If there was a search for the story of Mumbai hip-hop’s shining star Naezy (real name: Naved Shaikh), it can end now. For he himself raps it all out in his new song, Bombay 70. Originally recorded in 2014 on an iPad, Naezy released the song on YouTube on February 10.
A few verses of the track first appeared in a scene in Disha Noyonika Rindani’s short documentary of the same name, which won the Best Short Film award in the Mumbai Dimensions section of the 2014 Mumbai Film Festival. The song features beats by Mohammad Ahmed Natiq.
Bombay 70 charts the rapper’s life right from his birth in Mumbai’s Kurla West neighbourhood in 1993 (“Paydaaish hui hai unniso tiranave me meri, hui parvarish chaali me, Rambacchan chawl, chawl no paanch kholi number chaubbis, Bombay sattar”) till he became a YouTube sensation with Aafat in 2014 (“Us rap ko, kitaab par utaar kar iPad pe record kar ke, shot kar ke, drop kar diya, ilaake me bajta hai Bombay sattar ke har naake pe ab Aafat”).
Rindani’s film told the story of how Naezy turned his life around from his early days of juvenile theft and vandalism to finding creative expression through rap. Naezy’s song touches upon the minutiae of that story, chronologically moving from Naezy’s rough lifestyle on the streets to his zeal to make his neighbourhood proud – “Karta hu kuch kaam aisa jisse hove area ka naam / Yaha ki kuch public ne ise kar rakha badnaam aise kar rakhe hai kaand jo sheher ke baaki logo ko naa qaabile bardaasht.”
Following the release of Aafat, another Mumbai rapper, Divine, who had simultaneously broken out with the song Yeh Mera Bombay, contacted Naezy for a collaboration. With the resulting song, Mere Gully Mein, Mumbai hip-hop took its first baby steps towards enter mainstream consciousness. Four years later, Zoya Akhtar’s Bollywood take on Naezy and the Mumbai hip-hop story, Gully Boy, starring Ranveer Singh as aspiring rapper Murad, is set to be out in theatres. The film will be released on February 14.