"I’ve got more chains than Bappi Lahiri in a prison."
Shah Rule is a rising star within India’s hip-hop scene and is coming off the release of his debut EP, Hooked.
The 28-year-old, whose real name is Rahul Shahani, described Indian hip-hop as a “pyramid”.
He elaborated: “There are a few guys at the top and then [the field] keeps growing as you go down.
“There are people still struggling to find their place, or their managers; some are still trying to figure what they want to talk (read as: rap) about.
“I started when I was 13 and only in the last three years have I figured what it is I want to talk about.”
Shah was born in Hong Kong, raised in Moscow, educated in London and now lives in Mumbai.
His diverse background has provided an opportunity to build his lyricism, but he chooses to take a simple path in his quest to craft his signature beats.
Shah told The Hindu: “DIVINE says this a lot, that the simplest line gets the job done.
“You don’t need literary devices or metaphors to say a simple verse.”
Renowned Indian rapper DIVINE and four other artists feature on Hooked and it is simple rhymes that define his EP.
Shah added: “Humour is something that gets people going.
“So I always try to find the most funniest references… like ‘I’ve got more chains than Bappi Lahiri in a prison’.”
The majority of India’s hip-hop is influenced by Punjabi beats. However, Shah Rule prefers to have a balance between mainstream sounds and “what hardcore hip-hop heads prefer”.
Shah, who appeared in Ranveer Singh’s Gully Boy, explained:
“All my songs have some commercial value so that it can go beyond radio and the club.”
“I grew up on pop music so I want to make songs that people would love to sing but, at the same time, I also love lyricism and putting intelligent rhymes, metaphors and similes.”
Hooked has R&B influences and the songs are themed around the “perks and perils of social media”.
Shah revealed that he came up with the title when he noticed his “abnormal obsession for the screen” during a recording session.
The EP has five featured artists, but collaborations can have challenges, especially when it comes to communicating ideas.
But Shah Rule said he had no such problems.
“Of course, I needed the right voices and people that speak the right messages.
“The EP was made during the first lockdown last year, so sitting with each producer or artiste was not possible although that is what I would have preferred.
“Fortunately, I have worked with most of the artistes before and even the few I haven’t, I can send them a beat and they deliver what I need.
“It really is about trusting the collaborator and giving them room to explore so that they can give it their all.”
Despite the EP being made in 2020, it did not release until April 28, 2021, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Shah Rule added: “It was a long wait; the EP was delayed quite a bit due to the pandemic but everything happens for a reason.
“I am trying to bring positivity and educate people through my music.
“If it even allows anyone to escape this current predicament for two minutes, then my job is done.”