DA 69’s second innings

The old-school rapper is now in the course of coping up with the changing landscape of rap music.

Prasun Sangroula

  • Read Time 5 min.

Kathmandu: For the last three years, Sudin Pokharel, alias DA 69, has dropped one new music video each year. In 2019, he released a music video for ‘Josh’, which marked his comeback in music after a hiatus of seven and a half years. Josh tells of how the music scene has fallen into the wrong hands. Likewise, it also gives the message of his return to the industry. In 2020, he released music videos for ‘Samriddhi’ and ‘Mirtyu’. And recently in 2021, another music video for ‘Jwala’ hit YouTube.

Pokharel, who has spitted bars in all-time hit numbers like ‘Ma Yesto Chu’, ‘Pahilo Maya’, and ‘Ma Prem Ma (She is the bomb)’, among others, is in the second innings of his musical career and his consistency in it for the last three years proves that he is playing well.

Before making a comeback, he did an experiment. One fine day, he just sang a line from ‘Ma Prem Ma (She is the bomb)’ and uploaded it on his social media. The responses he received surprised him.

His experience in this current music scene is different. The music scene today is different in many ways, lyrically, musically, and technologically.

“Unlike in the past there is no pressure whether my song will be a hit or not,” said Pokharel.  “Back then, there used to be pressure  and competition to sell the albums, but now the matter is about garnering views.”

His latest music videos have a good number of views—‘Mirtyu’, the most viewed, has over 1,42,000 views. For him the comment in those music videos carries much more value. He reads all of them.  

Those comments are not only about his music but they also made him realize that the people still remember his voice, and they are really happy and excited about his comeback. While on the other side, he has also noticed that the younger generation is oblivious to him.  

“Some of them even write, ‘Who is this guy?’ in the comment box,” Pokharel said. It’s one of the challenges for the second innings—to take his music among the newer generations—he is working on it, he said.

The hip-hop scene of Nepal is thriving. Pokharel admires many newcomers and believes that those MCs are better than him in many ways. Some of the rappers Pokharel follows are Balen, Uniq Poet, V-ten, and Laure. “These artists are literate about music and have a dope sense for it,” said Pokharel.

The old-school rapper is now in a course of coping up with the changing landscape of rap music. These days there are many platforms for artists to promote their work. Pokharel is also learning to make those platforms fruitive for his works. Likewise, he is also surprised looking at the ease that technology has made in creating the music. He recalls the time when it used to take more than a day to produce a beat for a single song.

In this new beginning, Pokharel discerns changes in his writing style. According to him, it has become more mature now.  At this point, he feels uneasy to write fancy lyrics that are meant to impress girls. These days he writes more about life and struggles.

“Now if I just record my vocal and send it to the producers they send me back varieties of beats, it feels tough to choose one among them.”

In this new beginning, Pokharel discerns changes in his writing style. According to him, his lyrics have become more mature now. At this point, he feels uneasy to write fancy lyrics that are meant to impress girls. These days he writes more about life and struggles.

A snippet of lyrics from his song ‘Josh’ goes: “Jindagi ko paribhasa bujdai thiye /  Pariwar ko aakanshyalai pura gardai thiye / Jiudai thiye jindagi mokshya ko khojima /  Maagka suchiharu bhariyeko gojima. [Was understanding the meaning of life /  fulfilling the family’s desire/living life in search of salvation/pocket filled with demands’ list].

Pokharel is also worried about those artists who, despite their formidable talent, are still lurking in the shadows.

“There are many artists with genuine work in our music sector, but they are living under the shadows,” said Pokharel. “Their works are authentic but are being dominated by something that lacks originality and is worthless to listen to.”

The new version of DA 69 is struggling against the music companies. They are not allowing him to upload his older songs on his personal YouTube channel. He says, “According to the contract, signed then, now I can upload those songs.” He is in the process to sort out the issue.

There are many other artists like Pokharel who are struggling against music companies in this matter. 

With that, Pokharel wants to see rap music becoming mainstream. He believes rap music should also be commercialized. Rap songs should be played everywhere from parties to weddings and other events. The artist needs to make money out of their music. They should now be able to sustain their life by devoting their time to it.

While Pokharel is making a notable comeback in the music scene, his other contemporary artists are still lost somewhere. He wants them to come back or collaborate. For that, he is frequently messaging many of them.

Back then, Pokharel also had another identity. He was a popular media person who used to present sports news and host Scoreboard, a weekly sports show. 

For him, the sports show could not progress as expected. It was the time when a lot of political events were taking place in the country and people were much more concerned about that rather than how a footballer performed in the match. Pokharel said he is sad that there is still no proper show that is dedicated to sports because of the stereotypical mindset of the media that does not consider sports as a major sector to date.

Besides many other musical projects, Pokharel is resuming the reloaded version of Scoreboard from February. This might be probably one of the best news for many Nepali sports lovers.

Pokharel ended the conversation with two big and good pieces of news. Firstly, he is going to release the song ‘Kheladi’ which is his dream project. And second, The Unity, his band, is reviving soon.