Born in Odisha’s Puri, raised in Darjeeling and hustling in Bengaluru – that kind of journey seems inspirational enough just on paper, but rapper Big Deal aka Samir Rishu Mohanty has more than that going for him.
A Japanese mother, an Odia father, a career in Bengaluru as a musician after an MCA degree (the completion certificate for which he never picked up) and a job opportunity at Infosys that he didn’t take up – Samir Rishu Mohanty’s antecedents are decidedly curious.
Samir Rishu Mohanty was 16 when he began rapping. Those days (he is 27 now), people didn’t hesitate to laugh at a rapper — spilling one’s intimate thoughts through rhyming verses was an outlandish concept. But he stood strong and chased his dreams, and now, he has released his debut album ‘One Kid With A Dream’.
A completely crowdfunded project, each song is a page out of his diary and the album weaves a tale that would have otherwise been left untold. He commiserates rightly on the opening track “One Kid”, rapping: “Growing up in Puri, I felt so confused/ Why do I look like no one else in the school? I mean I got small eyes, also a flat nose/ Which is why all guys happened to crack jokes/ Even the teachers treated me like a foreigner/While all I ever wanted to be was an Oriya.” This is set to the Indian melody of a shehnai and thumping beats and shout-alongs, not extraordinary knowing today’s flavour for desi bass and Indian-influenced EDM.
His lyrics are formed around the various experiences, good or bad; he has had in his life. He does not believe in the concept of faking or fabricating his past to form extraordinarily exciting stories. He represents the everyday common man, mango person, “aam admi” and tells their story with witty lines and wordplay to back up his content.
When it comes to rapping, if all you can think of are names such as Eminem, Kanye West, Lil Wayne and Yo Yo Honey Singh, it is time to spare a thought for Big Deal. About his name, the young rapper says, “The phrase is striking. Eminem uses it a lot in his songs and I am a great fan. I wanted a unique name.”
He has released singles such as ‘Rush’, ‘One Kid’, ‘One Time’ and ‘Crash Course’ . He has won awards such as the Radio City best freedom hip hop artist 2016 and Renault freedom music, and has featured in Vh1 rap battles. He has also rapped for Detective Byomkesh Bakshy.
On his journey, Big Deal says, “It began with rhyming, as a hobby at 16. Rapping gradually became my passion and I used to rap for eight to 10 hours. I learnt major rapping techniques by listening to Eminem and online tutorials.”
The rapper has collaborated with various artistes such as Blaaze, June Neelu and Gnie and YouTube sensation Shraddha Sharma.
Talking about the themes he raps about, the artiste says, “My songs are about my experiences. One of my songs, ‘One Kid With a Dream’ deals with the racism I faced when I was growing up in Puri.” It was shot in 3 places, Puri where Big Deal was born, Darjeeling where he studied and Bangalore where he started his rap career.