I wouldn’t say I have an elephant’s memory, except when remembering lyrics of Bollywood songs, old and new. But one of my favourite genres is hip-hop; I find a different thrill in rapping to the groovy beats, especially repeating the hook line with as much passion, if not more, as the artist.
When it comes to popular rap music in India, there is no one other than Badshah who I can think of, within my recent memory, for giving some of the most terrific rap songs and memorable hook lines to Bollywood.
After he first rose to fame with his debut single DJ Waale Babu in 2015, there’s been no looking back for this ‘hit-maker’. From Wakhra Swag (early popular song) to Players (most-recent hit), he has been reigning the Bollywood music space with his relatable lyrics and sexy beats for over 10 years.
As for now, we are excited to see him be a part of Royal Stag Boombox, a one-of-a-kind experience that has a host of singers and composers collaborating to create a new soundscape by bringing together Bollywood and hip-hop music genres.
The lyrics of Jugnu play in my head as I prepare myself for a chat with the talented rapper, singer, composer. In an exclusive interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Badshah spoke about the importance of a hook line, the cornerstone of entertainment and much more.
Harper’s Bazaar: Let’s talk about the Royal Stag Boombox and what it represents. What according to you makes the combination of Bollywood and hip-hop such a good one?
Badshah: Both are music. They are like different colours on the same pallete that will probably give a great outcome when mixed. It’s simple. You get some of the most prominent artists from both genres and let their creative juices flow. You never know what beautiful things it may lead to.
The collaboration is as challenging as exciting as we will all step out of our territories into the others’, bringing a little bit of Badshah to an Amit Trivedi or a Dino James composition.
HB: How important do you think is a hook line in songs these days? Is remembering that one best line of a song, all that matters today?
Badshah: A song’s hook etches it in your memory—it can be the music, a word, or an entire line. My music-making process has probably changed; I’ve moved on from creating just a great hook. The whole song matters to me; all those 180 to 240 seconds are important.
HB: As a singer and composer, what do you think should listeners remember more; the hook line or the song?
Badshah: The song is your baby; you would always want them to remember your song.
HB: Does a hook line have to be more popular or more meaningful? How do you strike a balance?
Badshah: Both. I let my common sense do its work.
HB: Is short-form content going viral on social media (reels etc.) a major reason why artists come up with a hook line?
Badshah: Reels have become popular now. But consider a song like Jooma Chumma De De or Saat Samundar; had these been released recently, they would also make popular reel tracks. I do not understand the phenomena, and I don’t want to try to; it’s not my job. I am a music creator, not a social media creator. They do a great job of taking the correct, sensational part of the song and my job is to make the song. It would have been nice if I had the knowledge to do it.
HB: Do you think of a hook step before you come up with the hook line? What do you have to keep in mind when writing a song?
Badshah: Back in the day, songs were made only to be heard. The videos came in later, and then it became a norm to have a video for every song. Dance and music will be the cornerstone of entertainment, and when the two come together, it immensely helps the music industry.
HB: How much does fashion play a role in the songs that you make?
Badshah: I don’t think my fashion sense has anything to do with my music. My clothes and songs are an extension of my personality. I do not consciously choose a particular brand, and I don’t hop on a trend to wear a suit or co-ords. I wear what I like, and that’s me.