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Friday, May 24, 2024

Odyssey 

Swagat, or Shady Mellow, has put his tribe and Assam on the national map with his unique musical vision. Aparmita Das traces his journey before and after his stint in MTV Hustle.

By Aparmita Das

“You just need to have faith in the process, and put in the 10,000 hours or more that it requires. And it’s only a matter of time till your dreams come true,” says Shady Mellow, also known as Swagat, the artiste who defied conventional expectations to follow his musical calling.

In a world where dreams often collide with the practical demands of society, his story – representing the raw spirit of the Northeast and the beats of hip-hop – is a riveting journey through the power of passion, perseverance, and the pursuit of one’s true calling. Born and raised in the heart of Sivasagar, Assam, his path from an engineering graduate to becoming a prominent hip-hop artiste weaves a magnetic tale, infused with the energy of the Northeastern streets and his unrelenting love for music.

Photo instagrammed by Shady mellow

Swagat’s transition to the music industry was no mere flip of a switch but a lyrical evolution fueled by a lifelong yearning for a career in music. He openly confessed, “I never got into any nine-to-five jobs, even after acing my degree. Engineering felt like a safety net, a fallback option in case music didn’t hit the right note.”

It was in Sivasagar that his musical journey found its beginnings. In the labyrinthine internet cafe culture, the fiery spirit of rap found its way into his soul. Inspired by the likes of Mike Shinoda and Eminem, he discovered his calling, setting in motion a lyrical journey deeply rooted in the streets of Northeast India.

Photo credit: MTV India

Swagat’s unwavering commitment to his craft recently propelled him onto the grand stage of MTV Hustle, a nationally recognised platform that has brought the electrifying vibes of hip-hop to the forefront of India’s musical landscape. Speaking passionately about his experience, he remarked, “Being in MTV Hustle, I feel the beat of gratitude coursing through me, and I’m truly blessed. It took years of relentless grind and lyrical sweat to earn my spot among India’s finest hip-hop artistes.”

Yet, for him, this is just the opening verse of a rap with many chapters yet to be written. He sees the show as a launch pad, a stairway to the stars, for not only his musical journey but also as a stepping stone to the grander recognition of hip-hop from the Northeast.

In a region brimming with untapped potential and authentic stories, Swagat is determined to ensure that these voices receive the spotlight they deserve. “I hope me being here, representing Assam and the entire Northeast, adds to the factor that Northeast hip-hop gets more traction and recognition.”

His music, therefore, weaves together not only the beats of the region, but also the hopes and dreams of its people, amplifying their stories and sounds to a wider audience.

He proudly represents his roots, deeply ingrained in the heart of Sivasagar, and the rhythmic spirit of the Mishing tribe. “Being from here has profoundly shaped me as a person. I come from humble beginnings, and an average household, and it’s the quintessential rags-to-riches story. Even though I haven’t reached my final destination in this musical voyage, I’m miles away from where I started. But coming from our roots, landing a spot in MTV Hustle feels like a dream come true on many days.”

Clearly, it’s not just about his personal dream but a powerful connection to his tribe. He takes immense pride in representing his community (Mishing) on the national stage, boldly carrying their unique story and sound. He added, “Even my moniker, Shady Mellow, serves as a homage to the Mishing deities, Shady and Mellow.”

He is on a mission to infuse the traditional sounds of his tribe, nurturing a harmonious blend of a genre and the indigenous rhythms of the Northeast. Hip-hop, in other words, meets heritage.

Photo credit: MTV India

On the stage of MTV Hustle, Swagat adds a touch of his roots to every performance. He proudly dons a traditional Mishing scarf, hanging from his waist. In another episode, he took it a step further by tying an Assamese gamusa to his mic, an emblem of his deep connection to his heritage. In each act, he echoes the vibrant spirit of the region, infusing its culture into the national spotlight.

During his time at NEHU, he was not just an academic but also a lyrical sensation, performing extensively, channelling the spirit of hip-hop into the university crowd. He fondly recalled those vibrant moments, saying, “NEHU! Those four years were the most beautiful years of my life. I find myself missing the campus more than I can put into words, the camaraderie with friends, and that indescribable vibe that pulsed through every corner.”

“Studying at NEHU, my second home, I ache for the vibrant cultural programmes that used to take place at every turn. There were freshers’ parties galore – Assam freshers, general freshers, and department freshers – each a unique rhythm in the grand melody. And who could forget those legendary DJ nights that had us grooving till midnight? It’s more than just missing the campus; it’s longing for a chapter of my life that will forever remain unparalleled,” he reminisced.

The first track Swagat delivered on the show was Rafadafa. This composition is more than just music; it’s a journey of hope, self-acceptance, and the pursuit of success. It carries a poignant message – an anthem urging individuals to cast aside the weight of others’ expectations and self-doubt, inviting them to stay resolute in their unique paths.

Speaking about the song’s origin, he revealed, “The lyrics emerged from a challenging phase in my life. It’s a reflection of my personal journey; a pilgrimage of self-discovery and self-acceptance; an ode to the trials and tribulations we face on the road less travelled – a path often lonely, filled with doubts and insecurities.”

He continued, “In my darkest hour, I wrote this song for myself. It was an inner dialogue, a wake-up call. ‘Swagat, why are you letting others’ opinions about your career, your life, and how you should feel hold you back?’ The song’s message is clear – just be yourself. Stick to your unique path, let go of the baggage, and Rafadafa (shake off) all those burdens. That’s my message to the world – follow your dreams, listen to your heart, stay the course, and persevere.”

Swagat’s lyrics resonate with anyone on their journey towards self-acceptance, embracing their unique path, and chasing the dream they hold close to their hearts. He evidently stands out as an artiste with a vision that transcends borders. In his own words, “What sets me apart from my fellow contestants is that I infuse my music with a distinct Northeastern flavour. I bring my own taste, sound, and unique style of writing into my creations. I don’t just make music; I make art that speaks to my roots, my tribe, and the cultural fabric of Assam.”

Looking ahead, his dreams are as vast as his lyrical vision. It’s not just about numerical growth in terms of views and likes but a profound impact on the listener’s heart and mind. “I’m all about going international. The ultimate goal is to go global, to make music that transcends boundaries, cultures, and languages. I already write in five different languages, and I’m determined to master those skills, weaving a universal symphony through my diverse influences.”

Swagat is a dreamer, but he’s also a doer. With his feet firmly planted in the present and his eyes set on a global horizon, he takes it one step at a time, one day at a time, making every beat and every word count on his path to musical stardom.

Photo credit: MTV India

Swagat’s philosophy for success in the music industry is deeply rooted in the soul of hip-hop. He embraces consistency and discipline as the rhythm and rhyme of his journey, and believes in dedicating relentless hours to refining his craft, showcasing the importance of unwavering patience and steadfast faith in the process. He laid out his mantra for success. “It begins with a clear conviction of where you envision yourself in life. And from there, it’s just a matter of time until your dreams unfurl their wings.”

He further emphasised, “Consistency and discipline are the pillars that bear the weight of your aspirations. You must be steadfast in your pursuit, and unwavering in your dedication. Pour in the time and effort that your dreams deserve. Greatness is not built in haste. A genuine desire to grow, coupled with a reservoir of patience, will light your way.”

In Swagat’s world, time isn’t an adversary; it’s a trusted ally. Your efforts, he assures, will never go in vain if you have faith in the process. It’s a journey that demands the proverbial 10,000 hours or even more – where persistence is the melody, and determination is the chorus. “And it’s only a matter of time till your dreams come true.”

 

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