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Interview: Bella on New Album ‘Way Above’ & ‘Prove Them Wrong’ Mixtape, Biggest Influences in Hip-Hop, Mental Health & More

Photo: Neofox Media

On the 50th Birthday of Hip-Hop, Indian rapper, record producer & songwriter Bella, born Deepak Singh, linked up with Culture Haze for a brief stop backstage right after his evocative live set in Gurugram, Haryana.

Recognised for various flagrant rap records which sit right at the centre of slick 808s and immersive autotune, Bella has established himself as one of the finest emcees and record producers in Indian rap music.

During the conversation, Bella reveals exclusive details about his upcoming mixtape “Prove Them Wrong” and its follow-up rap LP “Way Above”, talks about his most considerable influence in Hip-Hop Kendrick Lamar, and gives Hip-Hop his flowers on the historic day.

Further, the former MTV Hustle Winner briefly talks about his debut EP “Chemical Reactions” with Def Jam Recordings India, takes us through his iced-out jewelry, and leaves a deeply personal message for his fans.

Read our evocative conservation with Delhi’s rap pioneer Bella here.

That was a crazy performance out there. How did it feel?

In Delhi, it’s the first time that I, my brother Raga and everyone… Chaar Diwaari… all of us are together for a performance… Agsy too. I mean this is unique, I never thought that I’d reach this level this quickly when I started rapping. It’s not quick obviously… but for my personal achievement, I’m proud yeah and this is the moment.

Hip-Hop turns 50! What does that mean to you?

50 years of Hip-Hop, right. What I feel is… I think what I’m doing is beyond everything. It’s been 50 years… it’s been 10 years since I’ve been around here and I’m not much aware about who is where. I’m just aware that everyone is working really hard and this will continue for 500 years instead of 50. Indian Hip-Hop is gonna be on the bigger stage… a bigger level. Across the border too.

The rap scene which I’m gonna create in the next five years… I’m telling you right now… in the next five years, what’s gonna happen to Indian music through my own music… that’d be legacy.

Are we looking at another album in the works, perhaps?

Right now, I have a mixtape in the works. “PROVE THEM WRONG”. We’re on the second track now. On “Wonderboy”… five tracks are still remaining for it to be called a finished project.

After that, there will be an album. It’s titled “Way Above”. It’s gonna be a huge album. No one around the world has the slightest idea about what Bella is bringing. So, yeah. Let’s f—— go for it.

Can we expect a lot of experimentation in the album or is it the classic Bella sound?

Well, I’m certainly doing experiments now. All the mixtapes and albums that I’m trying to release now… I’m experimenting (with my sound) in all of them.

However, when “Way Above” arrives, it’ll not have any experimentalism… it’ll have everything that is the best about me. The LP will consist of the 10 best songs of Bella. Think what it’s gonna be!

You just released the “Chemical Reactions” EP.

Yessir, yessir!

I want to talk about “Kendrick Wala Gaana’ from that EP. How did you find influence from Kendrick Lamar out of everyone?

Kendrick Lamar because… see, I’m the biggest fan of Travis Scott, Kanye West… I’m really inspired by them… J. Cole… but Kendrick Lamar bro… when his music reaches my ears, my whole body is thrilled! I get goosebumps and I wonder that bro… Lyricism is a different thing, flow is a different thing but the way… the way he claims his shit! I admire that.

So, when I dropped “Chemical Reaction”, for a long time I thought about what would people think and what they wouldn’t. Then I came to “Kendrick (Lamar) Waala Gaana”… in that, I went like think whatever you want. I’m Kendrick Lamar. This is my shit and I own this shit.

We gotta talk about your performance. You actually threw your necklace. You got a nice watch on your wrist. Very icey. Can you take us through that?

Brother, my mom gifted me this watch. And bro this one… love, right? It’s a lethal snake. It’s all snake shit. Whether that’s your friend, your lover or anything… I don’t believe in anyone, I believe in myself only and my music. My fans are enough for me… to keep me alive.

Everything else that was on my neck and my hands, I gave back to the people because it’s because of them that I earned it. It was from them.

A lot of fans here said that your music has saved their lives. Does that pressurize you as an artist?

When Virat Kohli was made the captain, didn’t he feel pressurised?

But that’s sports. You’re connected with millions of hearts through music.

Yessir. But at times, you just have to bat at the forefront.

I’ll give you a context. If somebody is going through a difficult time, they’ll not watch a Virat Kohli match but will listen to your songs. So does that make you wonder about what kind of music you want to put out?

You didn’t grasp how I dodged the question because I do not want to answer that… because of the condition in which I’m right now… I’m going through a mental illness and I’m not able to talk about it… I’ve told a lot of people about this but they don’t get it..

This doesn’t pressurise me. It’s like… if I stop writing about music or I’ll begin writing songs in any other way, Will it have the same impact? Will my fans still support me? So, it’s more of a question in my head. It doesn’t pressurise me as such but that question is eating me from the inside. I want to go on a different level. I wanna go… and save the whole world. Not just the society we’re in.

Any last words for your fans?

Believe in yourself. Listen to the music that you like. It doesn’t have to be me only but listen to the ones who truly inspire you and make you happy because it’s meaningless to pretend to be a fan of someone’s music.

All of us are walking around with a foul mask on… it doesn’t mean anything, bro. Whether you’re a fan of me or someone else, be an honest fan. Nothing else. That’s the fan I want! That right there!

Watch our exclusive backstage interview with Bella below.