Attempting to keep up with new releases is exhausting. And the never-ending quest to discover an act before they hit >1000 plays on Bandcamp is all but rewarding. Having given up full-time music writing a little while ago, more often than not, I find myself feeling a mix of FOMO and IDGAF about new local music while compiling my Spotify playlists. With this feature, we (that, is I) aim to put together a weekly mixtape—without being judgemental assholes.
For this week’s edition, we’ve got the peeps from Azadi Records (woop, woop!) to throw in reccos that define their days, their music and their aesthetic. And one of my favs from their roster, because why the fuck not? Azadi Records turns two next week, and they’re taking their whole damn roster on tour, and it promises to be a riot. I’m hyped AF. Tix here.
“Waste” by Brand New
“At this point, Brand New's Science Fiction album provides a thin veneer of comfort—even if it lies in giving up and speaks to the hopelessness that I feel right now. "Waste" has been on repeat since last month, and it represents the pinnacle of the Long Island-based emo pioneers' songwriting abilities. Despite the conflict I feel listening to this record (Brand New's frontman Jesse Lacey was accused of sexual misconduct in 2017), there's still some reason in the ugliness of it all and I guess that's where I feel comfortable right now, down in the pit.”
—Uday Kapur, co-founder, Azadi Records, and self-proclaimed resident depressive
“Moonwalk” by Nasty Ninja
“I heard the song for the first time at Seedhe Maut's album launch gig that happened in Mumbai and I was like, "Wow, this is dope; I need this in my playlist." Since the time this dropped, I’ve been listening to it on repeat. It's very catchy, the beat is simple but it has that captivating vibe. Not a lot of artists are doing new school hip-hop in our country like it's supposed to be done; ain't taking no names but know that Ninja ain't one of them. Matter of fact: He's killing it right now. It's a vibe, it's fresh and it's dope… all the good reasons for it to be in a playlist.”
—Sez On The Beat, record producer and a beatmaker, dropping BANGERS ONLY
“Ambitionz Az A Ridah” by 2Pac
“I was a big Pac fan growing up. I remember when this album came out, I went out the day it did and rushed home. I put it in the CD player on my brother’s system, disk one, track one, and it was “Ambitionz Az A Ridah,” produced by one of my favourite west coast beat-makers, Daz Dillinger. This shit banged. While growing up, I was doing shit I shouldn’t have been doing, thinking I was the man (soon learned I wasn't); this track was like a pump-me-up anthem back then, kinda still is.”
—Mo Joshi/Punjabi Grime Artist, co-founder and Loan Approval Officer at Azadi Records
“Pankh” ft. Bawari Basanti by Seedhe Maut
“This is my favourite song because it's a phenomenal composition by Sez, with the right amalgamation of hip-hop with Indian classical music. It's a song that anyone can connect with—the young, the old, the hip-hop heads, and also the others. Calm and Encore ABJ's verses are lyrical masterpieces—so simple yet so effective. Bawari Basanti's soulful voice and the cinematic video by Vaksh Vimal take it a notch higher. "Pankh"—wings to take flight—also makes it a metaphor for the foundation AZR is based on.”
—Aabha Pusalkar, the mother AZR doesn’t know they need
“Hindsight” by Lunar C
“The fact that Lunar C started as a battle rapper is really amusing when you listen to his music. We recently discovered his album Dirtbrain—a body of work which contains some serious writing and songs which will lighten up your mood. One of those is "Hindsight." He keeps it simple and witty, which is pretty sick."
—Seedhe Maut, the realest youthz in Indian hip-hop by a mile (or a hundred)
“Quiet Storm” ft. Lil’ Kim by Mobb Deep
“I've been on an old school hip-hop thing lately. One of the tracks that I can't seem to get off my mind and I'm kind of addicted to is Mobb Deep's "Quiet Storm" remix featuring Lil Kim. It is, no doubt, a classic, from its production and the way they've used Smokey Robinson's "A Quiet Storm" sample to the drums, and the most essential element, the bass! Literally rolling. This song makes you wanna groove even if you are not in a mood to, and is surely one of the finest club bangers. Havoc's opening verse sets it off nicely, and Prodigy ends it with finesse, but my favourite part in this track is when the hook comes in and Lil Kim takes over; she kills it straight up. The super catchy hook as well as her verse. One of her best guest appearances till date. I bump this one everyday, I vibe to it, I feel good—and that's what music is supposed to do.”
—Ahmer Javed, redefining the face of Kashmir hip-hop
“Fake Adidas” by Tienas
“Bobby Boucher, Tanmay Saxena or just str8 up Tienas—this dude is so impressive each and every time that I’m left with my mouth wide open at each live show. A couple of weeks ago, Bobby threw down some of the sickest freestyle bars that I’ve heard by an Indian r a p p e r in a while, and I’m pretty sure his upcoming album is going to be a testament to his prowess. Tienas goes smooth as smooth does, harder than the baddest mothafuckas, and melodic enough to remind you of Cheeky Andy—a whole damn package. If you’ve not spun his mixtape yet, it might be a good idea to do so now, before his next one drops soon.”
—Naman Saraiya, big fan of Azadi Records if I hadn’t made that clear already
Azadi Records turns two next week, and they’re taking the whole damn roster on tour. Get tix to their New Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune shows right here .