Krishna Kaul 1
Krishna Kaul 1

The Story of KR$NA “From Scratch to the Next Big Thing”

KR$NA: The Lyrical God of Indian Hip-Hop

KR$NA, aka Krishna Kaul, is a rapper and songwriter from Delhi, India. Formerly known as Young Prozpekt, he is one of the earliest rappers to emerge in the desi hip hop scene. He was born on 4 October 1989 to a Kashmiri Pandit family in New Delhi. He went to South London, where he was raised and schooled for a few years. Seeing the culture in his school he started writing rap at the age of 14 and started battling to blend in with other children in the school. KR$NA is known for his technicalities, metaphors, wordplays, references and is often referred to as the lyrical God in the desi hip hop scene. He was one of the earliest in the scene and got recognition in newspapers after the track “Kaisa Mera Desh’ back in 2010, which was on Trending at that time on Youtube.

Early Life

KR$NA started recording & releasing songs on the Myspace app in 2006-2007. By 2008 he gained a local fanbase in Delhi, and at that time most of the artists on the app were from U.S.A or Canada. He started gaining interest in rap in his childhood when he first saw some rap videos on MTV. When in school, he & his friends listened to Grime (Garage) and then started researching Hiphop music and starting writing. Then he came back to India, formed a crew in his college, named his crew Illicit Cash Mob (ICM), and started rapping in college. At that time he didn’t know that the rappers in the city were doing rap as well. 

In 2013, he decided to choose rap as his career, and he released his album Sellout through Universal Music India in 2014, although that didn’t turn out so well. At that time he had an English fanbase and did a tour of India but got disappointed as the company didn’t spend much on marketing and promotions and almost left the music dry.

Struggle Story

Like a common man, Kaul didn’t have a normal life in his early days. He developed his interest in music at a very young age and wanted to pursue music as his career. But, as his parents wanted him to do a 9 to 5 job for his living & expenses, he started to work. In 2003-2004, the hiphop culture was not there in India; he didn’t tell his parents about his rap interest and started doing other jobs for his living. He had a very complicated and stressful life at that time as he thought of being a professional rapper one day.

Deal with Universal Music India 

When he was in Delhi and decided to move to Mumbai, Krishna found an internship in Universal Music India in the A&R department and grabbed the opportunity to be in the music industry and to learn the process of artists getting into labels. After getting involved with Universal Music in 2013 he got a deal with Universal to release a full-length English debut Album named “Sellout” and released it in 2014. The capital on promotions and marketing which were to be spent on that album didn’t go through with an all-English effort on Universal Music with its lead single “Last Night” peaking at No.5 on the Vh1 Music Charts in India. After that KR$NA decided to leave music for some time went again to work other jobs.

The story behind the name KR$NA & Gully Boy Feature

Earlier in his career, his stage name was Young Prozpekt, he switched his name to KR$NA after signing a record deal with Universal. He found his name Young Prozpekt not easy sounding, so he switched to KR$NA (from his name Krishna).

KR$NA featured in the Gully Boy movie which was based on the Gully rap scene in India and inspired by DIVINE and Naezy. KR$NA had a role in the film where he was battling with other rappers.

He also got featured in the “Voice of the Streets” Episode which you can watch on Youtube.

Signing with Ak Projekts (Kalamkaar)

In 2016, KR$NA released the track Vyanjan and Raftaar listened to the track and liked the track, so he shared it on his social media profile. After that Ankit Khanna, CEO of AkProjekts, now Kalamkaar, started talking with KR$NA on Instagram to check his daily activities. But as Kaul was not active much on social media, Ankit decided to meet him personally with Raftaar. Then Ankit and Raftaar went to meet KR$NA, and coincidently on that day, Ankit’s sister had delivery so they met at the gate of the Hospital. After signing Kaul with AkProjekts, KR$NA, Ankit & Raftaar decided to make it a label i.e. Kalamkaar Music.

In the early days of Kalamkaar, the crew was known as DNH Gang which included artists like Deep Kalsi, Harjas & Karma who came later in the scene. After signing with AkProjekts KR$NA dropped songs like “Dekh Kaun Aaya Wapas”, “Tere Bus ki Na hai”, “Meri Baari” ft. Kidshot, “Alag”, “Woofer” etc. Then from 2017, Kaul started dropping songs back to back featuring Raftaar and his solos which were “I m Ready”, “Hiphop Holi”, “Muqabla”, “Farak Nahi Padta” and many more. KR$NA also has a partnership in Kalamkaar and is one of the main pillars of the company.

