Cover of the album “Hip Hop Jaati”. Inset: Shib-B
Although hip hop has been introduced in Bangladesh for around a decade, it would be a while before we can say that it's taken a footing in the country. However interest in this field of music is growing cumulatively as people, mostly in their teens and twenties are keen on rap or beats. Two hip hop crews are releasing their albums this month.
Zax, Skylls, Grand T and Ady of T.O.R. talked about their latest album "Hip Hop Jaati"
Grand T: "It took us six months to complete this album.
"When we formed T.O.R. all we had in mind was to create quality music, bringing out an album was not our primary goal.
"In mid-2009 the crew was approached by Deadline Music to record an album."
Skylls: "T.O.R. was formed by Ady and I in 2005. Later Zax was recruited. Our sheer energy and rush for music made us call ourselves 'Thugs On Roids'.
"In 2007 T.O.R. appeared in Bangladeshi hip hop scenario and that's when Grand T (the first rapper to do an international collaboration from Bangladesh) joined us.
“In mid-2009 we started recording our first album 'Hip Hop Jaati' and changed the name of our crew to 'Theology Of Rap'."
Ady: "Music is the glue that held us in the first place, it is something that will hold us together no matter where we are.
"We are all in our early 20s so education is our priority. Skylls has been in the UK since 2008, but we've managed to finish recording our first album. It has become easier to create music these days; one does not have to be physically present to give his/her takes. They can record their parts and email it."
Zax: "Our debut album has 13 tracks, including one 'Intro' and 'Outro'. As some of our mates have moved abroad, we are not jamming much these days.
“For a year all we did was slog for this album so now we are taking it easy and sitting back."
It isn't uncommon that most rappers have to go through some ordeal in order to establish themselves. Such is the story of Shib-B aka Shihab and Sharod Norwester of APD. The crew talked about their recent album "Desh Project: Neel Noksha".
Shib-B: "I formed the crew over two years ago with some others and there were a lot of complications which is typical of hip hop in Bangladesh. There were of course a lot of struggles; still are. Sharod joined later and till now its just the two of us.
"We frequently face trouble because of the 'gangster' attitude associated to hip hop. Some of my favourite people moved away from me because of this. They prefer to know me as 'Shihab' and not Shib-B. But then again, that's also a part of me. That's who I am. My parents would set up certain restrictions concerning shows, music, etc. Gradually, they have also accepted this identity of mine.
"Hip hop doesn't have to be all 'gangster'. All of the 12 tracks featured in our new album are love songs, like 'Shotto Nishshash', 'Baby Girl' and 'Sheesha'. We want to erase this preconceived notion of hip hop. It's not always necessarily about the 'thug life' as people would assume. It is just a genre of music, and is yet to get the respect it deserves.
"Most of our lyrics are in Bangla. We firmly adhere to it as we are aiming to draw Bengali fans.
"Our personal history, our struggles include both negative and positive aspects of life, and that is exactly what our songs reflect."
The album also features Shaq, Lal Miah and other rappers. It will soon be available at the stores.
Shib-B is also working on a song for a Dhaliwood movie as the first rapper to branch out in this field.