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The Rolling Stone Interview – The Asoka

Rolling-Stone-Quote-Asoka-July-2016

 

Mad love to Rolling Stone Magazine and especially their team in Mumbai, India! For four years, I’ve been quietly working on my sophomore album, The Asoka Hustle. The album wraps this week and the time for resurgence is this Fall. Thank you enormously to everyone who shared my vision and chose to be a part of my beautiful chaos. I love you all.

Article Courtesy of Rolling Stone Magazine…

When Indian-American hip-hop artist Karan Batta was younger, he used to stay up late at night thinking about the kind of rap music and wrestling-themed videos he wanted to make.  “I wanted to do a song with a bunch of wrestlers because I used to watch them on TV,” says the 27-year-old Los Angeles-based rapper, who also goes by his stage name The Asoka, over a phone interview.

Batta’s dream finally came true last year when he was called in to work on a theme song for Indian-American pro-wrestler Sonjay Dutt. “He invited me to hang out with a bunch of the wrestlers and I got to meet so many guys,” he recalls. One thing led to another: one of the wrestlers in the group showed Batta his own rapping skills, prompting the idea to invite more wrestlers to rap on a track together. “Team Asoka”— the tentative first single from Batta’s upcoming album The Asoka Hustle — now features bars from various wrestling champions including Dutt, Brian Kendrick, MVP, John Morrison, Rocky Romero, Katerina Waters and more. “A lot of [them] love hip-hop, so we ended up getting a whole roster on there,” explains Batta.

The Asoka Hustle, which releases in September, is Batta’s second record, and as he explains, his “most honest and open album to date.” The followup to his 2013 debut Heart of a Lion, the full-length release is “an intimate journey,” he says. “It’s like a time capsule of this period in my life which was about being young in Hollywood and meeting and working with my heroes.”

Honing his rap skills for the last 13 years, Batta briefly worked with producer and legend Dr. Dre [on the 2015 Dr. Dre album Compton and, as a screenwriter, on a commercial for him] recorded a track with American rapper Hittman and featured on an official mixtape released by Tupac Shakur’s estate in 2006. Also an actor [with two upcoming movies], Batta says that it’s tough to escape the clutches of stereotypes in most industries in America. He says, “When you go out to these auditions being Indian, they’ll give you a script and be like ‘Can you do it in an Indian accent?’ I mean… don’t put me in a box.”

It’s a similar situation in music, with many big record labels and audiences expecting a certain ‘Indian-ness’ from him. “It does get frustrating sometimes,” he says. “I’ve been in meetings with major music companies in the world and they’ve said, ‘Well you’re Indian, you have to rap in Hindi and be Bollywood, otherwise it won’t work.’ But Batta has decided to stick to his own brand of Tupac-influenced rap to break through the idea of what a rapper should or shouldn’t be. “I don’t look like a ‘typical rapper’ but I feel in a way that works in my advantage,” says Batta.

http://rollingstoneindia.com/the-asoka-dont-put-me-in-a-box/

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HumbleHustle – Official Music Video

Reality is wrong… Dreams are for real.

Recently, I had a meeting with a record executive from one of the biggest record labels in the world, right here in LA. I was feeling a lot of things that morning… nervous, excited, anxious, thrilled, ecstatic… but most of all reflective. After all, musicians dream of this moment their entire lives. I thought about everything that had led me up to this point… going against the grain, all the hard work, all the bold decisions… The sleepless nights, the hours of writing and recording, the brutal and tedious hours of mixing records to get them to sound just right. I felt that it had all accumulated to this one beautiful moment.

The meeting begins. We start talking… “The music’s good. But you’re Indian. You can’t blow up in America. Go back to India…”

And just like that… with four sentences my story almost ended.

Until I realized, that this man might represent a billion dollar company… He might be in charge of signing new talent for them. But his opinion doesn’t define who I am. And it never will. So without saying much… I kept pushing onwards.

Since then, my new singles have gone into rotation on MTV & VH1 and even more recently… I was nominated for my very first VH1 Award (for “Best Hip-Hop Act“) at the VH1 SoundNation Awards.