Hip hop Beefs & Controversy

  1. Famous beef of KR$NA and Emiway Bantai: – 
  • It all started when Raftaar said in an interview “Rappers paisa Kama paa rahe hain? Emiway jo hai apni taraf se sab laga hua hai, he is not earning right now”. After this line, a series of words and songs started coming from Raftaar and Emiway’s side. After the last diss of Emiway “Khatam”, everything ended from both sides. But after some time when Emiway released “Freeverse Feast (Daawat),” the scene changed when he said he was representing India. After the track, KR$NA released his first diss track in reply “Freeverse Feast (Langar)” (Music was by Raftaar), which surprised everybody in the scene and took over. Emiway didn’t respond and KR$NA release another hot diss track “Seedha Makeover”. At this time this track went viral in the hiphop scene which we will talk about in the next context.
  1. Lyrical beef of KR$NA and Muhfaad:-
  • The beef between KR$NA and Muhfaad started when Muhfaad said it in an interview “Krishna behti Ganga me haath dho raha hai” and after that KR$NA released a track “UNTITLED” which has subliminal shots to Muhfaad. After the track, Muhfaad replied with his diss track “Moksh” and from there, a series of diss tracks started between Muhfaad and KR$NA. Kaul released his best diss track and one of the best diss tracks of DHH “Makasam” which we will talk about in the next context. In reply to Moksh KR$NA released “Maharani” and then Muhfaad released “Aelaan”. Then, KR$NA released Makasam so Muhfaad released “Bhoot Banega” as his last reply. In this beef from many of the audience’s perspective, KR$NA won and is now called the lyrical god of India.
  1. War of words between KR$NA and Beard Gang:-
  • When KR$NA signed to Kalamkaar and released a few diss tracks against Emiway, the Beard Gang from Greater Noida, India started releasing diss tracks for KR$NA and calling out KR$NA on his Instagram DM’s. After that KR$NA replied to them to set a meeting with these so-called Internet gangsters which he refers to as “Softies”. They asked KR$NA to meet at Pari-chowk but after that, no one came and the matter dissolved.

Controversy

           In 2020, KR$NA accused the IPL and Disney+Hotstar of permitting the plagiarism of his 2017 song “Dekh Kaun Aaya Wapas” when creating the 2020 IPL anthem “Ayenge Hum Wapas”, an allegation which was dismissed by composer Pranav Ajayrao Malpe. Kaul responded by stating that “his team will take the legal route and approach Disney+Hotstar, which commissioned the song”. This news made limelight in the big newspapers and T.V channels.

Rise to success with Major hits

KR$NA was already giving hits in the hiphop scene but the audience was not recognizing him as a budding superstar or you can say lyrical god of DHH. His major rise to success in his career is because of his hard work and a personality that is charming when outside but killer when on the mic and in real life too. So take a look at his art with the following songs:-

  1. Kaisa Mera Desh:- Kaisa Mera Desh is an anti-corruption anthem that was focused on Commonwealth Games scam in India. This track helped in KR$NA’s growth as back in 2010 no one was speaking the political issues and he was one of those few who did.
  1. I am Ready:- I am ready was a track in his 1st collaboration with Raftaar and that track performed really well. The label Zee Music Company didn’t expect that track to be so big, but it made a noise in the underground scene and brought positive hope for the other rappers as well.
  1. Vyanjan:- An alphabetic rap that gave him recognition in the scene, through which Raftaar and Ankit reached him. Vyanjan was the track which he wrote in around 1.5 months and used a dictionary for the song.
  1. Freeverse Feast (Langar):- A response to Mumbai rapper, Emiway Bantai’s track, Freeverse Feast (Daawat). This was the track that contains Hindi and English language with different flows, rhyme schemes, metaphors, references, and wordplay all in one packet. This track is one of the sickest of all time from KR$NA. This track got him recognition in the U.S and U.K also with many reaction channels reacting to it.
  1. Seedha Makeover:- Seedha Makeover is a track aimed at Emiway Bantai which you can say one of the most brutal yet funniest diss tracks in the desi hip hop scene. The track is one of my favorites and it’s still on the top of the diss track game when it comes to flexing and eve-teasing.
  1.  Untitled:- Untitled is the track that contains subliminals to Muhfaad and Beard Gang and also his struggle story when he raps in his line” Mere Ganey chalaye ni DJ Waley Babu ne” and now he’s collaborated with DJ Waley Babu i.e. Badshah. 
  1. Maharani:- Maharani was the track aimed at Muhfaad when the lyrical beef was going on between Muhfaad and KR$NA. This track is one of the finest in the DHH with so much brutality in it.
  1. Makasam:- “Makasam” The name of the track was from Muhfaad’s single, but KR$NA used it as his final response, and after this diss track he went onto the top of the list with getting the most recognition to his name after this track. The track is so smooth with killer bars, rhyme schemes, deep references & the beat was dope which was made by Deep Kalsi.
  1. Damn:- Damn was the track which is a trap sound. It was a collaboration of Raftaar & KR$NA and has an international sound, and you can find a different voice tone in KR$NA verse. It was a track from Mr. Nair’s album.
  1. Quarantine:- Quarantine was the track in collaboration with “Young Stunners” from Pakistan. The track gained a huge response as it was the most awaited track over the borders and also it has some of the best desi rappers in it. The track turned out to be successful with having 12M+ views and counting. KR$NA took shots at Chen-k in his verse in the song.

