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Tuesday, August 04, 2020

How Covid lockdown inspired this Delhi boy to create his first hip-hop song

Meet Vikas Baghel, a 21-year-old boy of a driver whose rap song on coronavirus is doing the rounds on social media

Written by Disha Roy Choudhury | New Delhi | Published: July 8, 2020 5:30:11 pm
vikas baghel, coronavirus rap song Vikas Baghel’s rap song on coronavirus won a lot of attention.

The ongoing coronavirus crisis has impacted each of our lives significantly. It has made us perceive things around us in a different light, to say the least. And perhaps that is how the pandemic interestingly turned out to be a productive episode in the life of a 21-year-old boy from Delhi, Vikas Baghel.

With no employment, the college passout, who is from a lower-middle-class family, decided to spend time writing while being home during the lockdown. And it resulted in him making his first hip-hop music track based on the coronavirus lockdown, which has started doing the rounds on social media and gradually getting popular.

Making a video song during the lockdown, with limited sources, was not an easy job, of course. Read about Baghel’s musical journey in his own words:

‘Wanted to create something meaningful’

“I completed my diploma in mass communication in 2019. Meanwhile, I worked as an anchor and scriptwriter at an online news channel for a year and a half. Soon, I started my own YouTube channel where I would do bike reviews. One of my friends had a good camera and I thought of putting it to use. I managed to buy a microphone online and then started shooting at my friend’s house. So I would shoot about three-four videos at one go since as he lives at a distance. And I would edit the videos at home and upload them. Later, I got one of his video cameras home, bought a tripod stand, and began to shoot at home itself.

Read| Artists from across the world on how the coronavirus crisis is shaping their work

I belong to a lower-middle-class family and have been living with my parents in Delhi on rent for the past 10 years. I am yet to find a secure job. During the lockdown, I was not being able to upload videos because my computer broke down. So, I thought of spending my time writing, something that I am fond of.

vikas baghel, coronavirus lockdown rap song Vikas Baghel wants to explore a range of social issues through his songs.

I love hip-hop music; I am a big fan of Raftaar. Although I do not like battle rap where you brag or insult another person. I wanted to create something that would hold meaning. So I thought of tapping into the current global coronavirus crisis. I started going through all the news reports, carefully observed people around me, and started making notes for the song.

The final version of the song is divided into three parts — the post-COVID-19 lifestyle, frontline professionals, and migrant workers. It took me about 15 days to write the song. I started by sharing the rough cut of the song with my neighbours and friends. They appreciated. Once the song was ready, I contacted people for recording but it was costing me about Rs 10,000, which I could not afford.

‘We were ready when my friend and video editor tested positive’

Fortunately, it was again an old friend who helped me, and it is because of him that I could complete my dream project. With his help, I finally recorded the song at Loyal Studio in Tughlakabad. That was my first experience in recording.

Then came the video. But shooting at an outside location was difficult owing to the lockdown. Finally, we zeroed in on an old unfinished building near my friend’s house at Kondli Road. We were all ready when my friend fell ill and tested positive for coronavirus. All we could do then was wait till he was in home quarantine. About 15 days later, he tested negative, and we resumed work.

vikas baghel, coronavirus lockdown rap music Vikas Baghel at the recording studio

‘Want to prove to my parents’

We shot the video at the building in just 1.5 hours. My friend then edited it in just a day. On the evening of June 8, 2020, I uploaded the final version of the song from my phone itself.

Read| Art in quarantine

Then began the task of promoting the video on social media. My friends and cousins were extremely supportive and helped immensely by sharing the video and spreading the word.

Meanwhile, I played the audio for my mother. She had no idea about hip-hop music but she liked what I made. Later, I showed the final video to my father. He watched it and said, “Achha hai par ab kya (It is good but now what)?” Sometimes, it becomes difficult to explain to your parents. My father is a driver and has been out of work since the lockdown. So I understand when he expects me to do something that would bring money.

Read| Art for art’s sake: Has the State failed its artistes?

My parents have been supportive all my life. In fact, academically, I am the most qualified in the entire family but I do not have a salaried job yet. So far, I have managed to save only USD 30 (Rs 2,244) from my YouTube earnings. And someday, I want to earn enough from the channel and prove to my parents that this could also be a profession.

But I intend to continue creating music. My second song was released recently in collaboration with another rapper and I have already begun working on the third. This is something I feel passionate about; through my songs, I want to explore a range of social issues from women’s rights to humanity.”

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