His name is Naved Shaikh, but everyone knows him as the rapper Naezy. That’s short for ‘Naved is crazy’ BTW. When he isn’t being crazy, Naezy snaps out rhymes in his unique style of bombaiyya rap, using Mumbai’s vibrant street culture as inspiration.
#QueMag catches up with the exciting artist to talk about music, his inspirations and all things Naezy:
What inspired you to start rapping?
The situation around me inspired me to rap. I was in a bad place in life and I wanted to escape that. So I started writing and it helped me express my feelings. I started out imitating other rap artists to entertain my friends. They loved it and told me I have an easy-going, natural flow.
What do you rap about?
I usually rap about me – my experiences and my story, and stuff people can relate to. Initially, I believed that it had to be my story, but I’ve realised how I can also instigate social change through my music. I want to move away from the misconceptions people have of rappers and to show that rap can bring about change, through meaningful messages.
Tell us about your favourite performance.
It has to be my performance for MTV Repeat at Blue Frog. They also screened the documentary Bombay 70 by Triangular Motion Pictures, featuring me, that was previously played at the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival. All my fans were there, along with some celebrities, so it was amazing! There was also the time when I performed at NH7 Weekender, where the energy was so high that I’m still feeling the rush.
What’s your daily schedule like?
I wake up late, so the afternoon is when I work and think about my music and lyrics. I go out in the evening; I also hit the gym at this time. I do my best work at night, though. So late in the evening, when the house can get crowded since my family is home, I go to the train tracks or to parks – anywhere that’s quiet – where my brain kicks into high gear and I can really write.
One of your songs that you love is…
Aafat. It was the first song I ever wrote.
What’s your favourite song by another artist?
Alright by Kendrick Lamar. I love almost everything he writes. He’s my idol.
What’s your favourite movie?
Rang de Basanti. There’s a different kind of energy that that movie brings out. It’s about rebellion, but in a good way.
One city you really want to visit right now?
To the West Coast – Los Angeles – to meet all my idols.
Your favourite artist on the Indian music scene right now?
Nucleya. That guy’s music is high on energy and his sound is very similar to my vibe. Very street and very Indian. I’d love to collaborate with him someday.
What’s your wardrobe like?
My wardrobe has a very hip-hop vibe. Even though the hip-hop culture isn’t really that big in India, and the clothes aren’t as readily available, I wear baggy and casual clothes with sneakers.
What’s your favourite brand for clothes?
I love shoes; and I keep switching between Nike, Jack & Jones, Adidas and Diesel.
What’s the one fashion trend in Bollywood that made an impact on you?
The proper bombaiyya style that all these bhai-type characters have worn: one button open with a red handkerchief around the collar.
How are you dealing with sudden success?
It feels really good when people come and recognise me for my talent and tell me they love what I write. I’m not yet as successful as I’d like to be, but I’m surrounded with people who love me and it makes me feel like I should work harder. Maybe in two-three years, I’ll get there.
Finally, what are you working on this year?
I’m launching my debut EP. I will be working on two – three music videos and five – six songs out of which a couple will be about social change. I want to balance out the serious topics with a little bit of humour, to make people think. I have also been asked to perform for the United Nations!
You can listen to Naezy’s music at: https://soundcloud.com/naezythebaa
This interview is part of a series of Q&As with artistes who’re playing new, interesting sounds that represent a young India.
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Images Courtesy: Naezy/Facebook