Abhilash Singh a.k.a. AB on the reality of being a rapper in India
Hip-hop is an universal language that knows no bounds. It reaches as far as india, where Guwahati rapper Abhilash Singh usurps the mic to deliver rap hymns full of hard-won rhyme and rhythm. Starting young, he’s been dedicating himself to the craft for a long time and has many interesting things to share about the reality of being a rapper in India. Read this illuminating interview to get what the man is all about!
Hello, Abhilash! Tell the world about yourself! How did you grow up to become the rapper you are today?
Hey. I’m AB. Real name, Abhilash Singh. I’m from Guwahati, Assam, India. I rep this city. It has given me a lot to learn from. I initially wanted to be professional wrestler. But around 2012, my goal changed from being a 10 time World champion, to a 10 time Grammy winner. I was first introduced to rap back in 2006 or ’07. That was the first time my cousin showed me the video to Linkin Park’s “In The End” music video. It took the Real Slim Shady to bring me into this game. At around 2011, another cousin gave me the song “Not Afraid” & “Love The Way You Lie” by Eminem. I was really into it. I was fascinated by it. And that’s when I decided that I wanna be a rapper, for real. I started writing rhymes & rapping in 2013 and haven’t stopped since.
Introduce your current musical projects and tell us what makes each one special for you!
I always try to experiment with the music that I put out. Like, I always try and see what kind of music do the people appreciate. I try to find out what kind of beat, flow, lyrics, etc., draws more people towards my music. I’m always doing something or another related to music. There is no definite “current” project. To be honest, what I think makes my music special ‘for me’, is that I speak my heart out on the track. Like, I always try to write down what is really going on in my mind, or what I’m really feeling like at the moment. People often misinterpret what I’m trying to say and that is something that I really wanna conquer. I want people to understand the core message that I’m trying to convey through my music.
How’s the rap and hip-hop scene in India and how is your local scene? Do you feel like you belong there?
Though there are a few decent rappers in India, I don’t think there is much scope for us to get shows, or get signed to a label or something. We just don’t get enough exposure. The only option we’re left with is social media. What I really want to see is more exposure and opportunities for underground artists as a whole, not just rappers. I understand the fact that I need to get outta this place to really be something. But I do feel that I belong in this place. This is my home. No matter where I am established, this city is where I’m gonna come back to.
What inspires you to write lyrics?
The anger, the frustration, the inability to do something for my family, looking at my wallet and seeing it empty, all the people that have stabbed me in the back at my lowest… I guess that’s what truly inspires me to write what I write. Also, I wanna teach these new-school mumblers how it’s really done. That’s another reason I get on the mic!
What us your dream posse you’d love to collaborate with?
Eminem. On the top. Then I guess I’d like to collab with Kendrick Lamar, J Cole, Lil Dicky, Dre, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, and maybe Ice Cube. There are too many! Haha.
What are your favorite software and hardware tools for music production?
I currently use FL Studio and Cubase to produce and mix my songs. I don’t have a home studio though. But the studios that I’ve used use MXL and Rode mics, and so far I’ve got pretty good results.
Out of all the live shows you played, which one was the most memorable, and why?
Well, I’ve only performed at one show, which was charity show for young people like me. It feels really nice when they cheer and bop their heads to the beat. And being able to entertain and see a smile on their faces felt really good.
What is your biggest musical goal?
Well, I have three goals. First, I wanna be heard, known and acknowledged by the majority. Second, I wanna be able to put money in my parents’ hands. They’ve done a lot to raise me and make me the man I am today. And third, I wanna start a record label based in my city, and give a chance to those who don’t get heard!
How has being on Drooble helped you as a musician?
Sites like Drooble and the others give us the minimal exposure that we require to boost our confidence and help us keep going. Most artists give up when they see that no one is listening to them Drooble helps us with that. It also helps us connect with other musicians which is great. Chances of future collaborations, groups, etc., which is awesome. I, personally, have got a lot of help from the community. I got answers to the questions I had about production and engineering music.