Ruling over the music charts and everyone’s playlist, Aditya Prateek Singh Sisodia, popularly known as Badshah, has been working towards changing the game for the hip-hop rapping industry. In an exclusive interview with financialexpress.com’s Eshita Bhargava, he talks about his songs, his alter ego, hip-hop music culture in India, depression, creating a legacy, and more. Excerpts from the interview:
When I think of you Badshah, I think of a cool and blingy oversized jacket, baggy pants, and super stylish sneakers. But I want to understand if it gets too much sometimes to carry that image. What is Aditya’s style like?
I always loved fashion even before I became Badshah. The only thing that changed with the success is that I could afford the more expensive stuff. Before I entered the industry, I was buying sneakers and jackets, but it was not premium stuff. I’m not a fan of putting a facade, you get what you see. On an everyday basis, I’m not dripping in brands and bling. If you come to my home, you’ll see me in a T-shirt and shorts. I wear a cap because I don’t like doing my hair. It’s my job to put on a different persona when I am working. That part of me is an employee of Badshah, the brand.
Do you think luxurious brands add to the style? Or being able to carry what you have can make you stand out?
Style needs to be a personal statement. I invest in brands that I resonate with. I don’t follow the trends, I make them. You stand out when you’re confident and comfortable in your own skin, the brands are just the extra layering. If you notice the whole pop lifestyle movement, it’s rarely about the brands and more about the individuals.
I want to understand something – Your Instagram handle is called BadBoyShah and your clothing line is BADFIT. What is this fascination with the word Bad?
My moniker is the exact opposite of who Aditya is. It’s a way of appeasing my alter ego because in reality I’m your simple boy next door who doesn’t like the bling or the parties. I was always an obedient down-to-earth child. I played by the rule book and never got myself into any trouble in my early days. So, when I entered the music scene, I created this alter ego who is the wild poster boy that I’m not. Let’s say I’ve always been too good all my life, and being bad, even for the sake of a public avatar, sometimes helps push the boundaries!
You visited Tata Memorial Hospital. What made you do that?
Music teaches you goodness. You see I meet a lot of influential people and most of them aren’t good people. So, I decided that I’d let music help me become a good person. My greatness shows by my goodness and I use music as a medium.
What makes it important for you to give back to society?
Giving to others is a gift to yourself. It’s not about giving back because you’re a celebrity or that you’re financially blessed, it’s about your responsibility as a human to help others, in whatever small way you can. What you unleash into the universe, has a way of finding itself back to you. If you want more love, you need to love others, if you want more respect, you need to respect others!
What are the things you keep in mind while writing your songs? How do you ensure that they are peppy and stay with the audience?
I’m just very fluid with the process. I don’t have a set template and ideas and inspiration just came to me impromptu. I love that my party anthems resonate with fans, and every time one of my numbers is played at a wedding or a celebration, I feel like I’m a part of the milestone moment creating memories, and I’m very grateful for that. But I’m also keen to explore a different creative space, like I did in O.N.E. It’s a very personal work; the guy in those songs is the real me. I want to explore that side of me more and write more lyrical songs. I have to meet the demands of the market. I’m not complaining — but I’m at that juncture where I need to find new ways to explore my creativity. It’s a huge pressure to be a hitmaker. The most difficult bit about the last few years has been to stay consistent and relevant. My biggest fear is not maximizing my full potential. I don’t want to miss out on anything. My goal is to be better than my last project.
Does creative satisfaction ever get compromised in the number game and competition or have you managed to find a way to keep them separate?
The views aren’t a definition by any means to a song’s success. The consumption model needs to steer away from the whole views and likes theory, because an artist who isn’t established may rely on this feedback to determine a song’s popularity. I’d say if your audiences like the song and show you appreciation, keep working at it till you reach a point where the views or likes don’t matter. Because titles and records are nothing when you can’t sustain a faithful fanbase or have fans coming out to support you at public performances.
What does a day in the life of Badshah look like?
Always hustling, always on the go and being grateful for the gift of life. It’s a whirlwind of meetings, promotional shoots and fan interactions. I’m a late riser, I start off the day with a prayer for being alive, followed by checking the news and keeping myself updated on current affairs. I like to be disciplined about my workout though most of my meals are on the go since I’m either traveling, touring, shooting or meeting people. I don’t like interacting with so many people, but I don’t have a choice.
Do you ever fear that you can lose that crown?
Someday I know I’ll have to give up the titles and the status just like any other top tier artist. I’m well aware that my music has a shelf life. I don’t know how easy it will be, when that day comes, for me to walk away. But it won’t jolt me. I want to leave a legacy behind graciously, but it’s not happening anytime soon.
Where does that strength to persevere come from?
I think faith, hope, and God. When you come from a place of being one of those kids that was counted out and you get a shot to prove your worth, you’re just going to keep going, grinding, because that’s all you got. Music is all I got for real. I’m not selling out for fame or wealth. Accept the good and bad as being beautiful. God tests you and how much of life you can handle when you say you love life. We have to take life on its terms and not on our own terms.
What is the most misunderstood thing about being Badshah?
Let’s say I’ve grossly been misunderstood but I’m not looking to be understood anymore. I have a great inner circle and they know the real me and that’s all that matters. But the biggest misconception is that Badshah didn’t have to go through trials and tribulations and I bought my success. People need to understand that success is not served à la carte, it’s a buffet and my hunger and hard work has rewarded me with this success.
Badshah, you have never been shy while talking about depression and body positivity. Can you please tell my readers how it has been for you? And what kept you going?
You have to hit rock bottom. That’s the way up. The struggle of a comeback is beautiful. Without a test there is no testimony. I’m being more honest than ever before with myself and those around me. I’ve been making myself a top priority, and not catering to social expectations expected out of me. It’s been a hard journey but it’s very therapeutic. Social media and the constant broadcasting of self for public consumption is not ideal for mental health or relationship to our inner world.
One thing that I’ve noticed about Punjabi songs, in particular, is that a lot of cuss words are used, and women are often objectified. Why do you think it happens and why are we not making a sincere effort to stop it?
The way audiences perceive creativity is a very subjective matter. Something might sound like something to someone, and it might sound entirely different to someone else. Yes, some might not like the lyrics, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are vulgar or disrespectful. For me personally, I’ve always encouraged women empowerment and support causes that leverage this narrative.
A lot of youngsters follow you; does it add an additional responsibility to do things in the right way?
It’s always a blessed thing to be able to be in a position to enrich the lives of others, not just materialistically but also at a soul level. I have always been someone who goes the extra mile to add qualitative value to my interactions and I guess that responsibility has doubled down in the last couple of years. I’m very conscious of the fact that I’m a mentor and it’s a role I take very diligently.
What is your source of happiness?
It’s in Chandigarh, I’m the happiest with my family. My family keeps me grounded. Even if I want to be a star, they don’t let me be one.
How many pairs of sneakers do you own?
I’m a sneakerhead. I have over 500 pairs and it’s only increasing.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on a few collaborations, new songs, new tours and some new business ventures. I really want to take the Indian music banner ahead and make an impact globally now. I’d like to lead from the front.