Just a few months ago, Urban Asian introduced you to the up and coming hip-hop collective, Nefa Zoo . Based in Florida, this group of Indian rappers have a diverse style and sound that has caught the ears of many. In just a short time, the group has been played on radio stations across the US, worked and performed with major artists such as Gorilla Zoe, and released three mixtapes, most recently “Test Date” by Trx just weeks ago on January 29, 2012. We recently sat down with Trx and Wats_n to catch up with their latest ventures.
Urban Asian: Your music is very unique to those styles associated with the South, for example T.I, Rick Ross, or T-pain. As rappers from Florida, what influences you to be different?
Trx: Growing up, we listened to such a variety of music that anything that catches our ear is what appeals to us, that’s the best way to sum it up. I enjoy quite the range of music and it all influences what I’m making.
Wats_n: Yeah, like [Trx] said, we have had exposure to many different types of music, so our tastes aren’t bound by geography. Obviously rap is the primary influence, but there’s so much else out there.
Trx: We have common influences but our own styles. It’s just by what feels right for us.
UA: So do you think being so unique from your area will affect your popularity?
Trx: Only in a positive way, people like artists for their unique tastes.
UA: Trx, you just released your 2nd mixtape “Test Date”. There is definitely a variety of sounds, from club bangers to R&B ballads and even Modern Hippie, which sounds like a generation-defining track. Your previous mixtape “MKAT” had a similar mix, what inspires you to make such a broad range of music?
Trx: The broad range comes from me letting out different emotions. Some songs have stories behind them, some are ideas, some are just random rants of inspiration. All these behaviors are what make a person up, this is just my version of them. Me being me.
UA: Wats_n, your song “My Rani” is the perfect blend of old school Bollywood and new school hip hop. Is Bollywood and Hindi music a big influence for you?
Wats_n: I was exposed to a lot of Bollywood and Indian classical music at a young age by my parents; it was never really my first choice in music but I learned to appreciate it. A lot of rap music has Indian and Bollywood samples but I wanted to capture the themes and emotions of typical Bollywood songs and showcase them in a modern light.
UA: So do you think Bollywood-inspired tracks can appeal to people outside the South Asian community?
Wats_n: For sure. Music is universal, especially now. Like, Akon and Snoop Dogg both have done Bollywood tracks. A$AP Rocky caught a lot of intrigue for using sounds innovated in Houston, and he’s from Harlem; Drake has remixed Lykke Li and Peter Bjorn and John tracks. So I think good music is just good music–it can surpass boundaries between regions and genres and can appeal to anyone anywhere.
UA: As Indians pursuing careers in hip-hop, do you feel that your desi background is a hindrance or an advantage to “making it” in this industry?
Trx: Definitely an advantage. We have an entire subcontinent [India] that would be more inclined to our music because of our heritage. Being different from the norm helps too. A good current example is Jeremy Lin; his national buzz having an international influence.
Wats_n: Our backgrounds are pretty unique for hip-hop, so that’s a great advantage, in my view–the ability to provide a new perspective and some new voices. And we’ve gotten a lot of support so far from the Indian community, so I’m sure it’ll be an asset in the future.
UA: Well while we’re on the topic of the two of you together, you collaborate quite often—each of you has a definite presence on the other’s mixtapes. Trx, what was it like working with major artists such as Gorilla Zoe?
Trx: It was inspiring more than anything. Gorilla Zoe, someone I listened to during my high school homecomings, believes in the sounds I’m making. It was surreal at first, but it really reinforced my belief in my music; not to mention that we made two very great and very different songs: if you haven’t heard – go listen to “Private Dancer” or “BulletProof” (laughs).
UA: Can we expect to see you working with other rappers?
Trx: As long as I can mesh with another artist and our tastes blend, it would definitely work.
UA: What can we expect from Nefa Zoo in the near future?
Wats_n: We’re gonna continue to focus our efforts on perfecting our craft and putting out new music. It really comes down to providing fans with what they want. And also, anyone who hasn’t heard our material needs to stop slacking (laughs)..
Trx: Listen to em, Nefazoo.com, TrxUpMySleeve.com, Test Date, thank you for having us!
We’d like to extend a special thanks from all of us at Urban Asian to Trx and Wats_n for taking the time to talk with us!