Music, Rhythm of Love
Rhythm of Love: In conversation with Nentong Konyak
Eastern Mirror follows Nentong Konyak’s musical journey in today’s Rhythm of Love.
Nentong Konyak is an upcoming rapper from Mon district who wants to make an impact in life and fight for the rights of his people through rap music, and his latest music video ‘King of the Jungle’ is a paragon of this belief.
Eastern Mirror: Could you introduce yourself to our readers and share about your musical journey. What drew you into rap music and what was the first rap song that you ever listened to.
Nentong Konyak: My name is Nentong Konyak from Maoting village in Mon district, Nagaland. I graduated last year from Dimapur Government College with Economics as my honours. I am a rapper by profession. I always had interest in music since my childhood days irrespective of genre but I fell in love with hip-hop when I was in college and started writing my own songs.
The real challenge for me was to write my lyrics without curse words as I thought that rap does not work without slang words. I do not use curse words as it is not in my culture and I wanted to keep it real for myself. I wrote my first song titled “Hold on” in the midst of Covid-19 featuring Hamshen Konyak and it received quite a good response from the audience. That song pushed me to think bigger, better and keep going. That’s how I started my rap career.
I don’t remember the first rap song I ever listened to but I remember listening to songs of Gym Class Heroes like ‘The fighter stereo heart’ , back when there were no facilities(like the internet), and the only way I could listen to the songs was to turn on VH1 channel.
Eastern Mirror: Which rap artiste were you inspired by and which rap style do you want to inculcate?
Nentong Konyak: There are many rappers who inspired me when I was learning how to rap but the one artiste who inspired me the most was Nathan John Feuerstein, known by his initials ‘NF’. I learned from him that in rap, one does not have to have fancy English/words but should be real and rap as I am.
Since NF has inspired me, I want people to see my rap as a ‘real rap style’, as every time I write, I make sure that there is a message in it.
Eastern Mirror: What makes you different from other rappers in the industry?
Nentong Konyak: I don’t know if I should put it this way or not but I am different from other rappers because I write my lyrics based on my emotion, experience and what I see in our society.
Eastern Mirror: Your latest song ‘King of Jungle’ has garnered a lot of appreciation from the people as it is a song which speaks about the reality of what people are facing. Could you please share more about your latest music?
Nentong Konyak: KOJ is not just a song for me because I put a lot of things on the line. Before my graduation, I was always out of my village for my studies and I used to go home only during vacations. I was never there when my village was facing hard times but I was there only for good times. After my graduation, it was like my work was over and now I became jobless. My parents asked me to come back home so I returned home and started living there. Only then did I realise that we were facing difficulties in every aspect of life. We don’t have roads so we have to carry rice, salt and all the other essentials from our nearest town Naginimora, which is approximately 20 km away. At first I was like, ‘it is ok to walk’ but looking at my parents having a hard time climbing up the hill carrying stuff on their back broke my heart because they always wished the best for me. They gave all the money they had for my education and so I felt it was my responsibility to bring changes in my village. But I did not know how to do it because there was nobody to guide me in that field.
I have already spoken about this in my song but many young people in my village are addicted to pills and drugs. But I understand why they are using — the amount of pain and physical struggle they are facing is crazy and I can’t even say ‘don’t use it’ because they have to keep working and the only way they can lessen their pain is when they consume drugs. But, yes of course some use it for fun.
Looking at all this situation, I decided to put our struggle in music form and that’s how KOJ came about.
Sometimes I feel that I am lucky to be born in such a place because from my childhood days I knew that we had nothing so I had to keep myself humble and happy with what I had.
Eastern Mirror: In your latest song, you have also mentioned names or alluded to some of the rappers like G’nie, Moka Koza, Big Dane and Jpolland. Have any of these artistes approached you for collaboration?
Nentong Konyak: Yes, in my song KOJ I did shout out to many rappers. I could not name all the rappers from NE but my respect goes to all the rappers who have been working.
Yes, JP did respond to my calling and I am thankful to him. Other rappers have shown their love for me and it’s cool, maybe in the future we might have something.
Eastern Mirror: In what way do you aim to make a difference through your songs?
Nentong Konyak: I want to move minds and even change life and fight for rights. I believe that if I can change one person that person can change another person and that’s how the chain will go on. That is my aim as an artiste — to have an impact on real life and not just entertainment.
Eastern Mirror: The new generation of ‘mumble’ rappers are rapidly making a name for themselves in the Hip-hop genre. From your point of view, what’s your take on mumble and lyrical rap and which one would you prefer out of the two?
Nentong Konyak: Personally, I don’t have any problem with mumble rappers; they are doing it in their own way and if they are making a name out of it, good for them. But for me, I prefer to write something that makes sense. Now, it is up to people to recognise what should be appreciated.
Eastern Mirror: Would you prefer to write your song or would you consider a ghost writer?
Nentong Konyak: I definitely prefer to write my own lyrics but if I can relate to the lyrics and feel it, I can try ghost writers as well.
Eastern Mirror: Beefing with other rappers has always been present in rap culture and there were few instances where rappers from Nagaland released ‘diss’ tracks against other rappers. What’s your take on that?
Nentong Konyak: First of all, I am not a diss rapper because I feel bad saying something bad or to insult someone. But as we know, it has been there in rap culture just like Moko Koza said it in his interview, it is something which helps rappers go deeper in their minds and bring out the best out of them.
Eastern Mirror: Hip-hop/Rap music has come a long way in Nagaland compared to earlier days. Where do you think the future of the rap music industry lies?
Nentong Konyak: I believe that hip-hop has a bright future in Nagaland and it will be big.
Eastern Mirror: What is your biggest weakness?
Nentong Konyak: I am a man with lots of weaknesses but I should say that my biggest weakness is not being able to be in an intimate relationship with God while I know that everything I have is from Him.
Eastern Mirror: Any new songs in the pipeline?
Nentong Konyak: I can only say I am working and it may take some time.