Indian imprint of Nas’ iconic label, Mass Appeal India, and India’s premier Hip-Hop star and a significant name in India’s ‘gully rap’ movement DIVINE’s Gully Gang have collaborated once again to curate an exclusive and emotionally driven Hip-Hop and rap compilation album titled “SHUTDOWN”, primed to become a fan favourite, the album is inspired by the stay-at-home circumstances for intentional and therapeutic listening amidst the rise of an unprecedented pandemic. Artists Divine, D’Evil and Shah Rule spoke in an exclusive conversation with G20 about the album. Excerpts:

Q. What’s the reason for titling this album / EP as Shutdown?

Divine: It’s a wordplay seeing as a lot of the music was created while we have been in lockdown due to the pandemic. It’s something that happened despite the shutdown of the normal way of life rather than because of it. The title celebrates that spirit.

D’Evil:  We released it when everything was shut down globally due to the pandemic shutdown also metaphorically means “shut down someone’s business or to excel in your work beating the competition

Q. There are a lot of collaborations in the tracklist, how did you reach about there? What was the process of scouting?

Divine: We primarily worked across the Gully Gang Roster and with artists we frequently collaborate with or have been working with on other projects. A lot of the tracks happened organically where one artist had laid down a verse or a hook on a beat that they were working on and thought of bringing on another artist or two for the rest of the track. It was a free-flowing process, the unplanned element of it allowed easy collaboration plus the understanding between the artists makes the creative process flow naturally.

D’Evil: We had some songs we did as a label at our songwriting camp. that later became a part of this EP collaborations are done out of respect and appreciation for another artist. As we vibe and jam together. We collaborate.

Shah Rule: The whole EP is a culmination of multiple songwriting camps and in music, collaboration is an essential part of any camp. Demos turned into full song arrangements, empty spaces turned into features from outside the Gully Gang camp, and ultimately a shortlist of the best tracks make it mixing and mastering. There wasn’t really a process of scouting, all the collaborators on this project are friends and fans of one another, it’s only right we make good music for ourselves and our fans.

Q. Tell us about the distribution process, and how are you going to promote it amidst the pandemic, since you won’t be traveling for gigs and concerts?

Divine:  We’ve chosen to look at doing many fan led activities through social media, since we cannot perform this in front of them as we would have liked, we’re coming up with ways to involve them as much as possible and create a unique listening experience.

D’evil:  Mostly internet, streaming apps, youtube, Instagram. Songs have been distributed the same way, even before the pandemic. shows would only be packed after a song does great on the internet. this is personally for me, maybe different for other artists.

Q. How is the public receiving the album so far, and what about the critics?

Divine: While I haven’t read many reviews, the fan response so far tells us that it’s something they were looking forward to, and it’s just a taste of music that’s due to come from Gully Gang this year, with albums/EP’s from Aavrutti, D’Evil, MC Altaf, Shah Rule and myself due soon!

D’Evil: It has definitely pleased the core Gully Gang audience and brought in new listeners. It’s the first time hearing the whole camp on one project, and as a team, we are still relatively young as we just completed a year together. It’s a different experience for the listener, as Indian Hip-Hop is still growing, we offer a  project like this at the highest quality, amidst a global pandemic. The fans are definitely pleased and hungry for more. Critics have rated this project very well but to me, the fans opinions and our own, are the ones who matter most.