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Rapperiya Baalam: From Rural Rhythms to National Fame

Emerging from the embryonic folds of rural Rajasthan, Rapperiya Baalam metamorphosed into a celestial beacon within the intricate cosmos of rap, his odyssey a tapestry woven with threads of inspiration and awe

Renowned throughout the nation, Rapperiya Baalam resonates deeply with music fanatics. Nevertheless, Ashok Manda Bishnoi, known by his stage moniker Rapperiya Baalam, embodies the essence of rap culture as a lyricist, composer, and producer. Originating from a humble hamlet nestled within Raisinghnagar tehsil, Sriganganagar district (now Anupgarh district) of Rajasthan, the roots of Rapperiya Baalam lie in the soil of an agricultural legacy. Meanwhile, the trajectory of his life took a profound turn when he ventured to Jaipur for his senior secondary and college education in 2006.

Today, Rapperiya Baalam represents a luminary figure in the rap world, his verses reverberating in Hindi, Rajasthani, and Punjabi. With a repertoire boasting 150-200 songs and numerous albums, the creations of Rapperiya Baalam also have garnered widespread acclaim. Additionally, the compositions of Rapperiya Baalam found resonance in the recent political arena, as various parties incorporated his melodies into their campaigns during the Lok Sabha elections.

Engaging in a candid exchange with senior journalist P. Srinivasan, representing The Interview World, Rapperiya Baalam offers a glimpse into his odyssey as a rapper, delving into his song selection process and elucidating his musical philosophy. Herein lies the crux of his reflections, imparting invaluable wisdom to aspiring artists.

Q: How did your journey unfold into becoming a ‘Rapperiya’?

A: Arriving in Jaipur with aspirations to enroll in the eleventh grade, I got enraptured by the plethora of academic and extracurricular options that lay before me. From the tempting choices of subjects like computer science or fashion design to the vibrant array of co-curricular activities spanning music, sports, and theatre, the city seemed to pulsate with opportunity.

Here, amidst the hustle and bustle of urban life, I encountered a student body remarkably adept in the art of English conversation. This linguistic immersion marked a significant transition for me. Undoubtedly, it transported me from the tranquil confines of my village to the lively streets of the city. The English-speaking milieu resonated with me, stirring a newfound appreciation for the language.

During the annual function, I found myself drawn to the spotlight, participating in a group singing performance that garnered resounding applause from the audience. This outpouring of support ignited a spark within me. Back in my village, the sounds of Punjabi music had been my solace, deeply entrenched in the cultural fabric of the region.

Nurturing a hobby of singing, I also found myself compelled to explore new artistic avenues upon arriving in Jaipur. Inspired by the likes of Bohemia, the Punjabi rap icon, I delved into the realm of lyrical composition, venturing into the realm of rap music.

My journey into performing arts led me to Jawahar Kala Kendra, where I encountered a vibrant community of artists engaged in theatrical endeavors. Subsequently, I crossed paths with Sabir Khan, a seasoned theatre artist and director, whose guidance would prove transformative.

In the presence of luminaries like Irrfan Khan, whose sage advice echoed in my ears – “Follow your passion, and the results will follow” – I got resolute to pursue my artistic inclinations relentlessly.

The intricacies of production became my playground as I delved into the inner workings of studios, witnessing firsthand the alchemy of pre-recording, live performances, and musical fusion. Immersed in this realm of creativity, I aligned with technology, leveraging its capabilities to enhance my musical prowess.

Yet, despite my burgeoning skills, I relied on others for musical accompaniment. It was Aniket Bhaiya, a pianist and mentor, who illuminated the path forward, urging me to master the keyboard and delve into the nuances of music theory.

Armed with newfound knowledge, I embarked on a journey of musical exploration, honing my craft and overcoming stage fright through theatrical performances. The digital landscape beckoned, and I seized the opportunity to share my creative endeavors, uploading a collection of songs to YouTube.

Collaboration became the cornerstone of my artistic evolution, as I joined forces with local talents such as Ravindra Upadhyaya. In 2012, our collective efforts bore fruit with the launch of our debut album, “Maahi Ve,” a testament to our shared passion and dedication. With Kunal Verma‘s lyrical prowess and my musical compositions, supported by the talents of twelve artists, including myself, we embarked on a journey of artistic expression that resonates today.

Q: How did your career trajectory in rap evolve after 2012, leading to your rise to stardom?

