak for their approach to their music. What are your thoughts on that?
Brodha V : It is always a choice. You can’t impress everybody. You make it big to a point because of your hardcore fans. But then there comes a point in your life where you are given the opportunity to make A LOT of money. Most people would take that up. It helps you stay financially secure for a very long time.
Your true, hardcore fans are definitely going to be let down as you don’t make music for them anymore, but what they don’t realize is that it is a skill to write or sing or rap or compose the simplest things and have everybody in the country singing to those tunes. It is a path the artist decides to take for the betterment of his life.
ED Times : You were a part of the renowned rap-group MWA (Machas With Attitude, along with Smokey The Ghost and Bigg Nikk). Why did the group go on a hiatus and are there any chances of a re-union?
Brodha V : Everybody from the crew decided to pursue their own individual careers. We started off young, but at this point we all have our own individual goals and our own different ways of working. We’re all friends, though. So, there could be a re-union someday.
ED Times : And a total fanboy question : When are you coming for a show in Delhi?
Brodha V : I’m coming there in May and I can guarantee that Delhi wouldn’t have seen something like this till date. I’m going to be in Delhi as a part of my India tour.
ED Times : Amazing! Here’s hoping for a stellar show!
Moving to the next question, in addition to being an exceptional talent in the studio, have you ever considered free-styling at rap battles? Also, what are your thoughts on India’s battle rap scene?
Brodha V : I started off with battles. I used to “text battle” on Orkut. That is how it all started. But now, I’ve gone so deep into the world of music, I’m more keen on expanding myself as an all round musician, that is, composing, production, singing, etc.
That’s a whole new ball game and that’s a bigger challenge for me. India’s battle rap scene is slowly developing. I don’t follow it as often, but I liked whatever I saw. So, more power to them.
ED Times : That’s nice to hear. Your favorite hip-hop music producers from India?
Brodha V : There are barely any Hip Hop producers in India. The only two guys I know who do a great job are Sez and Stunnah Beatz.
Brodha V : It’s been the same. I just make it a point to be honest to myself while I’m writing and performing my songs. Because I know that if the music I did came from my heart, it’ll find its audience and it will be remembered by them for a long long time.
ED Times : Please share a crazy incident which happened between you and fan of yours.
Brodha V : It was this one time where a fan asked me for an autograph but he didn’t have a paper or a notepad. He quickly took out a 500 Rupee note because that was the first thing that came to his hand and asked me to sign. I tried denying but he kept insisting. I signed his 500 Rupee note and he tore it in half immediately. He kept the half that contained my autograph and threw the other one way and told me that it was because he wanted to keep it forever and not spend it on anything ever.
ED Times : And finally, any message to aspiring/upcoming rappers and to the readers of ED Times?
Brodha V : Always believe in yourself. Do not quit, work hard and spread love.
And that’s a wrap, folks! Thanks to Brodha V for the amazing interview and you guys can tune in for more such interviews on ED Times Originals, Friendly Fridays!
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