By Alisha Ebrahimji – Texas State University
The South Asian rap scene has its fair share of heroes trying to make it big in the industry and mark their territory. We have our Jay Sean, Lomaticc, and now Arjun. All three of these artists have integrated their mother tongue into their lyrics and in my opinion, have done an admirable job reeling in the culture to their music.
But what I haven’t seen yet is the incorporation of Gujarati into rap music. Being a cultured Gujarati girl myself, I’d like to think I have an ear for good, catchy, music.
iQ is a marketing director by day and a musician by night who is trying to make a name for himself in the hip-hop scene by rapping…in Gujarati.
Before you read any further, you have to watch his YouTube video to see what I’m talking about.
iQ has one album out right now, Rebirth, and just recently released Guju Bhai in all its glory. There have been a few others trying to rap in Gujarati prior to iQ such as Devang Patel with his, “Patel Rap” and Karmacy’s “Blood Brothers” but iQ says he’s ready “to make Gujarati cool again.”
I sat down with iQ on Skype and asked him a few questions. Here’s what he had to say:
AE: So how did the name iQ, Guju Bhai come about?
iQ: As a kid, people use to call me Q and somewhere along the line when I started music I added an “I” to it and became iQ. The Guju Bhai thing came about when I was working with Bohemia on my Rebirth album in 2009 and he said, “Dude you’re Gujarati…you should try to rap in Gujarati since there aren’t any Guju rappers.” It started off as a joke, but I actually did it and I was just waiting for the right time to release it.
AE: What are some of your inspirations with your music?
iQ: The Gujarati youth haven’t felt cool. Jalebi and Dhokla and Gandhi Ji, they aren’t cool. You’ve got Bohemia and Honey Singh, a Punjabi rapper and they’re awesome. We don’t have a character like that, and I think it’s about time for one, and I hope I can inspire some others to start too.
AE: What makes you different and how do you plan on surpassing what everyone’s normal expectations of “another South Asian artist?”
iQ: Guju Bhai is not the guy in that video. My music varies and it’s really relatable for all ages because it transcends everywhere. I have Sanskrit hip-hop, Hindi rap, English flow, and Gujarati flow. Go ask another artist to flow with swag in four different languages and appeal to multiple generations.
AE: What advice do you have for the youth wanting to follow in similar footsteps?
iQ: Be unique, be yourself and don’t forget where you came from.