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Sunday, April 11, 2021

Gimme More

London-based percussionist Sarthak Korwar’s album More Arriving salutes the diversity in rap

Written by Rashi Bhattacharyya |
Updated: May 16, 2019 11:52:06 pm
Gimme More Sarthak Korwar (Express photo by Rishabah Sood)

The language of rap has become more diverse than ever before. A new album, More Arriving, is a shout out to this trend. By London-based percussionist Sarthak Korwar and his Indian classical and jazz instrumentation, with rappers from Delhi and Mumbai, the album presents a buffet of sounds and styles.

With this second studio album, Korwar will release a lead single, Mumbay, featuring Mumbai-based rapper MC Mawali. The album is done by UK-based label, Leaf. “This record serves as a snapshot of the plethora of brown voices in 2019. The diverse languages people are rapping in brings an interesting variation that makes the music and its combination of jazz and electronic very interesting,” says Korwar. He reveals that the album also features Prabh Deep and Delhi Sultanate.

Mumbay is themed around growing up and learning to navigate the streets and bustle of city life. The theme, ultimately, goes beyond the name of a city and becomes a universal construct. “Mumbai or Bombay, it doesn’t matter to me, call it what you want, you’re still from the street,” says Korwar.

Korwar has been fascinated by the rap scenes of Mumbai and Delhi since 2016. “I wanted to collaborate with rappers and MCs from India’s growing hip-hop scene. What made me work towards it is that the narrative by the young creators was not coming from upper class privilege. These artists were defining their sound, wearing their politics on their sleeves and being bold about their music,” says Korwar.

Born in the US, Korwar grew up in India and, at an early age, started playing the tabla. Western music attracted him as he often heard it leaking through the doorway of his local music shop. At 17, Korwar moved to Pune for higher studies but dedicated himself to music under Rajeev Devasthali, translating his skills to the Western drum kit and playing as a session musician. On completing his studies a decade ago, he moved to London where he trained as a tabla player under Sanju Sahai, focusing on the adaptation of Indian classical rhythms as well as non-Indian percussion instruments.

Since then Korwar has established himself as an original and compelling voices in the UK jazz scene. He has worked with British-Barbadian musician Shabaka Hutchings, clarinettist Arun Ghosh and producer Hieroglyphic Being, as well as groups Penya and Ill Considered. His debut album, Day To Day (2016), fused traditional folk music recorded with the Sidi community in India, which combined East African, Sufi and Indian influences, with contemporary jazz and electronics.

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