Indian underground rapper-turned-hiphop sensation Vivian Fernandes aka Divine was recently in the city with his Gully Gang, to perform at Phoenix MarketCity. The rapper speaks to MetroPlus about life after the film Gully Boy, his Gully Gang Entertainment venture, Kohinoor and a lot more. Edited excerpts from an interview:
Tell us about Gully Gang Entertainment
It consists of a bunch of like-minded guys who love hiphop. We’re trying to build a bridge which will make it easy for artists like me and those coming up in the coming generation to have a platform, and to just make noise.
We have a bunch of guys. Shahrule from Gully Gang played with me in Chennai recently. It’s just music that we love. I have been a fan of hiphop forever. As an artist I have to take responsibility when I have the platform to give back, and that’s why we made Gully Gang Entertainment.
Is it region-specific or are you working with artists around India?
It is region-specific right now because I like to chill with my artists more. I like to be with them and talk to them because it works better like that. When we have the bandwidth, we will go outside. But now we want to keep it close and personal.
Are you aware of the rap scene in Chennai?
The only link I have with the rap scene here is the Madurai Soljour. We collaborated on a track for a project with Puma. This was two years ago, and it was mad fun. We shot a video and all the three guys are really cool.
How do you think the regional rap scene will grow in India?
It will always be there. It’s a tool that you can’t stop. I think that Chennai and the South is always making noise. But the way we have Bollywood, they too have their own music industries which are hard to cut through.
The main thing is to keep doing it and it cuts through at a certain point of time. I’m from Bombay where Bollywood literally lives. But we still cut through because it’s a sound and art form that you cannot deny. I think patience is the key.
Do you prefer Bollywood to making albums?
I’d prefer making albums any day. It is because there are very few movies that might fit my song in, or I might be sounding good on. It’s a very tricky thing to do. Gully Boy was a movie where my songs fit in properly. It was a movie about a Bombay guy who is trying to rap and that’s why it fit so well.
But apart from that, they usually use rap as a filler. They use it for all of 45 seconds. And that shouldn’t be what rap is.
That’s why I concentrate on making my own music and albums. Every artiste should start making their own music rather than doing playback for Bollywood or movies because then it becomes a habit and you forget your own music.
How do you think the topics that you speak about have evolved?
My topics and songs keep evolving because my life is changing every day. I don’t talk like I used to four years ago. It comes with experience and time. That’s why I want to take it slow. I want to make music for a long time. I’m not jumping the gun. Aaram se (no hurries).
I used to speak about my life growing up a lot. I think I have covered most of it. Now I’m speaking about how I’m evolving. From growing up in the street to making myself into something and doing something with my life. Taking a route where I’m trying to give back. Bringing my team with me. Pushing as a team and trying to achieve whatever I dreamt of.
Tell us about your album ‘Kohinoor’
Kohinoor means ‘mountain of light’: it is not about the diamond that is in London. It was an album that was very special to me. I wanted to call it something which makes sense. I think ‘Mountain of light’ is just right. If you’ve heard the album, it’s a mixture of everything.
What do you feel about the Oscar nominations?
It’s a huge thing. I think Gully Boy was a very good movie and we shouldn’t regret that it didn’t get through. Like I can make better music, I think we can make better movies too. Zoya Akhtar is a mind blowing director. Her next movie might be one for the Oscars.
‘Junglee Sher’ was your first single. How do you feel about ‘Kohinoor’ as compared to that?
My voice has changed. My life has changed. Both are very different tracks. But I love them both.
How different is rapping in English and a regional language?
There’s more reach when you rap in your regional language. You’re more expressive and direct. Plus the accent plays a big role. How you ride on a beat plays a huge role. It’s a very technical thing. Regional languages make it very expressive, catchy and relateable.