    Year 2020&2021

   The year 2020 and 2021 has been majorly successful for KR$NA where he released many songs and his latest album “Still Here”. The songs which were released by him were:-

  1. Bag:- Bag was a track for DIVINE’s Shutdown EP and KR$NA was featured in it. It was released with audio and was recorded in the lockdown. KR$NA’s verse was loved by the audience.
  1. No Losses:- No losses is a commercial track produced by International Producer Danny E.B. The track is made on the opinion that people say he can’t make commercial songs, but also his life story is portrayed with a catchy hook and it is one of the best commercial tracks from KR$NA till now.
  1. Say My Name:- Say my name was the first hiphop track by an Indian artist which was released in 2 languages i.e. Hindi & English. This track made limelight and many American reaction channels reacted to it. The lyrics of the song were not to compete with. He set the bar very high by releasing a full-length English song after many years in his career with flow switches, lyrical murder, punchlines, etc.
  1. Roll up:- The track is in collaboration with Badshah and showed how a Delhi guy and Gurgawe wala chhora made it by flexing their lyricism and flow in the song. It’s a proper lyrical commercial track that you can vibe and bump in your woofers. Badshah talked about KR$NA before and wanted to collab with KR$NA, and with this song they made history in the hiphop scene.
  1. Saza-e-Maut:- Saza-E-Maut is an Indian drill song with a gangsta vibe in it. This track is one of my favorites and is from the album Still Here. This track showed that KR$NA can kill any beat and also Raftaar did a very great job on it. The first Indian drill song which I liked. The level of production was insane and is one of the best tracks till now.
  1. Baap Se:- Baap Se is the song which included Fotty Seven (a Delhi-based rapper) in “Asli Independent EP” and in this track, KR$NA took shots at EMiway Bantai with the line “Paas jake Dekha rapper Baal Khol Raha hai”.
  1. Crossroads:- Crossroads was an international collaboration with Hi-Rez & Royce da 5’9. KR$NA was the first Indian artist to collab with Royce da 5’9 & Hi-rez. The song crossed borders and turned out very well.
  1. Saath Ya Khilaaf:- Saath ya Khilaaf is a collaboration track between Raftaar & KR$NA and include killer bars that can make you groove on the beat.
  1. Fall Off:- Fall off is one of the best tracks from the album “Still here” and is still on a loop for many days on all the audio streaming platforms.

These were the major hits that contributed to the success of KR$NA. Still, there are many unheard songs of KR$NA that you can listen to on his Youtube & Spotify. 

His latest album Still Here is streaming on Youtube and all audio streaming services. The list of songs are:-

  1. Still Here (Intro)
  2. What’s My Name
  3. Roll Up ft. Badshah
  4. Villain ft.Karma &Ikka
  5. Dream
  6. Fall Off
  7. Saza-e-maut ft. Raftaar
  8. Na Hai time
  9. Living Legend ft. Rashmeet Kaur

Sources: Wikipedia, Raaj Jones, Rohan Cariappa, NavBharat Times, TheQuint

You can read Kalamkaar’s list of unreleased tracks & collaborations here.