From ragging to rapping

rapper Rahul Kumar aka Roll Rida speaks about his unconventional foray into rapping and singing for Tollywood’s bigwigs

Published: 29th January 2015 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th January 2015 10:36 PM   |  A+A-

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HYDERABAD: From a scared young student to a confident rapper in the Telugu film industry, Rahul Kumar’s journey has been truly riveting. A student of CVR College of Engineering, Hyderabad, Rahul Kumar aka Roll Rida was completely oblivious to the world of rapping and never imagined that he would be the voice of popular Tollywood stars, the greatest moment being when he rapped for Pawan Kalyan in the recently released Gopala Gopala. For Rahul this experience was indescribable.

“It is a dream come true and I never thought that from being a student who didn’t know what rap was, I’d be singing for powerstar Pawan Kalyan. I was called to the studio for a rap song and I didn’t know what song it was and I didn’t even know whom it was for. On the third day, I went up to my music director and told him that I would like to know the scene, so that the lyrics would be in sync with it. The moment he showed me the scene, I was shell-shocked to see that it was for powerstar Pawan Kalyan,” says an overwhelmed Roll Rida.

“All this while I thought it was just another simple rap, but the moment I realised it was for powerstar Pawan Kalyan, I turned completely blank and became very conscious all of a sudden. I spent nearly four hours on a job that would normally take me 15-20 minutes. It was really challenging but also extremely rewarding. It’s an experience that I will never forget,” he says, clearly awe-struck.

This 26-year-old never imagined this is where he would land up because his entry into the rapping world was unexpected.  “I liked some of the songs by Linkin Park and memorised them. I was in my first of year of college, so my seniors asked me to sing a song as part of their ragging ritual.. I was so nervous that I quickly blurted out lines from ‘Papercut’ by Linkin Park. Impressed, they ordered me to rap a song for them every single day,” recalls Rahul.

And thus began his journey – from ragging to rapping.

“In order to rap for my seniors, I used to search for new songs everyday and soon started doing my own research and eventually enjoyed it,” he explains.

However, Roll Rida wasn’t an instant hit and he admits that it took a while for his music to get appreciated and acknowledged. “Once I had a command over rapping, I was asked to perform for our annual day function and it turned out to be a complete flopshow. It was only in the second year that people started to recognise my potential,” Rahul shares.

His first break came when a video of his college band featured in a VH1 show, alongside the likes of Eminem and 50 Cent. “Soon, my friend introduced me to a music director and one of my numbers for dance show, Jagadam became a hit and I soon started getting calls from other music directors from the industry,” reveals the rapper, who  worked with music directors like Keeravani, S Thaman and Anoop Rubens.

“My first experience with Tollywood was when I worked with S Thaman for Brindavanam in 2010. I then worked with Keeravani sir for Vedam and then rapped for Akhil Akkineni in Manam, which was a huge moment, considering it was his first foray into films,” expresses an excited Rahul.

He works as a quality analyst at Tech Mahindra during  the day and becomes Roll Rida by the night. Sharing the challenges of juggling between both professions, he says, “It has been tough for me at times but I must give credit to my parents, who have been extremely supportive. Even though they do not understand my music, they appreciate my work and encourage me to continue,” says Rahul, who will be launching his first Telugu rap single titled ‘O Pilla’ on February 14.

The rapper has also carved a niche in Telugu rap and feels that music has no barriers.

“Unlike others, I choose to rap only in Telugu rather than in English. I noticed that there were several rap artists in Tamil and Kerala but not many Telugu rap artists. So I decided to rap only in Telugu,” he adds.

Roll Rida will next be going behind the mike for NTR Jr’s upcoming film Temper. He will also be singing for Anushka Shetty’s upcoming untitled flick.

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