For a 9 a.m. audio launch at Sathyam Cinemas, Hip Hop Tamizhan draws an almost full house.
The crowd sings along, the girls too… never mind that the song contains lyrics that some may find sexist (See Box below)
After the concert, he gets endless requests to pose with fans for pictures. He entertains some, tells the rest he’ll be back soon and sits down for an interview.
Adhi is all of 23 years old.
“I’ve been rapping for the last thirteen years,” he says. “Ever since I heard Michael Jackson’s Jam. That’s how I came to know about rap and I have been rapping gibberish since. I came across hip-hop artistes like KRS One and Jay Z who changed my views on hip hop and I realised that hip hop is not about guns, drugs and violence.”
He made it a point to himself updated through the internet. In 2006, he met Yogi B, Tamil hip hop artiste from Malaysia. “That was when we decided to start our band, Hip Hop Tamizha. Yogi B became our advisor. I had been doing Tamil hip hop since 2002.”
The band stayed underground, happy with their small, niche, cult following.
“Until we were called by the Election Commission to come up with an election anthem… I don’t know how they found us. That song worked magic because we were asked to perform that song for Anna Hazare when he came to the Pachaiyappa’s College grounds. And within 2-3 months, Club Le Mubbule went viral.”
The song has got over four and a half lakh views on Youtube since. “The song was video was put up a day before Kolaveri. It was just a radio performance, an amateur video but it trended for nearly two weeks on Youtube.”
Remy Martin Hip Hop that signs up with hip hop artistes around the world tied up with the band for Hip Hop Tamizhan, launched by Purplenote. And band is all set to launch its own clothing line. Adhi attributes the band’s growth to ‘Club Le Mubbule’.
Adhi just did his first song with Vijay Antony for Naan. “But I am not keen on films. I want to create a parallel space for non-film music.”
That might sound ambitious but not if you consider how far he’s come at such a young age without compromising on his education.
“This is 2012. You have to do everything. My Dad’s a professor. So I know education is very important. If I have my education, if I don’t make it as a rapper, I can always go get a job and come back to rapping later,” says Adhi.
He’s even found a way to make money from his career.
“Yes, I am making money and putting it back into my music. I don’t get money from my Dad. I was born with a silver spoon but I spit it out,” says the boy from Coimbatore, who used to come to Chennai every weekend when he was studying engineering in the Bannari Amman Institute of Technology.
“But after I moved to Chennai to live on my own, I didn’t even have money to go back and visit them. Because I was taking a one-year break from college (between his engineering and MBA), I told my Dad I would do it myself. The first year was difficult,” he admits.
But he kept himself busy building the band.
“My band is always my family. It’s always been the five of us: Me, Triple B, Jeeva, Neal, Siraj. We have been together from the start. And we collaborate with many artistes from around the world. Adhi is just part of Hip Hop Tamizha. The band is bigger than just me.”
The response at concerts was encouraging. Despite the morning launch, students had bunked college to cheer the band. “We did a concert in Coimbatore months ago. Some 3000 people turned up. We did a concert at MIT, 1200 tickets were sold. That’s when we realised we were becoming big and no longer underground.”
Today, as his first album Hip Hop Tamizhan hits the stands, he’s standing tall. On his own feet.
High on a song
“Clubbula Mabbula thiriyara pombala enna di nadakudhu senthamizh naatula? / ladies elaarukum vanakamunga!! Ladies maanam parakudhungA!”
(“Drunk women in nightclubs, what is going on in the land of Senthamizh? / Hello, all you ladies… Ladies, your reputation’s gone”)
“It was first done six years ago when I was 17 or 18, I was in the first year of college. Nobody knew me then. But when we started taking it seriously and doing this as a project about a year ago, we approached radio stations, they helped us and the song went viral.
Today, I realise that I am nobody to tell you can’t drink or you can’t do that. But when I wrote it, I was a kid. I had a different mindset.
It was just a fun pop song. Yes, there’s a bit of my personal ideology there but it’s limited to: Don’t be wannabe. Be proud of who you are. Who cares about the boys. Save the girls. At 17, what do you expect? I am not a bad guy. I love girls. Who does not love girls? But I am not only about that song. I have done songs about alcoholism, education, elections, etc.
There are some girls who have told me they like the song and there are some guys who have told me they don’t agree with the song. To those who like it, Thank you and to those who didn’t, I am sorry if I hurt your feelings.”
P.S: Here’s the reply song to ClubLe Mubbule: The Reply Song