Swami Baracus is a West London artist with a furious power that has been building for years. A regular on the radio he now has his Way Of The Dragon release out, which is the first track from his future mixtape The Recipe. Nikhil Sharma caught up with Swami to get the background info on this and and more, so read on.
Where did the name Swami Baracus come from?
Swami Baracus: Basically, it comes from two sides of my personality musically… a Swami is one of the higher order of spiritual preachers, which reflects in the conscious side of my lyrics. Baracus, of course, comes from BA Baracus in the A-Team, providing the aggressive, raw, powerful element of the hard rhymes.
How did you get introduced to Hip-Hop?
Swami Baracus: I was always into rap music from an early age, but that was more the easy kids stuff of Kid N Play and Hammer. Though my first real introduction into the real world of Hip-Hop was this compilation my brother got from one of his mates, called 'Rap Attack'. It changed my life! Hearing Cypress Hill, Funkdoobiest, Tribe Called Quest and more for the first time, made me an instant fan… and I've been hooked ever since.
Being an Asian artist, what has the reaction been from your own community?
Swami Baracus: Really positive. There's a whole community of Asians that aren't able to relate to Bhangra, so they find solace in music like Hip-Hop. Obviously you'll have sceptics, but that comes with every genre of music. Though I've been surprised to see that true lyricism isn't lost in the mind of our young communities.
What are your views on the Hip-Hop world at this moment?
Swami Baracus: Well it's more positive recently. There's been a new generation of lyricists coming through, keeping themselves true to the original craft. I've always thought there's a place for everything in Hip-Hop, but when it becomes too saturated in any one form, the music suffers. I can listen to trap music, but not when it's utilised in every track I hear! There is good music out there, but you have to look for it, rather than it being as easily accessible to the masses.
What are you listening to at the moment?
Swami Baracus: Obviously Kendrick's doing it big at the moment. I'm feeling Action Bronson a lot, his last mixtape with the Alchemist was literally music to my ears! I'm liking that Joey Badass is reaching out to the legends for tunes. Other than that, still listen to 90s music to bring inspiration for the creative process.
How did you develop your lyrical skills?
Swami Baracus: Well as said, I grew up listening to 90s Hip-Hop, and the one thing key in that era, is you had to be super-lyrical for fans to even give you a second listen. So I've always kept to that ethic even now, never changing up or dumbing things down. Obviously not every track requires verbal linguistics thrown at it(!), but I try to stay true to that aspect of rap. It comes with years of being a fan of the music first, before an artist.
You’ve worked with some big names in the Asian urban industry (Mandeep Sethi, TaZzZ, Nihal), how did you work with these guys and how does it feel to be able to work with these guys who are all in the same boat?
Swami Baracus: When everyone's striving to achieve the same goals, it's always more beneficial if everyone supports each other to make that happen. Therefore collaborating is a strong way to attain that. I'm not bigger than any other artist with the same focus and drive, so it's good to work with like-minded people. Nihal has always supported me from day one, something I fully appreciate.
How did the track This DJ with DJ Dips come about?
Swami Baracus: It was a similar process as all collaborations, his label reached out to me for the track. It's mad, as it's not the normal type of track that I usually make, hence it intrigued me more than anything! However, there was a lot of good vibe during the making of the track, which reflects in the energy and camaraderie in the video.
Does Indian music have an influence on your sound?
Swami Baracus: Not really, but I have made tracks with an Asian influence and will continue to do so. With me, it's all about the vibe of the track, so regardless of what the music consists of, if it's something I can vibe to, than I'm all good to work with it. Though it's not something that initially influences the creative making process.
Top 10 dead or alive Hip-Hop artists?
Swami Baracus: Whoa… This will definitely take some conscientious thinking! If it's in no particular order, and I can include groups as an 'artist' then… Nas, Big Pun, Biggie, Jay-Z, Wu Tang, Eminem, Mobb Deep, Gangstarr, Tribe Called Quest and… prob Jada. I know I've left off loads that I'll kick myself on later!
Are there any underground artists that you would like to work with and why?
Swami Baracus: Yes, lots! There's so many producers who I'd love to work with. As far as artists, people like Klashnekoff, Ty, Blak Twang, more of the legends of the UK hip-Hop scene would be great to work with. People that have inspired me in developing my craft during these years.
What does the future hold for Mr Baracuda?
Swami Baracus: Well I've just released Way Of The Dragon, which is the first track released from my forthcoming mixtape The Recipe (together with the title track, of course). So that's releasing soon, plus I have two more videos to shoot for it. Other than that, just more collabs, gigs and features to make 2013 as successful as last year!
Any advice for aspiring Hip-Hop artists?
Swami Baracus: Just stay true to your craft. Never think you're the finished article and always develop your flow, delivery and lyrics. Be original to stand out and make your mark, you never want to be lost in the crowd. And finally, invest in yourself as an artist and a brand. The power of visuals and imagery can go a long way to gaining exposure to the masses.
Swami Baracus: Thank you to EVERYONE who's ever listened to, downloaded, supported, tweeted, messaged or liked my music. The Baracuda army have been ever faithful and helped making the music that much more worthwhile. Remember, The Recipe mixtape is out soon on FREE download, so will need all your help and support in getting that out there… Much love to all!