People still remember Uniq Poet (Utsaha Joshi) from the Raw Barz battle. His quick wit and swift flow against some of the older and more prominent rappers made quite an impression back then and even now, he is being asked to represent Nepali hip hop on various platforms. Just recently, he was part of the team that flew to Sydney for the Yama Buddha tribute. It was apparently his second Australia trip for a concert. But he still insists that he is a student moonlighting as a rapper, though plans to fully pursue music are in the offing.
Once his BIT studies wrap up, Uniq says, you can expect materials from him. In the meantime, he shares his playlist as well as his views on the country’s hip-hop scene with The Week.
The hype around battles like Raw Barz seems to have faded a little. Do you agree and do you think it affected our current hip-hop scene?
The hype isn’t as intense as it was when we began. Maybe it is because known names aren’t associated with it anymore. But the scene is far from docile. I have 16-year-olds on my Facebook who are absolutely going for it. The talent out there is real. Personally, I think there is a lot to look forward to for Nepali hip-hop fans. The next generation looks even more promising and, to an extent, battles like Raw Barz do play a big role. They help validate the hip-hop scene, especially for these youngsters. And when you see people like Laure coming from it, releasing albums and performing, it’s gives you something to aspire to.
So tell us about your aspirations as well?
After completing my bachelors, I do want to give music a proper go. I have been writing regularly, working with people at Trap Nepal to produce beats and record things. There is a lot of pending materials, ones that I do want to release.
Our hip-hop scene is still very raw, local, and underground. We still have to make majority of the masses understand what our kind of music is all about, so it should be interesting. While staying true to myself, I also want to make my music commercially appealing as well. I know there is potential. I have met older generations who have come across Nepali rap tracks and liked them. It’s usually Yama Buddha’s singles, ones that tackle social stories. After all, they are our stories told in our language.
Now I have support from my family as well. Despite the initial reservations, now they want me to make the music I want. They have just asked me to stop swearing.
Do you still practice rapping a lot?
I used to when I started. I had actually downloaded a book titled How to Rap. I used to write poems and stuff a lot before as well. I’d still call them gibberish but I was used to writing. At the time, I was just trying to rhyme my best but I had to learn how to get into the flow of the beat and rap to it. That required a lot of practice. Along with the book, there were YouTube tutorials and such as well. I taught myself the techniques. Another fellow rapper lived more than 40 minutes from my house. I used to walk up to there and rap all that I had practiced. It made me so happy back then. I was obsessed. But now, I don’t have to practice as much.
Are there any specific things you want to relay via your lyrics?
I don’t know if it is a good habit or a bad one, but once I have written my verses, I don’t like going back to them. I don’t edit or add anything. I find it very hard to get back in that zone. Once I listen to a beat, the lyrics come on its own. Sometimes they are internal sentiments and sometimes it’s just for fun. We shall see what else comes in the future.