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Karun’s Evolution in Desi Hip Hop: The Story Behind Cult-Classic Album ‘Granth’

After releases of his singles like Sheeshmehal, Batti, Baaliyan and his EP, Lekh, all of which explored different areas of the musical spectrum, Karun released Granth, his first album in December of 2020. With his foot in the door of the Desi Hip Hop scene, this album marked the beginning of him cementing his place and proving to everyone that he’s here to stay. With the release of his latest project “Saugaat” , we decided it was a good time for a callback to his work that propelled his rise and fame.

Granth is an amalgamation of everything Karun did with his earlier releases, all with a new and experimental point of view, chock-a-block with features. It’s widely regarded as one of the best albums in DHH.

 

 

The introductory track ‘Aankhein’ immediately pulls in the listener with a folk song that fades in with croons and a harmonium in the background. Right as you get comfortable with the sound, you’re caught off guard as the beat drops, chopping the folk sample. The hook has a dark and haunting sound to it. The mic goes to Roy first, who drops bars about a girl, telling her to not be afraid of the people and the atmosphere around her and continue to do her thing. We’re given a breather before the mic is passed to the main man Karun who comes out of the gates swinging, delivering fast and sharp bars, talking about his lyrics and his ability to rhyme. 

The 6th track ‘Anant’ featuring Lil Kabeer and the penultimate song ‘Doob Ja’ (featuring the trio Teesri Duniya, of which Karun is a part) have similar vibes and address similar themes.

The production on this album is spearheaded by Nanku, who is a longtime collaborator and friend of Karun. The influence of his idols such as Pharrell and Kanye West shines through on his beats.

The next song ‘Kamina’ features a chill, laid back horn sample. Syncopated hits of the drums provide a swing to it, giving it an RnB and soul feel. It features Tarun and Quest, who talk about lost love, their journey and the never ending battle to get to the top in the cutthroat DHH scene.

The following cut Mere Baare features the flawless and melodic Punjabi vocals of Barf which are coupled perfectly with the mellow sample. This track talks about one sided love. Khoobsurat features the signature muted and embellished guitar from Toorjo Dey. Combined with expressive lyrics and delivery from Karun and Nanku, it all comes together to form a beautiful ode to love. The seamless switch up from Karun when he goes from his singing verse to his rap verse on this track is one of the best moments on the album. The beat has been very masterfully crafted on this one, such that both singing and bars sound great on it.  The most commercially successful song on the album called ‘Manoharini’ talks about similar themes with an identical song structure (a guitar riff with both singing and rap verses).

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‘Baxxe’ is a sonic landscape with an experimental sound to it. The beat itself is minimalistic but has a bounce to it while still having serious undertones. Mc Kode and Babita add their unmistakable sound to it. Karun creeps onto the mic for a few seconds in the middle of the song with a whisper flow, delivering some bars and comes back some time later for a full blown verse with his signature poetic bars riding the beat. ‘Bhool Gaya’ takes a leaf out of the previous song and features a soundscape of sorts with synths that pans left to right throughout the song, adding a feeling of space. The song combines the themes of ‘Baxxe’ and ‘Kamina’. 

‘Jaane Do’ has a very similar vibe to a previous collaboration Karun did with Vrinda for a song titled ‘Solace’. It features a lofi boom-bap type melodic beat which is riddled with hi-hats once Karun comes onto it for his rap parts. Seetiyan is a fun track with an acoustic guitar driven beat with pockets for Nuke and Achayan to rap over. The album ends with the track ‘Sajna’ which aims to be a call for the bringing back of a lost lover. 

Karun distributed this album under the label of his trio Teesri Duniya, which features Nanku, Raghav and him, who have become pioneers of this sound in Desi Hip Hop.

 This project ultimately played a huge role in making Karun one of the biggest names in the DHH scene. The massive success of songs like ‘Manoharini’ led to him being discovered and showing up on a lot of people’s playlists. 

This set up the landscape for him to drop his next project ‘Qabool Hai’ in 2022 which was yet another resounding success with cuts like Maharani making their way to the top of the trending charts. This success and recognition was shared by Nanku who collaborated with a lot of other names like Natiq with whom he released their Collab album titled ‘Naharpur Prints’.

The biggest outcome from this chronology of events was perhaps the India wide  ‘एक’ tour that Karun embarked on with his newly formed duo with Nanku called ‘Dono’. They were finally known outside their home city of Delhi and their music started spreading like wildfire

Which brings us to this moment, with the release of his latest project  ‘Saugaat’. The only way to go is up.

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