Hiphop Tamizha Adhi: I don’t hesitate to apologise when I’m wrong
The compers-actor returns to his roots with the recently-released independent album, Naan Oru Alien
Hiphop Tamizha Adhi, who has been busy acting in and composing for films in the last couple of years, has returned to his roots with a new independent album titled Naan Oru Alien. Along with his friend Jeeva, he came up with the brand, Hip Hop Tamizha, in 2012. An enthusiastic Adhi shares over a phone call that the initial plan was to come up with Hiphop Tamizha 2 this year. "Though we have been releasing at least one independent single every year, the plan of releasing a full-fledged album was still unrealised. We thought we would do that early this year, but then coronavirus intervened. So, we put HHT2 on hold and have come up with something entirely new, relevant to our current scenario." He goes on to explain the name of the album, Naan Oru Alien. "I am proud to be a Tamizhan, but if society is going discriminate people with labels like Tamizhan, Kannadiga or something else, I would rather stay away from the toxicity and identify myself as an alien."
The six track-album has come out to positive reception, which Adhi says is both heartening and surprising. "The music label is happy with the numbers and we have always wanted to turn independent music into a viable business model. The success of Naan Oru Alien has taken us a step closer to that goal." He recalls the time when they started out as independent musicians. "We have nobody to look up to, and had to find our own way. Later, we thought we could bring about swift change, but realised that a strong music ecosystem needed to be created first." Adhi states that his recent initiative, Underground Tribe, a platform for independent musicians from all over the State to exhibit their talent, is a significant step in achieving this vision. "We have started to curate exceptional talent. I see my younger self in a lot of the new artistes. In a few years, I am confident that this forum will give rise to performers even bigger than Hiphop Tamizha. The Latin hip-hop industry reached its present popularity only in recent years. If they can make it, so can we!"
Hiphop Tamizha is also involved in Tamizh research and the pair came up with a research documentary named Tamizhi, last year. “Initially, I was impulsive and emotional when it came to Tamizh,” says Adhi. “I was proud to be someone who was speaking the world's oldest language. Slowly, I felt I needed to validate this emotion with facts. So purely out of love for Tamizh, we started work on Tamizhi, an initiative that probes into the history of the language." Adhi and his team, who are remain involved in the research, have plans to come up with one more documentary and to compile all their work and publish it in detail as a book. "Tamizh has among the richest heritages in the world. I am grateful for what our forefathers have contributed to the language. But this isn't enough. We must do more to sustain the momentum and take Tamizh to future generations," he adds.
Criticism is an inevitable consequence of fame. Adhi's recent tweet advising people to drink nilavembu kashayam, has come in for some criticism. "It wasn't a personal suggestion. I just echoed the recommendation of the Ministry of Ayush. I even posted a video to make sure people didn’t take my recommendation in a wrong sense."
Adhi says he isn’t one to hesitate about apologising, should any mistake be on his side. "Club Le Mabbu Le came out in 2012 and received criticism for being misogynistic. I had grown up in a close and conservative circle in Coimbatore. When I came to Chennai, the cultural differences overwhelmed me. After the criticism the song received, I felt bad though, and apologised."
Does all this attention intimidate him? "I would say I am thankful," he quickly replies. “I would be a nobody without all this love and recognition. I have reached a space where I understand haters are inevitable. But I am happy that their percentage feels insignificant compared to the ones who value our work."
I steer the conversation towards his upcoming work in cinema and ask if he is a part of the Thani Oruvan sequel. "We haven't been officially approached yet, but I am positive that Raja anna will call us once the film gets a proper launch." Adhi shares that the audience can expect a Hiphop Tamizha directorial in the future too, and lets out that script work is underway. He will also be seen playing the lead in an upcoming Sathya Jyothi production venture. "I treat every opportunity of mine as my last. I tell myself that if I falter with one, I’ll plummet straight down. So I try to give it all I have," he signs off.