Mumbai boy Sahir Doshi is trying to initiate a breakthrough in the Indian Hip-Hop scene. And he's just 16. FYI waited for him to get back from school to chat with him about why he raps in Marathi, Hindi and Swahili
He ain't a wack dude, but a bag of chips and all that, his rhyming is phat and an attitude to match.
If that doesn't sound right to you, you are absolutely right. It's far from right, because rapping and Hip-Hop sure isn't easy, even though 16 year-old Sahir Doshi makes it look effortless. "You don't learn how to rap. Either you have it, or you don't," says the student of The Cathedral & John Connon School, Fort.
And although you notice his Hip-Hop garb, complete with knee-length shorts and a pee cap, what you end up going back impressed with is his ability to converse like an adult. "What do you mean? I am not a child," shrugs the aspiring rapper, in a mock-angry tone. If his rhymes about upliftment of the poor and Mumbai's tragic state are anything to go by, you will end up agreeing with him.
Just back from a brain-numbing day at school, packed with classes and sport matches, Sahir may look the part of a cool rapper, but he doesn't want you to mistake him for a "blinger". "Old school Hip-Hop is about so much more than that. It's about raising issues," he says.
The only time you see the teen in him creeping out is when the mention of his music crops up. Sahir, whose single Rize (written and sung in Swahili) created waves on the Kenyan and Ugandan charts, is excited about how aamchi Mumbai will react to his music. "I have family in Uganda and have been visiting them since I was a kid. The Hip-Hop scene there is really mad everyone is a fan. Three years ago, I realised my penchant for Hip-Hip. So, when Steve Jean, one of Uganda's biggest producers was keen to produce my song, I was thrilled."
But it took more that that for his music to make waves in a country that's still alien to CDs, where music is heard only on radio and TV. Finally, daily trips to radio stations and dogged persistence paid off, and through a lucky twist of fate, Sahir ended up performing at a ghetto concert in Kampala, that made him a mini-celebrity overnight. "That was such a great experience. There were these ghetto lords who loved the song; you'll see them in my video. If the rude boys love your music, they will support it unconditionally," says the young rapper, who picked up Swahili while hanging out with his peeps in Uganda. "I wanted the people of Uganda to identify with my song. There are so many Indians in Uganda, but they don't associate with the locals. There's bad blood. I wanted to create a meeting ground."
Sahir's lucky streak didn't end there. The teen artist hit gold when he got a chance to appear alongside Senegalese-American R&B singer-songwriter Akon, at a charity event. "That was a massive break! Akon was not even scheduled to stay for my performance. But he did and he was on his feet, waving his hands to my song! It was unbelievable."
Next on his agenda is to try and release Rize and the other songs he has written, including one in Marathi where he sings "Ala Ala Pausa" with an oh-so cool swagger. "In India, Hip-Hop is about songs by 50 Cent and Usher, that have been playing in clubs for an eternity. I am not here to ride the curve, but to create it," he signs off.