Rapper Deepa Unnikrishnan, better known as Dee MC, advises aspiring female rappers to always strive to have their own identity. She says, “If you’ve entered this genre with the hopes of making a name for yourself, then set your own path and don’t follow trends.”
In an interview, Dee MC speaks about her journey of 8 years in the industry, the challenges she faced and more. Read excerpts:
How has your journey thus far in an industry that is dominated by males in India?
Dee MC: Any and every field in the world is male dominated so Hip Hop or any other genre falls under the same. India as a country is no different; in fact due to our population and regressive patriarchy it is only worse. I won’t sugarcoat, it definitely wasn’t a piece of cake to get to where I am today. When we started there was barely any industry for hip hop, so our focus was mainly self-improvement. Although the journey has had its ups and downs, I consider myself to be one of the most empowered females in this country. As I get to choose my own path and set an example that is truly inspiring. I’d like to add that although our society is quite orthodox; my personal experience has been that women do get encouraged by the male artists of the South Asian hip hop scene. So it’s always good to reach out to the people around you in order to keep improving.
Tell us about the challenges you have faced?
Dee MC: Like I said, the journey has its ups and downs and now at this point in my life the hardships look like a distant memory. The struggles today are on a different level and scale than what it was 2 or 3 years ago. If I had to put my finger on one thing, I would say that being a young teenage girl from a small town like Kalyan was my biggest challenge when I started out. A lot of energy went into acquiring permission from my family to travel for shows or cyphers. For a while I was living a dual life where my family had no idea what my Dee MC alter ego is up to. But these experiences shaped my state of mind – that I couldn’t rely on anyone else to fulfil my dreams. If I want to actively be a part of the music industry, I had to make it out of my hometown. That whole process of standing up on my own feet came with its own challenges, but it all came down to bringing forth more strength from within.
What are your takeaways from all the years of experience?
Dee MC: I started when I was only 18 years old. So in my 8 year journey the most important takeaway has been to take care of my own health — mind and body. I had to redirect myself to slow down and enjoy the journey, and not be in a hurry to get ahead. I truly believe in the power of the universe and I believe that every genuine effort I put in comes back in some form of positive way that helps me grow with each experience. Remaining self-assured, and focused on one’s dreams and hopes rather than what others say, has been key.
You have collaborated with Glow & Lovely to create a rap song. Tell us about it.
Dee MC: Glow & Lovely came together with me to share the brand philosophy through a rap song. We created the ‘Glow Ko Na Roko’ rap song, which brings to the forefront the concept of ‘glow’- which goes beyond outer appearance to the confidence that comes forth when one creates their own identity. The ‘Glow Ko Na Roko’ rap equates ‘glow’ with identity and urges women to not let anything stop them from pursuing their dreams. Glow & Lovely celebrates the inner glow of confidence that comes from knowing one’s inner strength, from expressing opinions and breaking barriers of inner doubts or societal expectations and this was in line with a lot of my own journey. I have expressed this in the song too.
What message does your song give?
Dee MC: While women in India would like to choose their own identity, they have been conditioned to listen to others. The message of the rap ‘Glow Ko Na Roko’ is for women to embark on the journey of choosing their own identity, free from the fetters of society. It celebrates the inner confidence and glow of the Indian woman.
The lyrics ‘Mera glow meri pehchaan, Mere rang ka na socho, Pure ho iraade khudse yeh vaadaa’ strongly emphasize how today’s women should aspire to reach their goal and not think of society as a hindrance. Moreover, the rap also highlights how outer appearances don’t matter and what really counts is one’s inner determination, and this self-assurance is what can truly be called a Glow.
What message would you give to girls who are aspiring to make a mark in rapping?
Dee MC: I would advise them to always strive to have their own identity. Your distinctive identity is what will get you further in the career and it is something you must never lose. It’s very easy to get influenced in a space that is new to you. If you’ve entered this genre with the hopes of making a name for yourself, then set your own path and don’t follow trends. Because in the end hip hop as a culture is all about keeping it real, and only your own perseverance will take you ahead in the journey.
What are you working on next?
Dee MC: I’ve been working on growing my YouTube subscriber base this year and with every upload I’m getting closer to the goal I set. I’ve already put out several singles this year the latest one being “Jumla” that released on August 15. I have a really special music video releasing for my single named ‘Confess’ – which gives the important message of not neglecting one’s mental health. Apart from that I’m also working on a four track EP which will be out early 2021.
–ians, Puja Gupta