Shaili Champ, The artist behind the hit song, Basmati
Rapper, actress and activist Shaili Champ is much more than just a Basmati lover. The rapper is well-known for her creative gift towards music and embracing her culture as a Desi woman. Shaili has always shown off her culture in various styles and embracing her desi audience with her given musical talent. Needless to say, I was extremely excited to learn more about this beauty, and I am sure you are too! Shaili gave us some amazing insight into the artist behind the hit Basmati. Hence, here is what Shaili Champ shared with us.
What makes Shaili Champ unique? Let’s start at the very beginning! Tell us a little bit more about yourself! How would you describe yourself? What’s your background? Tell us!
What is unique? Different from everyone else? I guess what makes me different is the fact that I know that everything and everyone are all connected. I realize that I am an energy within this body and mind and therefore have no boundaries to thought, creation, and existence.
In this third dimensional world, I was sparked into a female body born in Gujarat, India, conceived by a father born in Africa who experienced the wrath of Idi Amin. A mother born in India who broke free from the oppressive caste system.
Now a first generational immigrant in Canada, a master of perceptions, having lived in over 13 different homes. In various cities, with over 21 people not including my immediate family. I have experienced so much in my short time in this body, and I’m going to convert it all into a form of art.
It’s no secret that you are a free spirited musician, when did you start having an interest in music and when did you first start recording music?
I came to Canada when I was 5 & I knew no English. Essentially learned English through the music. I listened to at the time with my sister living in the North York area- a lot of Tupac, Biggie, Eminem, Missy, Aaliyah, Sean Paul. Remember rapping Eminem in my elementary classes and getting in trouble ‘cause I had no clue what the words meant. I was captivated by the rhyme schemes and wordplay – Dr. Seuss was my shit too. When I learned how to write English on my own and learned poetry I wrote my brains out. When I was young in India, my house was always filled with Bollywood and classical music that my parents jammed on the cassette tapes. Immigrating to Canada, those songs were comforting. Took us back home through the melodies and emotions.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t put into any classical instrument classes ‘cause we couldn’t afford it. But the music my parents played was glued to my memory. I always made beats on tables and counter tops while singing random melodies. Recording/producing these ideas came after I got my first laptop. Hearing Missy Elliot and Timbaland experiment with Indian sounds, I was like YO THIS IS SHIT IS WHAT I HEAR AT HOME.
And they ain’t even brown, so why can’t I do that? Sampling is a beauty of hip hop and there’s infinite possibilities sampling Indian tunes/sounds/melodies, so I started experimenting with that. I had so many ideas for songs in my head. I made myself get in the habit of writing them down. The first song I recorded was “PEPZI&KOKOKOLA” on my SoundCloud. I made the beat learning Ableton on my own and wrote out the idea had – making a song about water privatization.
What inspired you to become a musician and why?
It’s intrinsically a part of me. I got natural rhythm and flow. I just had to take the step to actually capture my creativity and share it with the world. Which I was super conscious about before, fearing I wasn’t “good enough”. I started sharing with my close friends. They loved it. Which motivated me to share online.
I realized that everyone’s got to start somewhere, so the fear of being “not good enough” is hella irrational. Everything gets better with practice. And I have so many messages to share through music; I believe that it’s a great medium to create change and impact people’s lives, that’s what I exist to do, that’s what motivates me.
How would you describe your music and how do you wish to impact others with your music?
My music fits into no one genre. Being a boundary-less energy, I get the best of multiple worlds and perceptions. My music is a reflection of these experiences and consciousness. People can label me whatever they want but I know I don’t fit into any one box. Yes I’m desi & proud, and yes I vocalize on adversities we face, but I’m also a mix of the environment I grew up in Canada.
Growing up in North York and the GTA, I had a lot of friends from the Caribbean, so I have a lot of dancehall/reggae influences along with hip hop & rap influences. This influenced my style, my moral compass – everything.
Also, with the blow up of the internet in our generation, I’ve been able to tap into knowledge and influences from around the world in all time spans – like the counter culture in the 1960’s introducing me to rock and psychedelic music, which is why I started playing electric guitar.
