If you are a fan of Indian hip-hop, you will be familiar with the name, Raftaar. However, what many might not know about the lyricist, producer, composer, singer, rapper and dancer — whose real name is Dilin Nair, by the way — is that he is a Malayali. On March 6, he will perform at Mumbai’s Ballard Estate Festival, powered by Hindustan Times and organised by Ferriswheel Entertainment. Here, he talks about his differences with Yo Yo Honey Singh, and more.
Was it difficult to fit into the hip-hop scene in India as it has such strong Punjabi influences?
Hip-hop started off down south. There was an artist named Iraj who launched a Tamil album called Bombay Bronx. Later, hip-hop caught the attention of Punjabis. It so turned out that Punjabi hip-hop was easier to understand by the masses; they could also relate the flashy attitude of Punjabis to hip-hop culture. As a result, Punjabi hip-hop caught on, unlike the south Indian version. That is the truth. Now, hip-hop is more about Punjabi lifestyle. I was born in Thiruvananthapuram, but after about two years, I moved to the north. All my friends were Haryanvis and Punjabis. I stayed in a hostel in Haryana for two years. I would listen to everything that people were saying, and caught on quickly. So now, Haryanvi comes naturally to me. If you ask me to rap in Malayalam, I might have to take some time to write something.
Hip-hop lyrics often objectify women, and rappers are criticised for that. What do you have to say about this?
There are some things you do for your stomach and others that you do for your brain. I have written songs like Mother Nature, which was actually for Al Gore (American environmentalist). It was for a climate summit. Now that song didn’t catch on, because who wants to listen to a track about nature in a club? So, sexism is necessary. We make music that sells. Having colloquial words, like ‘daaru’ (alcohol), is important. People are busy working, and after a long day, who wants to pay attention to serious lyrics?
Listen to Mother Nature here
You had your differences with Honey Singh in the past…
We were not able to resolve our problems with each other. I was struggling and hurt, but I got back at him with songs like Swag Mera Desi. Now, I realise that I have made a name for myself, and I don’t need to fight anymore. Now, I wish him a speedy recovery, and hope that he comes back as competition needs to exist in the market. I wrote so many songs for him, and never got credit for them. We helped each other in many ways. Honey Singh has helped me by being my opposition. Because there has to be a comparison. There is no fun in politics if there is no Rahul Gandhi opposing Narendra Modi.
Listen to Swag Mera Desi here
Follow @htshowbiz for more