Tamil hip-hop legend Yogi B on returning with Natchatra and worth of tangible music in a streaming world

With heat and an infectious smile, Yogi B, inarguably the pioneer of Tamil hip-hop, speaks about how excited he’s to carry out in Chennai. “There’s just something about coming back to my motherland that makes it soulful and refreshing. Even if it is just about sitting with a friend and sipping chai.” This time, nonetheless, it looks like moving into a distinct world, says Yogi. “Coming here after the pandemic feels like a reset; to my life and the world as I know it. Seeing how people are living now, after surviving the pandemic, makes it feel like a new world to me.”

This Thursday, Yogi is acting at Phoenix Marketcity, Chennai, together with Emcee Jesz and Dr Burn. Popularly often called Yogi B & Natchatra, the Malaysia-based ensemble is returning to carry out in Tamil Nadu after nearly 15 years, and Yogi says that it was the music consumption developments throughout the pandemic that gave them the push to do that. “There’s a demand amongst followers to see artists they grew up with; it’s a retro wave that’s occurring all around the world.

Emcee Jesz, Yogi B, and Dr. Burn, collectively known as as ‘Yogi B & Natchatra’
| Picture Credit score:
Particular Association

“During the pandemic, when there was silence all around, people thought ‘ mavane, what is valuable in life? Which music kept us going and captured those valuable moments?’ And there came a value in looking back. We, Yogi B & Natchatra, are lucky to still have a place in the hearts of people.” There’s one more reason for the live performance as properly, one that’s near Yogi. The artist rightfully wears it on his sleeve — and on his T-shirt with ‘Original’ written on block letters — that he’s known as the godfather of Tamil hip-hop. “That comes with a lot of weight to carry. An artistic responsibility. Tamil is as big as a galaxy and hip-hop is a vast art form. So bringing them together for a fusion is something complex and I want to make sure that there is a balance.”

Emcee Jesz: For a full-time artist like myself, the pandemic was a calamity like nothing else. It took away loads from me, pushed me into melancholy, and a number of buddies from Chennai requested me to come back right here. However I made a decision that if I come again, it ought to be with a bang. The love that the followers showered on us throughout the pandemic reunited Yogi B & Natchatra., and that is us returning that love.

Dr. Burn: This new era hasn’t witnessed Tamil hip-hop like us. Vallavan got here out nearly 17 years in the past. Since then, the understanding of hip-hop has modified, as has music tastes, and so, it’s essential to inform this new crop of audiences what we’re all about. That’s difficult, and thrilling.

In his 30-year-long profession now, Yogi has seen the recognition curve of rap music develop exponentially. “The turbo boost in technology and the lifestyle of people merged, and it has made everyone a content creator; there’s a tsunami of content out there and this has given a lot of opportunities to rap music talents.” The expansion of music streaming, nonetheless, has birthed a brand new argument that has divided music lovers — that the lack of tangibility has diminished possession of music amongst listeners. Gone is the era that carried music cassettes or music gamers with painstakingly-curated tracks on 100MB SD playing cards; the curve of the Vinyl-cassettes-music machine turned in the direction of one thing intangible. Yogi says he stands with these arguments and that this is because of commercialization with out understanding the cultural values of the commerce.

“When socio-cultural values are disregarded during commercialisation, it becomes plasticky. When you physically own music, there is a realness to it; but a stream is an illusionary thing, something akin to a wave. The tangibility of music is something that key players of the industry are not bothered about because they don’t have a cultural centre in their organisations.” If these firms do worth these cultural features, Yogi says, they might provide each streaming and bodily merchandise. He additionally factors to a discrepancy amongst generations of music customers. “There’s a big generation gap in music consumption because we don’t have good documentation or insights into this culture, especially in India. We have viral icons, but not many socio-cultural music icons. Nobody taught the youth what the highest resolution of music listening is and why streaming cannot offer what CDs can.”

Technological developments can’t be blamed altogether. Yogi cites examples of how the US, a rustic synonymous with technological development, nonetheless has Vinyl gross sales. “An artist like Adele sold millions of CDs in the past few years. The demography of her audience is mostly women over 30s, and most of them go to this particular supermarket where a big stall of Adele’s CDs is installed. Once they start buying, they start realising the value in the tangibility of music.”

Yogi B

Yogi B
| Picture Credit score:
Particular Association

Being a musician who has at all times juggled indie and movie music effortlessly, Yogi is completely happy to see the 2 faculties intersect and discover mutual respect. “People now understand what indie music is. When I started, I had to repeatedly explain that to people. The youth are more aware now, and I have been waiting for this ‘woke generation’ that likes to feel with their heart, think with their mind, and not take conventional ideas without questioning them.”

The Katravai Patravai-rapper additionally stresses the significance of social activism in rap, and he roots for the rise of artists like Arivu, OfRo, and Da-Lit boy. In actual fact, he’s even crucial of his personal repertoire for not having extra social activism. “These artists are much-needed for the culture of the form because it is all about quality and fighting against injustice. I sit down and listen to them because they speak of a world, and suffering, that I might not know of.”

Tracks set to be carried out by Yogi B & Natchatra on the occasion: Hip Hop Period, Mov Dat, Iru Mugan Settai, Unhealthy Boy, Naduvan, Engeyum Eppothum, Vaazhkai Oru Porkalam, Thani Vazhi, Indian Ladies, and Madai Thiranthu

Yogi now hopes to place out new music. Not having sufficient new music can be why Yogi will get bored with the tag — ‘the Madai Thiranthu singer’ — that looms massive over his head. Madai Thiranthu, which featured in Yogi B & Natchatra’s debut album Vallavan, was their breakout monitor, and like is the case with artists who discover large success early on, Yogi has been preventing to come back out of his personal shadow. “I do agree that it gets tiring. I don’t blame the fans, but I am trying my best to break it.” And his upcoming album Manthrahood is an try to do this. “This year, I am definitely releasing a single. This new album will be a huge leap from Vallavan.” Yogi, nonetheless, isn’t focussing on movie music for now. “When it comes to film music, I have a few terms and conditions: I won’t do any songs that glorify violence, alcoholism, or anything negative. Naan uthaman nu solla varala (‘I don’t claim to be a great person’), but I am an independent artist, and if I say something negative, it can become a mantra of sorts.”

Catch Yogi B & Natchatra stay at Phoenix Marketcity, Chennai, on January 26 from 6.30 pm onwards

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