After releasing what can already be considered one of the year’s best albums in HS;SR, and following up with an impressive array of singles, 2019 is shaping up to be the year of the Rat. We caught up with him to chat about the post album reflection, his future music plans and how he likes to make music.
Released early in 2019, He Said; Still Running (HS;SR) is already a contender for album of the year. Delving deep into trauma and personal battles, the album explored the emotional psyche of Auckland based artist Dharmarat. While being a personal release for the young artist HS;SR received a fair amount of acclaim and streaming success. “It feels good to have something that I’ve put some heart into out there, and everyone sort of gravitating towards it,” says Dharmarat.
Outside the normal scope of turn up rap, HS;SR is a mellow ride along, you wouldn’t generally hear played at a party. Given the personal nature of the album, seeing the success was a motivating experience for Dharmarat, “It’s cool, I guess it means expressing yourself honestly and openly is possible, and people will enjoy what you’re saying. It shows that you don’t have to actually lie.”
Dharmarat, revealed the exhausting process involved in making the album. “Making that album took a lot out of me. So, I’m glad the love I put into it and put out there, came back to me. I really like that part of it. I like that people appreciated how far that I went. It’s not every day that an artist can really do that, because it’s pretty tender some of the things. It’s awesome, really awesome I didn’t think it was going to be successful at all.”
Creating an album is a tiring and mentally draining experience. With some artists taking long hiatus’s before releasing any new content. But there seems to be no rest for Dharmarat, who has followed HS;SR with a series of stellar singles and an upcoming mixtape called ‘Now What’, which is out now. A change of perspective was important for the rapper who wants to try and take a less serious approach to music for a while.
“Making music like HS;SR all the time would kill me. That’s the thing with making those personal songs. It shows your personal demons, It’s like pulling up a chair and hanging out with them. I don’t want to do that every time I make a song. I don’t wanna dig into something that’s really intense all the time. I took a break from that to make some fun songs, and stir some controversy maybe.”
The upcoming project will be a breath of fresh air for Dharmarat, who is looking to have some fun with music after an emotionally tiring album. ‘Now What’ is filled with features and production credits from a variety of friends, and proved to be an enjoyable experience for the hard working artist.
“I feel like it’s better that way. I feel if you’re just making songs with artists that are big, it’s shit. It doesn’t sound right to me, like hearing Ariana Grande and 2 Chainz make a song together. You guys aren’t boys that’s just weird, I mean it’s cool as fuck but I like this way better. For me at least, it’s better to keep it all in house with your friends having fun.”
Although the tape will be filled with friends, it’s certainly not lacking star power. With the likes of AP, Bobandii, Lil Dust, Smokeygotbeatz and more all receiving credits.
“It’s awesome, me and the VSB fellas make music every week. I just drunkenly churned out like four songs last night. It’s just natural making music with those fellas. Bobandii came over and did his stuff on a Friday night with me and VSB. We had a few drinks and made the song. There’s a bit at the start where Bobandii’s talking about fucking me up in a freestyle battle and it’s crackup. Those dudes from the scene are actually my friends. AP as well, he sent a verse he recorded at Dera’s I think. Lil dust that’s the bro, he’s from the South though, so I’ve never actually met him.”
Although the recent singles haven’t been as personal and emotional as HS;SR, they have been doing exceptionally well on streaming platforms. Being added to a variety of Spotify curated playlists and receiving close to 100,000 streams, the rapper reflects on the irony of this success.
“I’m killing it way more now than I was when HS;SR dropped, and it’s like I’m not even fucking trying. I’m just dropping songs. I didn’t really dig deep to make these songs. It’s crazy man, but it’s just the way that works. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.”
With the success of mainstream playlisting it can take just one inclusion to make or break a release. However, it is usually the more ‘party focused’ up-tempo songs that seem to receive the most success. With more introspective tracks often not getting the shine they deserve.
“It’s kind of the way it is. No one’s gonna play sad songs at a party. They’re gonna play all the pumping ones and put those in their playlists. People tend to only listen to HS;SR when they’re at home by themselves or driving.”
However, this realisation doesn’t deter Dharmarat from making the music he wants to, focusing instead to continue to make what-ever feels right at the time.
“I couldn’t care less about the streams. I’m just playing the game right now just because I’ve never done it. I’ve never properly played the game how I’m doing it now. It’s cool, but I’m not gonna do it forever though.”
With a discography to rival some of the greats it seems like there’s been no rest for the artist, who often produces, writes, mixes and masters his own work. Speaking on his future music plans the artist has a coy response.
“I’m thinking of taking a year off next year, not releasing anything. I feel like I’ve done enough for the meantime. Yea man it’s been a lot of shit, I could die tomorrow and my shits safe. My discography is safe haha.”
With 2019 already dubbed the year of the rat, we’ll be eagerly awaiting whatever else Dharmarat has in store. Check out his latest project Now What here;