ThirumaLi, aka Vishnu MS, from Kerala’s Kottayam district, needs no introduction. He’s been one of the flagbearers of making Kerala’s rap scene nationally (and internationally) recognized. ThirumaLi means honesty and greatness, and it’s a name that the Malayali rapper holds close to his heart because that’s what he aims to do with Malayalam rap – to bring lyrical honesty with raps that make way for greatness.
From listening to Eminem, K. J. Yesudas, and Micheal Jackson and finding joy in hip-hop, ThirumaLi became a hip-hop enthusiast when he started to perform covers. He was able to establish a footing of his own when he started creating his own music inspired by his life.
Like many of us here, we’re excited to watch him perform live at IndieGaga in Kochi on the 21st of January. We had a chance to have a quick chat with him and you might want to check this conversation out.
Today, when you pass by a street and hear ‘Malayali Da’ (your first bonafide hit from 4 years back) playing on a speaker, what is the emotion that you feel?
I absolutely feel proud. That song, I believe, changed the rap game in Kerala and also changed my life as well. Our people took it to their hearts and I see it as an evergreen hit Malayalam Rap song. I feel so proud that it came out of my pen.
As one of the earliest entrants into the rap scene, what are your thoughts on how it has evolved over the years?
Malayalam Rap has come from nothing to something. And I truly believe that rap has more potential than any other genre because of its lyrical value. Malayalam rap will grow as listeners grow each and every day.
Today there are various upcoming as well as popular rappers in the scene, and you’ve been someone who has actively collaborated with many artists. Could you name a few artists whose work you resonate with?
We have a bunch of highly talented artists such as MC Couper, Street Academics, Fejo, Rzee, etc. I have worked with them all. These people are really talented and I love their work.
What is your long-term vision as an independent artist?
When I grew up, I listened to so many musicians, but a few names such as Yesudas, Jayachandran, etc are the top names. They have led a generation of people with their music. My long-term vision is to be the greatest musician of this generation.
In some of your tracks (‘Rap Money’, etc), you have explicitly talked about the financial aspects of being an artist – how it’s also important to earn money and be financially sound. Is this something that is often overlooked in an industry where people thrive for creative satisfaction?
Rapping is an expression of our thoughts through music. Our society has told us not to talk about certain things and we have a lot of taboos. This is applicable to art too. For me, creative liberty is non-negotiable. And about the song Rap money, it may sound like I’m flexing but I am proud of my achievements. I put my heart and soul into that song. I came from nothing to something all because of rap. That was the message I wanted to deliver. It may sound like I’m boasting at first but when you listen carefully, you’ll know that it’s my life story and I am not bragging, I am just proud. Money is a basic need when you are an indie artist because you need to fund everything by yourself. So I see no issues talking about it in a song.
In the last couple of years, you have done a wide body of work with producer Thudweiser. Could you tell us about your equation with him, and what makes the both of you click?
It actually started with a collaboration on a song called Blue bucket rebirth. Since then, we have been releasing many songs together. He is a producer and someone who understands this genre very well. So it was so flexible for me to work with him. That’s how it goes.
What’s the best thing about performing live?
Listening to people sing my lyrics gives me goosebumps. Watching their reaction to our own songs while on stage is a great feeling every musician craves.
How excited are you to perform at IndieGaga? What are you looking forward to at the event? And, which band/musicians are you excited to strike up a conversation over there?
Performing at Indiegaga is so satisfying and it fills my heart and soul every time. I know it’s going to be the same this time in Kochi. Really looking forward to meeting all of the artists, especially When Chai Meet toast and Arivu.
How’s 2023 looking for you?
2023 will be filled with new music, new collaborations, movies and shows, and many more.
Excited to watch ThirumaLi live? Book your tickets to IndieGaga in Kochi here.