A: Indeed, the path was far from straightforward. Challenges loomed large, altering the course of my life. My family’s resistance to my pursuit of singing was formidable. They adamantly steered me towards academia, urging me to secure a stable position in a bank or government office. Despite their wishes, I persisted in my studies, vowing to explore employment opportunities post-graduation.

Meanwhile, my album ‘Maahi Ve’ garnered acclaim, basking in the spotlight of media recognition. The airwaves carried my melodies, painting my family’s television screens with pride. Witnessing my success firsthand during the album launch, their hearts softened, swelling with pride. At last, their approval blossomed, allowing me to pursue my passion for music.

Q: How about Rajasthani? Have you sung in that language too?

A: Back in 2014, I lent my voice to a Rajasthani melody. It was none other than the soulful ‘Mharo Rajasthan’, a single track crafted in honor of Rajasthan Diwas. As a native of Rajasthan, I resolved to serenade in Rajasthani once every year.

The following year, 2015, saw me crooning ‘Desh Padharo Saa’, and in 2016, I enchanted listeners with ‘Hariyala Banna’—a rendition that swiftly spread far and wide, catching the winds of virality.

Inspired by the reception and driven by passion, I charted a course to immerse myself in the world of Rajasthani music. Presently, my endeavors revolve around the enchanting tunes of Rajasthan, weaving melodies that echo the essence of its culture and tradition.

Q: Do you have the freedom to choose the songs you sing and the artists you collaborate with?

A: In the realm of music, my boundaries dissolve into the ether. I sing from the depths of my soul, embracing what resonates within. Our passion thrives in experimentation, intertwining with the creative essence of diverse artists, forming collaborations that ignite the senses.

Q: Recently, your songs were featured in election campaigns. Which political party used your songs?

A: My melodies grace the vast expanse of YouTube, embraced by diverse political factions for their electoral endeavors. Maharashtra echoed with the anthems of Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj, while Rajasthan resonated with the ballads of Maharana Pratap. Amidst the Jat heartland, the spirited tunes of Maharaj Surajmal stirred fervor. From the BJP to the Congress, and even the AAP, my compositions found a place in the arsenal of various political ideologies. Anyone can visit my channel to get a pulse of my raps.

Q: Do you have any rap series dedicated to warriors?

A: Within my repertoire, I curate several series, each devoted to distinct themes. The ‘Shoorveer’ series resonates with the valor of historical figures such as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Maharana Pratap, and Maharaj Surajmal. Contrastingly, the ‘Krantiveer’ series illuminates the fervor of freedom fighters like Chandrashekhar Azad and Bhagat Singh, among others. Venturing further, the ‘Dharamveer’ series embarks on a journey through the annals of ancient religious icons, spotlighting luminaries like Krishna-Meera Bai and Shiva Parvati.

Q: How would you describe your philosophy towards making music?

A: I craft my music with the vision that it resonates with the hearts of the youth and families, inviting them to journey together through its melodies. Rajasthani songs serve as a tether, binding individuals to their origins, and nurturing the flame of tradition and culture. I endeavor to breathe life into the vibrant tapestry of Rajasthani art, culture, and heritage, ensuring its timeless essence thrives through the harmonies I create.

Q: Have you received any offers for international performances recently?

A: Indeed, discussions have commenced, and the prospect of gracing international stages beckons. Imminently, I shall enrapture audiences with my performance prowess on a global scale.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring artists who are just starting?

A: My advice is straightforward: dedicate yourself to hard work—relentless, unwavering, and persistent. Firstly, prioritize completing your formal education. Then, immerse yourself in relentless practice, honing your skills in the musical genre you’re passionate about.

In Rajasthan, zillions of folk artists soar to fame at a tender age, often without formal education. However, as time progresses, many find themselves at a crossroads, grappling with critical decisions and the path forward. This underscores the paramount importance of education, serving as a beacon to illuminate their journey through life.

Q: How likely are you to secure an opportunity in Bollywood?

A: In 2020, my original compositions adorned the cinematic journey of ‘Turtle’, weaving melodies that echoed its tale. This harmonious collaboration culminated in the film’s prestigious national award, a testament to the synergy between music and motion picture.

Rapperiya Baalam Performing at Matsya Utsav Alwar
Rapperiya Baalam Performing at Matsya Utsav Alwar
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