Vibrating the hip-hop music scenario of Northeast India, meet J’97 from Assam
Bringing in light one the youngest and dynamic hip-hop artist of Guwahati, Assam, pouring a new life to music scenario the Sun is Nishant Bharali a/k/a J'97. He made his debut in the year 2011 as a solo artist, but later he collocated as duo crew with the former rapper from D Frontier Sculpted, Skoop Loc. After nailing down several shows around Guwahati and its locale, they drop their own singles featuring several rap artists to create a very flawless and different sound to feed listener's ears. Currently j'97 is working on his upcoming mixtape "The Payback". Two of its singles are already out and he is done recording the third one named "Welcome to the Jungle".
Here is J'97 with The Northeast Today
TNT: Tell us something about your upcoming mixtape 'The Payback'. What are the expectations one can have from it?
"The Payback", the title of the mixtape seems revengeful, but the fact is it's what I had in mind for people who had a different picture of me while I was growing up. I am trying to portray situations I've been through, also I have added bonus tracks in the mixtape making it relatable to the mainstream crowd. Though I have put in my efforts to keep the mixtape more classic rather than working with the new school or trap vibes that's in trend.
The crowd can expect real hip hop through their headphones and speakers and get to know how to vibe in with a different taste of music that's partly old school and classy. Also they can witness and feel the streets through my mixtape because I have tried to draw a picture of the truth behind every person starting from the bottom. Lyrics might seem explicit and vulgar but I've tried to keep it real.
TNT: Who were your music influences? What hip-hop albums did you grow up listening to?
If you ask me about my influences I would firstly refer like any other hip hop head to Eminem. He's the reason behind me every day plugging in my earphones and drifting towards this art. Old school kings like Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Method Man,Dmx, LL Cool J have played a very crucial role in making Hip Hop interesting for me. Talking about modern day gods J Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Lupe Fiasco has kept my playlist heated up all this time.
I consider Albums like the Chronic , Straight Outta Compton , Infinite , Relapse , Marshal Mathers LP , Recovery , The American Gangsta , The Blueprint 3 , as everyday masterpieces that I used to bump to .
TNT:What do you think of hip-hop culture in Northeast India?
Hip Hop culture in the seven states has evolved drastically. I remember listening to Michael Sailo as a kid , now we see artists like Borkung , K Bloodz , The Konflated Poets , Still Rhyming and many more interesting groups and artists come up in the region . Talking about my city i.e. Guwahati where I belong the first crews up here were D Frontier Sculpted, Fresh Cash and now you can see the art which was considered rare to be growing rapidly. I am proud of the fact that The North East Hip Hop tastes very different than other Indian regions that sets us apart. Hip Hop in Assam,Meghalaya,Manipur,Nagaland,Arunachal,Mizoram and Tripura is a movement where every artist stands up to speak for their region, themselves and their hustle.
TNT:Is there any specific message that you want to pass to your listeners through your music?
The music crowd around us is mainstream. You see a thousand people banging their heads to Bollywood numbers but it is rare when we talk about the indie scene. So I think every single listener of any genre to get and feel the vibe an artist is trying to spread through his music and share his works and appreciate if they can relate to it. In that way, according to me every single artist can grow and prosper.
TNT:Who do you want to work with in the future?
As a dream chasing kid,I had and always have the wish for working with the greats like Timberland, Eminem obviously, J Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg. But also I have this thing for Jazz artists that I respect that every single Jazz Hip Hop instrumental an artist drops it blows my mind, so I look forward to work with versatile producers and also artists across the globe.
TNT:What are the obstacles that a hip-hop artist face in our region/country?
Hip Hop Artists face many barriers pursuing this art such as language, majority of the hip hop heads are turning their tongues to their regional language so that the crowd can understand and feel everything they drop. Also a good platform is what the scene is lacking. Adding to this promotion also is left behind.
TNT: What is your exact benchmark for success? Where do you see yourself 5years from now?
My exact benchmark for success is not money, fame or walking in the red carpet but it's finding my songs in every single person's heart and mind.
Talking about five years,that's quite a time but Iwant to grow keep on growing, I don't want to be the best but I want to be better than the best cause when you talk about the best in the scene it sets you to a limit and my motto is to go off limit .
Where they at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AF3Y8qxHiYA
Late Night Love: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKEUIsgyyEY
Good For Nothing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yAV0-sEm-cw
–Interviewed by Ritu Raj Boruah for TNT-The Northeast Today