Hustling to success

CE chats with city- based rapper Kayden Sharma, who is making waves on MTV Hustle 03 Represent with his trending number Street Celebrity.
Kayden Sharma with Badshah on the show.
Kayden Sharma with Badshah on the show.

HYDERABAD: "Street Celebrity,” a rap song loved by every resident of Hyderabad, has been creating waves on social media. All thanks to Kayden Sharma, the artist who has made the city proud with his exceptional talent. The track highlights all the wonderful aspects of Hyderabad, from its delectable biryani to the epic movie RRR. It has undoubtedly become the city’s most popular rap song. Kayden Sharma’s journey and hard work as a rapper are also being showcased on MTV Hustle 03 REPRESENT.

The show is judged by Badshah and has mentors like Ikka, EPR, Dino James, and DeeMC
Reflecting on his journey and the beginning of his rap career, Kayden reminisces, “Back in 2011-2012, when Honey Singh was introduced to India, it marked the first significant rap sensation in the country. His music piqued my interest, and at that time, simply remembering his songs and singing along was a big deal for me. I never imagined that I would one day write my own rap; it was all about remembering someone else’s lyrics and enjoying the process. It was a fun addition to my everyday life.

Then, in 2017, the hip-hop style started gaining traction in India, and I discovered artists like Emiway, Divine, and Raftaar. Around the same time, the movie Gully Boy brought hip-hop into the mainstream, and I found it even more intriguing because it felt like freedom to me. I believed I could express anything through this medium, as I had always been reserved about certain topics. Discovering rap excited me, and I began writing in my notepad. I never initially aspired to be a rapper; I was simply having fun with writing. A year passed, and no one knew that I was writing rap. Then, in 2019, during my second year of intermediate studies, I revealed my rap-writing to a classmate when he played Eminem for me. He was impressed with my abilities, and he insisted that I perform during our college fresher’s party. That’s when I made the decision to pursue this path.”

While discussing his foray into social media and YouTube, he says, “In 2019, after my college performance, I created a YouTube channel and released my first track, which was about my parents. I garnered attention with my debut song, and the audience’s response was genuine and heartfelt. This positive feedback motivated me to create more songs. Since then, I have released around 25 to 30 songs on YouTube. I started at the end of 2019, and it has been approximately four years now. Before joining Hustle, I had around 17,000 subscribers, and after the release of ‘Street Celebrity,’ that number crossed 35,000.

I received significant recognition, and it also brought attention to other rappers in my city.”Kayden Sharma made a remarkable impression on MTV Hustle 03 REPRESENT, and when asked about how he secured the opportunity to be a part of the show, he shares, “During Hustle 2, I had the thought of joining this platform. Seeing artists like MC Square, Paradox, and Sruthi rise to fame on the show gave me the confidence that I could do it too. I had a genuine belief in my abilities. During the auditions for Hustle 3, I received a call from Cup of Tea to represent South India.

They asked me to submit raw video clips. They liked my videos, but MTV initially rejected my application, deeming it unsuitable for the platform. However, they later decided to give me a chance and called me, providing key points like using Allu Arjun as a reference and incorporating elements like biryani and chai in my rap to represent Hyderabad. I created this track, submitted the video, and it received their approval. I went to the Mumbai auditions, where they listened to five tracks, and they liked mine. I was subsequently shortlisted and went to the boot camp for a month, followed by the shooting.”

Regarding his reaction to the widespread acclaim for his rap, he maintains, “My reaction was quite neutral. I already had a gut feeling that this track would make waves. It was something fresh in this season, and I anticipated it would garner attention. The only thing that would truly excite me is if one of my tracks reaches around 1 billion views. It felt good, and for now, I’m trying to keep it low-key.”
When discussing his roots in Hyderabad and his affection for the city, he explains, “I come from a Rajasthani family, and my father settled in Hyderabad in the 1990s. We have become a part of the local culture here. My father had ambitions in Hyderabad, and when I was born, we were living in Rajasthan, but he had already established himself in Hyderabad. I was raised in Hyderabad and received my education here. Since we lived in rented houses, we moved around the city, and Begum Bazar is where I spent most of my formative years and grew up.”

As the only rapper representing South India and Hyderabad, Kayden expresses, “I have a great deal of respect for myself for being the sole representative. There are many talented Hyderabadi rappers who write excellent songs and have a professional approach. They have been a part of Hyderabad since childhood. Despite their presence, I was chosen to represent Hyderabad, and I feel that there is something extraordinary about me. Being the youngest rapper in the city at the age of 20 makes me incredibly proud. I was excited to be a part of the show and to be a significant part of this season. The fact that my first song became a hit, crossing over a million views in just one day, is a major achievement, and I take pride in that.”

Offering advice to aspiring rappers and those who look up to him, Kayden reflects, “I achieved this by thinking outside the box. I never aimed for mediocrity and always had a vision to do something extraordinary. I believe that this mindset has brought me here. For anyone aspiring to be a rapper and make it mainstream, I would say, be authentic in every way. Don’t give others a chance to prove you wrong or inauthentic. Be a real person and a genuine writer. Don’t force yourself to write; write when you truly mean it. When you’re creating a song, think of it as writing one of the world’s biggest hits.”
He concludes by mentioning, “There are more exciting songs coming up in the show, and each one will be extraordinary. I’m not going to stop giving my best to the audience.”

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