Colors of Courage: Rapper Ikka speaks of his humble roots and how he made it to Bollywood’s music scene
Meet Ikka, a prominent rapper who overcame obstacles and put forth a lot of effort to succeed.
Ankit Singh Patyal, who is better known as Ikka is a musician and rapper, who was born and raised in New Delhi. The lad began his career in 2003, when hip-hop wasn’t popular on the local music scene. Speaking of his childhood, he smiles as he recalls how his parents raised him, “My father always put in a lot of effort and excelled in the academics. Although he was eager to join the Indian army, his grandfather's illness forced him to assume parental responsibilities at the age of 14. Along with his mother and father, he took care of his two brothers, his sister, and their parents. He managed everything from school to the household work and has always inspired me to work hard in my life."
Revealing what first sparked his interest in rap music, he recalls, “In 2006, I used to watch international musicians appearing in music videos and on television, and it looked like that was not part of our Indian culture at the time. After all of this, I listened to Bohemia and was shocked to hear a Punjabi rap. I was inspired by that and decided that we should rap in Hindi, which was our native language.”
“Hip-hop was first introduced to me by a friend back then. I used to listen to songs from the 1990s like “Kali kali aankhein gore gore gaal” and had no idea what hip-hop was before that. He then made me listen to Eminem’s ‘Loose Yourself.’ I was mesmerised by everything that was going on in the song, including the beats, melody, and of course the sonics, even though I had no idea what was going on,” Ikka describes thinking back to his upbringing and the music culture.
“I have always been more interested in things that are creative. I never had much interest in the typical 9–5 workday and simply wanted to come up with something original,” adds the hitmaker reminiscing about how he’d once jot down lyrics and memorise them while using the internet in local cyber cafes. However, success didn’t come easy to him. For an independent artist like him, overcoming obstacles was necessary in order to sustain in the music industry.
He says, while reflecting on his early career, “To be heard by the audience, you must be known. A rookie musician cannot overcome the promotions, regardless of how many excellent songs they produce. There are really slim possibilities that your song will suddenly go popular. Listeners need to be sonically fed.”
Ikka has drawn inspiration from many musicians in the Punjabi music industry during his career, including Diljit Dosanjh, Guru Randhawa, and Honey Singh. He reveals, “Even though I was not a Punjabi lyricist, I learnt the language from my friends who were, and I was nominated for best lyrics in Punjab. I also wrote a lot of Punjabi songs for Diljit's films.”
Ikka made his Bollywood debut in 2014. The musician’s rap career soared to new heights after his music was included in several Bollywood movies from Badrinath Ki Dulhania to Satyameva Jayate. For the Indian rapper, music has been a go-to outlet for expressing both his rage toward social institutions and conflicts and his optimism for a future free of such restraints. He says, "I have used my music to spread messages about social issues and some challenges that the society has been confronting. Even in my most recent album, I released a song that discussed suicide and how people can prevent such situations.”
Making art is like a deeply felt pumping, sometimes a painful twist of the heart. Ikka speaks passionately about his work and recent collaboration with Bollywood rapper-singer Badshah for their new song ‘Trap Munde’. “Badshah was the sole artist who gave me the idea to rap in Hindi. Later, as I listened to his music more frequently, I set myself the goal of recording a song with him at some point in the future. His music has always captivated and motivated me. When I had the idea for Trap Munde, I went up to Badshah, who listened to the song and was in amazement. He was quite inclined to perform the song with me, which is how the song came to be.”
The artist, who rose to fame in the Punjabi music business through rapping, talks favourably of the Punjabi music business, saying that it believes in creativity and that Punjabi music focuses on innovation and originality while experimenting with music, sound, and visuals. While many feel that a parallel stream of music has given birth to a worrisome new trend of gangster culture in the Punjabi music industry, Ikka appears to debunk the misconception, “Artists in the Punjabi music business are incredibly grounded and innocent. They drive society to see and perceive what it needs to see and hear. There is a widespread misconception that the industry is rife with gun culture. I notice how hard they work."
“They are completely consumed by their enthusiasm and music. Guns and weaponry are depicted in songs and movies in Bollywood and throughout the entertainment industry,” he rebukes explaining that if society prohibits such things, the music visuals will be eliminated naturally.
The rapper discusses the influence of social media on the music industry and claims that it has changed how people work. “Previously, it took 3–4 years to create an album, but now it only takes a month or so. Additionally, I think that because of reel culture, songs only have a lifespan of 15 to 20 seconds these days. Due to the growth of social media, people have stopped appreciating good music and have lost their taste in it,” he concludes signing off.