HYDERABAD: Starting off as a self-taught and self-motivated rapper, Rahul Velpula more popularly (and almost exclusively) called Roll Rida, has now become more of an internet sensation than he has already been in the past. All thanks to the attention he got through the TV show Bigg Boss Season 2. His viewership and fanbase which was reserved to the internet, has now reached every Telugu household and Roll intends to use this influence for the good.
Basking in the success of his recent release, Raadhu a rap song based memes, Roll has a lot to say. After a heart-wrenching video – Arupu showcasing the misery of women in today’s pretentious society - Raadhu on the other hand is more lighthearted and touches upon all the Telugu memes that trended in recent times. It features Nitish - “the Raadhu Boy” - who became the butt of all internet jokes after the video of him being caught drunken driving and yet arguing with the cops about them not even knowing the spelling of ‘government’ and ‘psychology’ went viral. “Meeku government spelling ocha? Raadhu!” he declared in the video and hence the name.
Taking that in context, Roll got him to feature in the video meant to release for New Years Eve and had him apologise and warn people to refrain from drunken driving. Now with the success of the same, Roll agrees that his experience in Bigg Boss has elevated his influence. Speaking to Hyderabad Express about his plans and his life after Bigg Boss Season 2, here’s what he’s got to say.
After something so serious and heavy like Arupu, how did you chance upon the idea of Raadhu?
New Year is the time when there’s a lot of drunken driving cases that happen. And it is something that I have always wanted to create something about. Years ago I once witnessed an accident - two drunken youngsters died driving rashly on the Begumpet flyover one night and it has been a message that I actively give people.
Kamran (my music director) and I have been thinking of doing something on the issue for a long time when we came across Nitish’s viral video. Now drunken driving isn’t the kind of issue where you can calmly preach like we did in Arupu. It needs to be entertaining it needs to draw people in. So we picked up the guy who went viral and was trolled for drunken driving, used his catchphrase and made a song making fun of random things. Of course, this included myself as well! We finally ended it with him saying that he made a mistake by driving drunk and warning the audience to not do the same. And it worked wonders!
How has the reception been?
As the video had released just a little before New Year’s, we had a lot of people taking to it and sharing it in an attempt to tell their friends to not drive drunk. There have been hundreds of TikTok (media app for short videos) videos surfacing over the song. People who can’t tell their loved ones directly have been using this video to warn them against drunken driving. The video has already crossed a million views and counting.
We hear there has also been a lot of hate that you are getting for vaguely referencing your fellow participant in the video...
I made fun of myself also! (laughs) Frankly, I always believe that you have to tell what you’ve got to tell. There’s always going to be a reaction. And I also think we as celebrities shouldn’t be reading comments, because that will only lead to negativity. Even people who are taking my side will end up fighting others and I don’t want that. I don’t want to riddle myself with this negativity. The song is a hit. I am getting messages from all over the world appreciating it. I just want to absorb all this positivity and work on my next project.
What is this next project?
It’s going to be a story of a daughter and her father, and there’s going to be a lot of emotion packed into it. That’s just my immediate plan of action. I have a lot coming up for my fans as well. I understand that it’s not fair for them to have to wait three months for one video. So we are planning a full audio album consisting of 10 rap songs, in different genres, different concepts and styles - like a biryani! And later I plan to make video songs of whichever song from the audio album becomes the biggest hit.
Looks like life’s busy after Bigg Boss...
I was working on albums and creating music even before Bigg Boss. But post Bigg Boss, I feel more responsible. I am influencing people and youth in particular are looking up to me. So I try to make sure I show what I believe. Before people knew me only through my music but now they know me as a person. I am not just some “gully poradu” now I’m their “inti porodu”!
What do you plan on doing with this newfound popularity?
Even before I went into the Bigg Boss house, I said that I am doing this to bring the Telugu rap culture into the forefront. May be before I was a part of Bigg Boss only those interested in rap knew me. But because of the show even those who aren’t familiar with this kind of music have become acquainted with it. My rap in the show was indeed made fun of, but at least that way they know Telugu rap is a possiblity.
Now, I have school kids send me lines they’ve written as a rap. I started when I was in engineering and it took me 10 years to make something out of it. If today’s kids are starting early then it will get them on track sooner. I don’t even want to be selfish and just think of my growth. I want to collab with other Telugu rappers get the culture going. Even if I am gone tomorrow, there will be other rappers to keep it alive. And that’s what I want to begin.
What do you want to tell youngsters who find rapping as their passion?
You can’t be taught rap. You have to find your own rhythm and your own words. You have to struggle and have a story of your own which will fill the emotion that your words need. I tell youngsters to just start off. Use Soundcloud (audio sharing platform) for free tracks and record yourself, post it online. Even if one of your 10 attempts gets noticed, then you win.
I also have plans of starting a rap institute – Rapstitute – when the time is right. And it will guide those seeking a livelihood in rapping just as a medium to get in touch with producers, understanding the audience, creating a USP and such. Anyone can only guide you to your path, you’ll have to find your own way.