Urban Asian sat down with one of the most talented rappers of the South Asian music scene, Drega, for an exclusive interview! Check out all the juicy bits Drega had to tell us!
UA: How and when did you get started as a rapper?
Drega: I’ve been rapping since grade 2, its just something me and my friends did when we weren’t smoking weed, shooting each other with Roman candles or playing basketball. Me and my friend Fraz would put out little mixtapes just for the area, it became a competition of who could make the better album and who could sell more. They were amazing times that really defined my artistry today. I “officially” became a super famous rapper in 2007 when I was featured on The Bilz “O Meri Rani” which became a huge hit. It kinda kicked me in the butt and told me “don’t take this as a joke, you can do something with this”.
UA: How did you come up with the name, “Drega?”
Drega: When I was real young like in grade 3, my older cousin got me into graffiti (i know what a great role model) and said I needed a tag name. So since my real name is Andre, naturally people called me “dre”, the “ga” got added on cause my tag name would be “dre g.a.” which the “g” was just my last name and the “a” my first time. Naturally that got turned into Drega.
UA: Do you play any instruments? Or are there any instruments you want to learn how to play?
Drega: My mom and grandma taught me how to play piano when I was little. Every time my mom was having a bad day, I remember she would play her heart out on the piano and that would help her. So I’ve always been drawn to the piano, its such a beautiful instrument. It just so happens knowing piano is probably the best thing for producing hip hop, r&b, electro and reggae.
UA: Who are you favorite music artists or musical inspirations?
Drega: The first artists I got to see go from nothing to something is Kanye and T.I. Them and Jay-Z have without a doubt been the biggest influences in my life. I’m also heavily influenced by 80’s pop like Phil Collins and Annie Lennox. I feel like when I sing I’m channelling Phil Collins that’s why I did a tribute to him on the song “Take Me Home” on my album Man of the Year.
UA: What kind of music would I find in your iPod?
Drega: If you saw my iPod playlist you probably wouldn’t believe it. I listen to everything from UGK to La Roux. I don’t judge music by genres, more by whether a song can relate to me at the moment I’m in.
UA: What can your fans expect from your album Man of the Year?
Drega: I’ve been the underdog my whole life and trying to be a rapper when your an Indian guy from Canada is probably the dumbest thing anyone can do. The driving force throughout my life has been to prove the doubters wrong and that flame continues to burn brighter and brighter each day. Man of the Year is for all the underdogs and the songs on there are about the moments that define us.
UA: What inspired your song “Overcome”?
Drega: The funny thing about me is in real life I’m not a serious person at all. But a lot of the songs I make have a seriousness about them, Overcome is a song I needed to make for my own sanity to prove to myself I could overcome anything. The validation I get is when other people tell me that song helped them persevere.
UA: What words of wisdom would you give to aspiring musicians?
Drega: The two main things are believing in yourself no matter what and making music that sounds like who you are. I see a lot of artists make music they think will sell or get them on radio and it rarely works. If you’re a kid from India, rap with an Indian accent, don’t rap with an American accent because that’s not you. I’d like to think people enjoy my music because of the authenticity of not only being this super cool kid but also sounding like a determined brown guy from Toronto.
So, that’s Drega for you! Be sure to check up on UrbanAsian for more updates on the talented rapper! Don’t forget to check out his Facebook fanpage
and follow him on Twitter!