I’ve never been one to care about what people want to label me as, I just do what feels right to me as an artist and creator. People feel this genuinity in my work and can resonate with it – I have had people come up to me in tears because my music reached their soul- that’s what keeps me going. I want to create a social shift in perception through my music, art, and existence.
As a South Asian female in the music industry, what would you say are the biggest challenges you face in the industry?
All of the social injustices that affect females in the regular world are kind of intensified in the music industry, so it’s difficult to pick the “biggest” challenge. Being taken seriously as an artist, especially by men with sexual gazes is annoying as hell.
It’s unfortunate because it closes doors of collaboration and creating amazing things when men try to do, say, or expect, sexual things form you.
It is uncomfortable, especially when trying to also embrace your own sexuality – and this being mistaken for an open invitation.
And this makes me mad. A dude reaching out to a dude to collaborate wouldn’t be taking for what it is- an invitation for teamwork creation, whereas I’ve have instances where dudes mistake it as an invitation to flirt with me, say gross stuff, try to slide into my personal life.
So really, the biggest challenge would be dealing with sexist men who do not know how to be professional.
If you could change one thing in the industry to date, what would you change?
Sexist unprofessional men, and increase inclusivity of all types of people- regardless of gender, sex, economic class, appearance, etc.- and focus on the music.
Basmati is such a banger! Absolutely love the hit. What inspired you to write the song and what is the message behind it?
Thank you! I finalized the lyrics of Basmati in July, but actually wrote the hook over a year ago. Following the release of my song ManKind where I talk about women’s adversity. It was heavy but raw as hell and impacted people- and my song ‘Like After Like’ was a chill/drip hop that spoke about social media addictions.
I wanted to continue talking about shit that matters to me, but I wanted to do it in a catchy, upbeat way so the song -and the message it has- could become an ear worm.
So, when I thought about writing a song talking about brown culture being appropriated but in a fun/witty/catchy way. The hook kind of just came to me. I wish I could tell you where the ideas come from but it’s literally like they are dropped upon me by some higher energy.
Basmati is my personal empowering clap back to this colonized world that tries to strip coloured people of their own cultures. I’m planning to make a video to explain the meaning of the song- so keep your eyes out for that on my YouTube and Instagram!
Who is your musical idol and why?
My inspirations are endless but include slaying queens such as Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Missy Elliott, Erykah Badu, Joan Jett, Aretha Franklin (RIP), Pink, Lauryn Hill, M.I.A., Princess Nokia, Tierra Whack, Noname, Rapsody, Little Simz, and The Sorority.
Because they have all helped create change and pave ways for female persons.
How do you think you are impacting others with your music? What makes you stand out as an artist?
My music is something this generation can use to feel empowered, celebrate themselves with, and offers perspectives that aren’t usually talked about.
Which help spark conversations that question the norm. I think the rest of my answers speak for themselves as to why I stand out as an artist, but mainly so because I have no boundaries to expression. And I am intelligent as hell.
We love how you embrace your culture. It is evident in your music, what advice would you give other young aspiring artists that may be struggling to find their own musical identity?
You ain’t need to be “enough” of “anything” for anyone, embrace your story, and don’t be afraid to experiment outside of it! Being first generational is beautiful. We’re so dynamic, flexible, and resourceful.
We’ve lived one life time experiencing an explosion of culture, our roots, our home country, the new country which is a melody of various cultures in itself. I feel like we’re lucky as hell yo.
As hard as our lives have been trying to ‘find’ ourselves, treading between retaining our roots and assimilation, I find it extremely fascinating and beautiful. We have a maturity and qualities that single background folks will never capture. I’m surprised that psychologists don’t study us more.
Don’t think too much, just do, and what comes out is inevitably a part of your own energy.
– Be sure to follow Shaili Champ on the platforms below to join the Champ Club on exciting new projects and future hits!
Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/ShailiChamp/)
Spotify : https://open.spotify.com/artist/40j1ADvlvR0Fnd3msJLgGj?si=3rcahJcgTK2_3GejobomzQ