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Interviews |  26 Aug 2020 18:53 |  By Namrata Kale

Rapper MC Altaf: Artists can't survive on fresh air and fan love for all their life!

18-year old rapper from Dharavi MC Altaf Shaikh who has his song in Zoya Akhtar's Gully Boy and had his first music video on YouTube this month “Wassup!” recently released song CAGE, a track that has a strong message to convey

The music video was shot and directed during lockdown by Confuse and features cameos from D’Evil, Yoku B.I.G. from 7 Bantaiz and JD while the artwork was created by Delhi-based doodle artist Santanu Hazarika.

To know about CAGE and a lot more, Radioandmusic spoke to MC Altaf Shaikh.

Check the interview below.

What's your song Cash do all about? Message the song gives. Please elaborate.

Over the years I’ve realized that I should write about relevant things and not just music that serves pure entertainment or commercial purpose. It’s been extremely disheartening to see talented young artists adopt the submissive approach even though they are endowed because of the lack of financial resources. Today the most crucial requirement of every individual is money and without financial backing, the ecosystem doesn’t give you the platform to showcase your talent. Speaking of which first artists need to be handsomely compensated to generate funds to further develop and market their brand. Artists can’t survive on fresh air and fan love for all their life and the financial privileged shouldn’t be just limited to just the CAT A artists.

 An artist dedicates close to 3-6 months for every track and then for the same artist to be told off that their track can fetch a substandard fee and that he or she needs to give free performances is quite demotivational. The whole ecosystem is profiteering but are artists really fetching their true worth is questionable. Whether it is brands, record labels, promoters or publishers, the message is loud and clear that art can’t be manipulated and reduced to throw away prices. When artists make money, they will be able to invest in more inventory else it gets very tough for artists to keep spending from their own pockets.

How was your experience working on the track Cage?

 When we were prepping for this song, Aakash and I were jamming on a lot of new generation music with a focus on trap. I wanted to do something in the new school vibe as a lot of my previous songs have embraced an old school vibe. We had created a track called Wazan Hai which was in a similar space and was well received by the audience since the millennials have a keen intent towards trap music. He suggested a similar vibe for Cash Do, which is in a very chill zone. It’s a fun track and also conveys a severe message.

Future of the rap music industry amid COVID pandemic. Please lay down your thoughts on this.

Before COVID-19, we used to perform regularly in clubs, festivals, concerts, etc. in different states of India. Now we are not able to travel for shows. We are catering to the same set of fans on social media whereas earlier we got a lot of new geographically diverse audiences through our public performances. I miss the energy, vibe, and fan interface. However, the lockdown has given artists a chance to experiment and create new forms of music and explore collaborations we could never have thought of previously. I feel now promoters and brands may opt for virtual concerts and music showcases since the music consumption process hasn’t declined even in the lockdown. All the Gully Gang Entertainment releases have fared exceptionally well in spite of limited marketing machinery. A good amount of new music is going to come out and India is going to shine on the world stage. I feel the future of the rap music industry is bright than ever before.         

Nepotism in the music industry.

I am still an apprentice in the music industry. I do not have vast experience, but I have been working hard every day and have received support from different people. In the hip hop music industry, a lot of weightage is given to art, regardless of the artist’s background. For instance, a lot of producers send beats to me on my DMs. If I like the art and if the story is relatable, then I pursue a collaboration with that artist. At Gully Gang Entertainment we give weightage to art and not to the lineage or connections of the artist. Nepotism happens in most of the industries, but I feel that the hip hop community believes in art.

Could you let us know about your upcoming projects.

Since I am young and I have a lot of time to research, I am experimenting a lot with regards to different genres of music. I am working on crafting my signature brand of music. I have a few collaborations in the pipeline with a lot of excellent artists and a lot of new dope music that will release on Gully Gang Records and Dharavi United.