“Don’t leave anything halfway. If you’ve started something, take it to the end. If you have a dream, then wake up and fulfill it. That’s our story. We have done it for ourselves. We’ve changed our lives. And that’s what we say in our music. If we can do it, then anyone can do it,” is what rap duo Seedhe Maut breathes. The journey of the two-man team consisting of Encore ABJ (Abhijay Negi) and Calm (Siddhant Sharma) and their rise to becoming the face of Delhi hip-hop has been nothing short of a dream come true. With back-to-back hit albums and a perpetually growing cult following, Seedhe Maut has become a hot property in the Indian hip-hop industry.
Through the years of evolution of Indian hip hop as a sought-after genre of music, India has seen the emergence of several rappers who have made a name for themselves through their sound. From an underground movement to now basking in the limelight of mainstream music, Indian hip-hop in the country has seen a drastic change in reception. Among other significant changes, Zoya Akhtar’s 2019 film Gully Boy is one such milestone that elevated the hip-hop culture in the country and brought more attention to gully rap from Mumbai in particular.
Seedhe Maut has emerged as a noted name in the highly competitive desi hip-hop community. Garnering attention for their lyricism, hard flows, and domineering music, the two have carved out a standing not just as the face of the Delhi hip-hop scene but as a loved hip-hop presence across the nation.
We discuss their journey, their new border-crossing mixtape Lunch Break, and what’s coming next as they go independent at the cusp of their new album announcement.
“A lot of things have changed in life regarding how we deal with things. Our growth played a big part in that because we were not thinking about tomorrow or the day after. We were just making music. And nothing else was more important in our minds at that time,” they said talking about how the love for their craft has been what’s driven them to hip-hop heights.
“We fulfilled all our dreams and the biggest dream was to feel happy in doing what you are doing. And we feel so happy just making music probably more than we do doing anything else. That’s the thing that changed our lives. From Cypher to the Stage. Our love for the art gave us that change. That’s it. The love for the stage.”
With their burning passion for creating music and their love for the stage, their dreams only seem to be getting bigger.
“We have always rapped Delhi hip hop. Everything we say, everything is Delhi. We talk about these streets. But we have never made music with Delhi hip hop in mind. We have always made music with India and even Asia in mind,” says Seedhe Maut.
Notability for their hip hop sound in India is but a part of the larger goal they aim for.
“We want our albums to compete with albums outside. We want to compete for the Grammys. We should take it to every international level. That is the hunger for us, it’s always been the bigger picture. And by doing that, we have also become the face of our city. Because we come from our city. We talk about it.”
With the release of their mixtape Lunch Break, they inch one step closer to that very goal. A 30-track list with multiple big names on the feature list delivers a new innovative Seedhe Maut listening experience with a mixed bag of flows. After their gutsy collaboration with American DJ KSHMR on the track Bhussi, with this mixtape, they further their international collaboration roster. The tape features renowned Pakistani artists like Talal Qureshi and Farish Shafi as well as London-based South Asian hip-hop artist Sonny Jim known globally for his distinctive style of hip-hop and contemporary collabs with the likes of the late MF Doom.
Not exclusive to international stars, however, the mix tape also sees multiple collaborations with Indian hip hop icons like Badshah and KR$NA as well. “It’s a very rare thing when you’re working with someone and you feel like, wow, this is going smooth. But all the people we worked with, we felt like everything was going naturally. And everyone gave their best. That’s what we felt like. So, it was a great process for us. And it will be great for them too. Because we don’t usually collaborate with anyone. And this time we thought we should do it with this tape. We thought about who we liked. Who we wanted in this song. We thought about that and picked our features. It was very natural. It came out of love,” they add, about what goes into working with the versatile feature list and combining these different names and voices to procure a genre-bending mix like Lunch Break.
As the sound of Seedhe Maut matures so does the train of their career as the duo decides to step away from long-time label Azadi Records to pursue a new direction as an independent unit. “We’re thinking of creating something of our own. That’s the plan. That’s the next step. Like, a team around us which is every bit as good. And it’s not like we’re moving away from management. There are still the same people who used to manage us. Because everything is still intact on the managerial side. But the major thing is we want to be the face of our music and our own business.”, says the duo.
From launching a new mixtape to going independent, it’s almost like there’s no stopping the trail-blazing roll of SeedheMaut as they drop the prelude to their first album as an independent artist, Kavi Kehna Chahte Hai. And with the announcement comes the question, what does the poet (Seedhe Maut) want to say?
“For that, you’ll have to wait,” laughs Calm, but he also adds about the album, “that’s a different sound. The sonics are completely different. Nothing that Seedhe Maut has ever done. It’s experimental and unorthodox.”
Hero and Feature images: courtesy Seedhe Maut