Indian-Australian artist Raool is an experienced lyricist but in the past few years, the artist has taken center stage. The rapper moved to Mumbai and is actively working to expand the hip-hop scene in India with not only his music but by helping up-and-coming hip-hop artists.
India’s hip-hop scene only gets exposure in small bursts and usually through a Bollywood released track. With artists like Raool and Raja Kumari bringing hip-hop to India, this genre of music is growing. Recently, Raool released another hit, “Thoda Bing Thoda Bang.” The hip-hop dance number hit 2 million in just a week and now it’s surpassed 4 million views on YouTube.
The track was trending on India’s top Pop Charts on iTunes. We spoke with Raool about his new song and his career as well.
The Teal Mango: For starters, congrats on the success of “Thoda Bing Thoda Bang!” It has hit #14 on India’s Top Pop Charts on iTunes and surpassed 2 million streams on Gaana within 2 weeks and your video has surpassed 2.5 million views in just over a week of the release. How does it feel to have this song reach such heights?
Raool: It feels dope! Nothing is more rewarding for an artist than feedback and for me, these numbers represent just that! But more than this, the messages that I’ve received on my personal WhatsApp number which I’ve shared with the fans is what I’m most proud of. All of this is only possible with their support, otherwise, I’m just a dude dancing to my own tune in the studio.
TTM: What was the inspiration behind this track?
Raool: I was scheduling work and wanted to up the ante in terms of completing tracks, so going through the calendar I was saying “will do this part of this track here and that track, a little bing here and little bang there.” I love flaunting the little Hindi I know so I converted it that into Thoda Bing Thoda Bang and thought ‘Yo this could work!’
TTM: How did you conceptualize the music video for this track?
Raool: I worked with a really talented Director, Luke Biggins in London. He’s worked with artists like Stefflon Don, Enrique Iglesias, French Montanna, and Ne-Yo. Luke and I knew that the song had to be naughty, fun, cheeky, and playful and I always try to channel Dennis the Menace, you know, the cartoon character. I blame it on my Freckles; so I always think what his music videos would look like if a) he was a rapper and b) was actually a real person and just try to do that.
TTM: As the singer, composer, and lyricist of the song, which role did you think was the hardest?
Raool: Lyrics in Hindi are always the hardest for me. I have to write the track out in English first and then work with my lyricists Niket Pandey and Justin Mall to have it converted. Rap is my first love but in the last few years I’ve been doing a lot of songwriting for other artists and I always really enjoy the composition part of a record the most.
TTM: How was it working with Gaana on this exclusive track? Was this your first collaboration with the music streaming company?
Raool: Yes, this was my first collaboration with Gaana and it’s been a great experience! They are thrilled with the performance of the song especially with it being a non-film song and garnering 3 million streams within 3 weeks. They’re keen to partner on more releases for the album so let’s see.
TTM: Taking a step back, let’s talk about your musical journey. When did you first discover that music would be your lifelong passion?
Raool: I got into music through a love for writing and poetry. I found rap at the age of 10 because it was essentially poetry in rhythm. I used to travel to London from Australia during school holidays and my older cousin Sima gave me a cassette of Snoop’s Doggystyle and Onyx Bacdafu*up and my fate was sealed.
TTM: You started off composing and writing for other artists. What pushed you to come to the forefront yourself?
Raool: Hip-Hop was my first love, songwriting came later and for a period became the main focus. Writing for other artists was a way to test my creativity and versatility, I was like “let’s see if I can write a rock record, let’s try a reggae record etc.” Being in front was always the vision but writing for others was a way I could do things I knew wouldn’t suit me, for instance, the very Bollywood records I have in my bank.
TTM: You’ve always had a unique sound within the urban desi music scene, how would you describe your style?
Raool: 808’s and big pop choruses cooked tadka style.
TTM: How did this wolf icon and calling your fans the “wolfpack” come about? Is there an interesting story behind that logo?
Raool: Wolfpack is a movement based on the mindset of being a go-getter and self-reliant but also depending and forming a strong team. i.e do it yourself, but you don’t have to be a lone wolf. When I rejected the numerous major label deals I had for my songs and album, I did so because I had faith in my audience support.
TTM: Is that why you gave out your personal number?
Raool: Yes, Because it isn’t a one way street of just them helping me, it’s a genuine conversation where we can help each other. I’ve had tons of aspiring rappers, lyricists, dancers, graffiti artists reach out to me for feedback on their songs, for suggestions on equipment, for engineering suggestions etc. Its all about helping each other. You have to remember that the hip-hop scene in India is in its infancy and is still not an established genre of music so we have to band together to make sure we aren’t reliant on Bollywood and just a passing fad. I keep 1 or 2 hours aside a day to respond to people. I hate texting so I send as many voice notes as possible. Above all else, this direct communication is the most rewarding experience of being an artist next to performing live.
TTM: Do you prefer to prefer to write or compose?
Raool: Lyrics has always been my first love and I’m really fussy about them so it takes a lot out of me although I do enjoy it. In comparison, composing is a vibe type thing, its a lot more fun and free, less planned so I kind of prefer that!
TTM: You’ve traveled between England, Australia and India quite a lot, which city is your favorite and why?
Raool: I love all the cities, Perth, Mumbai, and London. Each has their plus points! I’m a fan of the cold so I gotta go with London as my pick though!
TTM: You’ve found success in the urban desi sphere and in Bollywood working on films like “Tum Bin 2” and “Housefull 3” and even some television shows. What project do you feel is your biggest achievement thus far?
Raool: I think my debut with Abhishek Bachchan and chatting with him afterward was definitely pretty special! He’s the big homey!
TTM: Any new music or an album we will see from you in the near future?
Raool: My upcoming record is my personal favorite, it will be dropping in July. Can’t wait for you to see this one. It’s cold AF, literally!