In a country where rock bands enjoy immense popularity, a group of rap musicians from Mumbai are seeking to bring change through “Tamil electro music.” They call themselves the Sout Dandy Squad, and while they’re essentially rappers, they’re also self-taught DJs and perform hip-hop, krump and freestyle dance.
Suresh aka Sean (20), a Dharavi resident, brought the group together six years ago to change people’s outlook towards ghettos. “I dislike it when people refer to us as a group from Dharavi,” says Sean, who co-writes lyrics and compositions for the eight-member band. “Music is the greatest weapon, and through it we want to change perceptions.”
Change is also the theme of the group’s first album, Respect or Hate. The 15-song album deals with issues like the 26/11 attacks and recycling, and features English songs with a smattering of Tamil words. This is also their foray into composing rap in every Indian language. “It’s not difficult for us. Rock musicians have their way; this is ours,” says Surya aka RaU (24).
Sout Dandy Squad has performed live for BBC at Ambedkar College and also jammed with American rap group Timbaland Productions and Apache Indian. They’ve also composed a song for Quick Gun Murugan, called Ragamuffin Mix, through which they got “creative satisfaction”.
They believe that rap music should highlight the issues that people are facing. “American gangsta rap brings out the problems their country faces. We’re doing the same thing, minus the bad habits,” Sean says. The group is now looking out for record labels that share their beliefs. “Until then, we’ll keep the compositions going!” says Sean.