With the AO program, Saavn reaches underground to accelerate new artists, produce originals and merge East-West talent
New York & Mumbai – February 24, 2017 – Saavn, South Asia’s audio and music streaming service, today announced its expansion into original music with the worldwide release of “Azaad Hu Mai,” a genre-defining track from underground hip-hop artist, Naezy. The track is the first to be released under Artist Originals (AO), Saavn’s new original music program that empowers South Asian artists, songwriters and producers from around the world. With AO, Saavn is now the first streaming company to conceptualize, produce and distribute new music with independent artists in India.
The collaboration with Naezy is reflective of India’s burgeoning interest in hip-hop and its emergence into South Asian pop culture — a movement that can be likened to the genre’s late-80s and 90s “golden years” in the United States.
Born into an orthodox Muslim family and raised in one of Mumbai’s biggest slums, Naved Shaikh aka Naezy had a rough upbringing and found solace in music and rhyme, battling the odds and righting a wrong. He created and shot his first song on an iPad, amplifying his sound via the internet, quickly becoming a prominent name in the underground music scene, highlighting the issues that exist in city’s ghettos, resonating with the outrage felt by the country’s youth in regard to class, religious; cultural barriers. This was reflective in his hits, Haq Hai, Asal Hustle, Tehelka, and more, garnering over 2 million views.
With intoxicating rhythms, slang-coated rhymes and poignant, socially-relevant lyrics, Naezy is quickly becoming one of the most respected artists in the Indian hip-hop scene. His newest track, “Azaad Hu Mai,” is an ode to his remarkable — and often dark — journey from the slums of Mumbai to a rising star. The lyrics exhort freedom, which for Naezy, is a path defined by hard work, perseverance and hope, culminating in the diffusion of his individual gifts into the essence of universality.
Dariya dil yeh saagar dhoonde
Lafz yeh boond hai baadal hu mai
Jaha jaha tu nahi waha waha hu mai.
“‘The Heart is a river, looking for an ocean,’” he raps in Hindi-Urdu. “‘My words are droplets, I’m like a cloud. Wherever you cannot be, I’m there.’”
For Naezy, the collaboration with Saavn is an opportunity to realize these lyrics on a global stage while preserving his authentic voice and unique artistry. “Saavn is making huge strides, giving the Hip Hop movement in our country a crucial platform and I am happy to be a part of this. I look forward to be the first to grace the Artist Originals program as we curate a larger movement that gives artists across our country an opportunity to shine” said Naezy.
The release of “Azaad Hu Mai” and the launch of Artist Originals is the latest development in Saavn’s continued evolution as a global entertainment company and preeminent content producer. The company is also returning to its roots as a distributor with plans to release original music through a variety of platforms beyond Saavn’s own global streaming service.
“It’s already been a powerful year for Saavn as a content company, and the launch of Arist Originals is truly pivotal for us. Music will always be at the core of Saavn, and we will first-and-foremost build, create and evolve with the integrity of music and artistry as our top priority,” Paramdeep Singh, Co-founder and Executive Chairman of Saavn, said today. “In India, mainstream music is correlated with film music, so most independent artists are releasing their music DIY. With AO, we become a voice for India’s underground artists, supporting and accelerating their growth, while allowing them the freedom to express themselves in their own way — both visually and musically. These are sounds and perspectives that most of the world has never experienced through headphones, and we’re proud to be a catalyst for that.”
The news follows Saavn’s successful launch of original programming and its Artist-in-Residence (AiR) program last year. Featuring audio show personalities like Neha Dhupia, Neelesh Misra, and MissMalini, among others Saavn Originals continues to innovate. Saavn’s first Artist-in-Residence, independent artist Nucleya became India’s most talked about electronic music artist last year.
“Azaad Hu Mai” is available to stream exclusively on Saavn starting today. It will be available on additional platforms, to be announced within the coming months.