Over the past two decade Afro-American subculture, hip hop has evolved as a global movement. It played a major role in the Arab Revolution which started in 2012. Arabian rapper, Malikah has become a global star and has associated with brands like Adidas.
Like in the rest of the world, hip hop in the Indian sub-continent has grown by leaps and bounds in the past ten years. In the Northeast, Late Michael M Sailo, Borkung Hrangkhawl, Khasi Bloodz are a few prominent faces who have carried forward the torch. Over the last couple of year, more and more rappers have emerged out of the region including Shankar aka Shank Jay. Originally from Nagaon, Assam, he is currently based in Shillong
Shank Jay recollects how he would listen to Biggie’s music when he was young. ‘My brother would collect a lot of rap songs and would play it loud when no one was at home. I enjoyed listening to rap songs, and slowly I started collecting more songs. I also started learning the lyrics. I was very much influenced by Tupac, Notorious B.I.G, Rakim and more.’
His official music video, ‘My Story’ is his auto-biography where he speaks about his life over a laidback 90’s old school beat. ‘My father was my biggest inspiration and would constantly motivate me. In 2015, my father passed away, he was suffering from cancer. That was the turning point of my life. I felt like giving up on everything but I didn’t because I wanted to make him proud. Hip hop helped me heal and express my pain and struggle. I talk about all of that in My Story.’
Shankar has been frequently releasing music under the moniker Shank Jay. Most of his lyrics are in English but he has made a couple of songs in his mother tongue, Assamese.
As for the influence of Notorious B.I.G, he cites, ‘Hip hop would not be where it is today without him. I consider Biggie as the balance that held the elements of hip hop together.’
Shankar’s aims to become an established rapper in the industry. ‘Presently, I am preparing myself for a mixtape and also working on collaborations. My main motive will be to make good and meaningful music and leave the rest to the Lord.’ With more artistes like Shank Jay coming in to the forefront, the hip hop movement in Northeast India is bound to have a remarkable growth.
By Mrinal Paul