I am evergreen,” claims Baba Sehgal, who could well be credited for introducing Hindi rap to the Indian audience in the ’90s. The rapper is returning to mainstream music with his latest project — he has composed rap numbers for the web show, Inspector Chingum, a spin-off of the popular series, Motu Patlu.
“Rapping for kids allows me to use innovative words, be more expressive and funny. I enjoyed recording for the show because there is a rap number in each episode, and the situations were so thrilling that they kept me on my toes,” says the musician, who has written, composed and sung 31 tracks for the show that airs on Amazon Prime Video. Although he tasted success in the early years, Sehgal struggled to keep the momentum going. If his Thanda Thanda Pani (1992) or Aaja Meri Gaadi Mein Baith Jaa (1994) were popular in the ’90s, the following years saw Hindi film music take centre-stage, with the offerings of Sehgal and his ilk relegated to the fringes. Over 25 years since Hindi rap seeped into public consciousness, he says that few artistes have been able to do justice to the form.
Point out how several Hindi film songs today have a sprinkling of rap in them and are loved by the audiences at that, and he cuts in, “Bollywood filmmakers spend a huge amount of money to promote their films, and, in turn, their music is also promoted. The raps in their songs lack creativity, but they sell because of heavy promotion and constant playing on TV channels.” However, he is quick to add that there are some artistes who have caught his attention owing to their sheer talent.
“I like Naezy’s work. I consider him a true rap artiste.” Sehgal is also glad that the surge in the number of digital platforms has facilitated the comeback of independent music in the country. “They have opened up avenues for all artistes — not only musicians, but also stand-up comedians, etc. I feel proud to be part of this new digital culture. I have released 71 solo soundtracks on my YouTube channel and have gathered over 40 million views in three years.”