No record label.
No publicist.
Just me… writing, recording, self releasing music.

That meeting inspired me to create the HumbleHustle project. A project for artists to come together and create music for the love of creating music. Everybody who worked on this project from the artists, to the engineers, to the cameramen all worked on this for free because they believe in the music. I want to clarify though, this wasn’t a low budget video… It’s a no budget video. We had people volunteer and bring over a hundred thousand dollars worth of equipment including multiple Red Epic cameras. The Red Epic is a top of the line camera used for major motion pictures in Hollywood.

These are professionals from the film, television, and music industry, who took time out of their schedule… Because they dig the music. The video was directed & edited by Carlos Haynes (from VICE media), along with motion graphics and titles by Michael Colby (Mikey Cheeze). Michael was an amazing talent! He did visual effects for campaigns on HBO promoting: Avatar, True Blood, The Dark Knight, The Simpsons Movie, amongst others. Unfortunately, Michael and his girlfriend, passed away the morning after he finished working on the Humble Hustle music video. This project is the last thing he worked on.

A few days following Michael’s departure… A good friend of mine, and also a vital member of the HumbleHustle family, welcomed his first born son into this world. The last one year has been quite a journey. A journey that’s redefined the meaning of humble hustle in my life. I feel privileged and lucky to have been able to work on such a beautiful project with such amazing people. Carlos, Hitt, Chris, Rob, Tero… We did it fellas!

Humble Hustle - VH1 Final
DOWNLOAD
The Asoka – HumbleHustle – Featuring Hittman & Chris Lightfoot

So enjoy HumbleHustle. Share it with all of your friends. And know that there’s plenty more coming from this man. I didn’t come this far to just walk away.
The Asoka

Please visit the Michael Colby Art Scholarship today.

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BTS: The Humble Hustle pt. 1

The-Asoka-Humble-Hustle

Last week I embarked on a journey with a few of my comrades. We set out to the middle of the desert and what followed was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I grew up wanting to rap. I grew up listening to legends… Not realizing that one day I’d be working with them or calling them friends.  We shot a music video last week for a song that I chose to call “The Humble Hustle.”

I wrote and recorded the song with Hittman…. You know, the Hittman who appeared on more than half of the songs on the Chronic 2001 album by Dr. Dre. The same Hittman, who wrote one of the most iconic hip-hop records of all time… The Next Episode.

Humble-Hustle-The-Asoka-Hittman-Chris

I’ve been working with Hitt over the last year and it’s been a journey on it’s own… Talking to him about different writing techniques to hearing the behind the scene stories of the 2001 album and the Up In Smoke Tour. It’s kind of surreal. I feel like we captured a lot of that on this new record (The Humble Hustle). For the first time, Hitt publicly addresses his feelings towards his situation with Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment from 98 till now.

Without a record label involved we also had full creative control on this project. And blessed with a great crew, we had the privilege to shoot this project with multiple RED EPIC cams. Carlos Haynes took the helm as he directed and brought precise greatness to each shot.

Working with Carlos was an absolute pleasure as well. He’s one of the nicest guys that I’ve met, immensely talented and about as humble as they come, no pun intended. You should check out his website CarlosHaynes.com and check out some of his work! You might even recognize some of his work from Big Boi‘s last album “Vicious Lies & Dangerous Rumors.”

The Humble Hustle music video will be out soon! Until then, I’m working on a few other projects… I’ll catch you on the flip side!

Asoker

 

 

Win This War – Official Music Video!

“Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.” – Rumi 

The quote above speaks volumes to me. I think every artist can relate to the fact that, we have to do, what we do… It’s not really an option. The art runs through our veins. Welcome to the War of Art! A war that I plan on winning…

Be a part of my battalion. Enjoy the video. Send it in to your favorite blogs, post it on your favorite websites or message boards! Share it on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Tumblr! Email it to a friend! Whatever you’d like! Let’s just knock this one out the park!

Much love and special thanks to: Naia Kete, RawKey, PappaArtwork, and Tec!