INTERVIEW WITH MASTAKUSH by NEDHOP

Mastakush is set to return back to Nepal this summer to lead a series of Hip-Hop workshops that aims to educate young Hip-Hop enthusiasts. NepHop.net caught up with the rapper as he continues to tour around the UK to raise funds for the event.

FOR THOSE WHO DON’T KNOW YOU INTRODUCE YOURSELF:
I go by the name of Kush Limbu aka Mastakush. My mom named my twin and I after the Hindu folklore’s twin sons of Ram and Sita. Mastakush on the other hand, went well with the representaton of me as an artist – A Master of Ceremonies (MC) and a teacher, hence this choice. Initially it was Masterkush, but a friend of mine suggested Mastakush as it sounded much more smooth, so I followed his advice and refined my artist name.
I was born in Nepal but travelled to Hong Kong when I was 5, which was then followed by Germany after which I finally ended up in Belgium at the coast in a city called Oostende! The first time I came into contact with Hip-Hop was when I was 6 years old. Tupac’s ‘Do For Love’ was playing on MTV and I really digged the tune, and ever since I’ve had a great fascination for this kind of music. It was only at the age of 15 that I met up with some friends at a youth club to write some simple rhymes over a basic Hip-Hop beat. From that day on, my LOVE for Hip-Hop has continued to expand to the point where it has now become ‘universal’.

YOU RECENTLY MOVED TO LONDON FROM BLEGIUM. HOW IS THE HIP HOP VIBE DIFFERENT BETWEENTHE 2 EUROPEAN NATIONS.:
Belgium has a scene but it’s not as BIG and VIBRANT as it is over here. There are plenty of events and cyphers that take place, especially in cities like Ghent and Brussels, but the opportunities for international exposure is more prevalent in the UK. Belgians may be more laid-back than let’s say, Londoners but other than that the vibe that I get from people in the Hip-Hop circuit in most places are very similar, i.e. very positive and inspiring!

LAST YEAR YOU GOT THE OPPORTUNITY TO PERFORM AT TOPEVENT UK LAUNCH PARTY. HOW DID THAT ALL COME ABOUT AND HOW WAS THE AUDIENCES RESPONSE ?:
Most people know me as an Emcee but I’ve also been a dancer for 6 years, and my specialty is Popping. Lax from NepUnity discovered a YouTube video of my dancing skills and invited me over to do a dance performance out here, plus she had also arranged a gig for the TopEventUK Launch Party. People were very excited about my music and I was very happy with the outcome. Most of all, I had a great time.

AS THE FOUNDER OF FUNKYFRESH CAN YOU TELL US WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BEGIN SUCH PROJECT ?
I’ve participated in many workshops and my teachers have been a great source of inspiration to pass on my knowledge and continue to improve my skills. I’ve always wanted to give something back to the community I’ve grown up with as well as the country of my own biological roots. Mami and I were also particularly inspired by the Hip-Hop documentary called ‘The Hip-Hop Project’ (which I highly recommend to any Hip-Hop aficionado) that gave us great insight into ways in which to inspire others.
When I first met Mami last summer, and learnt that she was planning on making a Hip-Hop documentary as she hails from a media background, it sounded like the perfect formula to a great equation. We basically took it from there, and began talking about big ideas and projects we could put into place while she also filmed the entire process. Once her documentary about me – ‘Manifesting A Dream’ took off, we received very positive feedback and were further inspired to create more positivity in Hip-Hop especially in our native country where we feel there is so much potential but not enough guidance. This is when the idea of workshops in Nepal seemed more appealing than ever. We eventually settled on doing a one-week program that included all the 5 main Elements of Hip-Hop as well as Popping, Beatmaking & Slam Poetry. We decided to add the extra elements as we had already established great contacts in the Netherlands who are Music Producers and awesome Poetry Slammers in Nepal. With such a massive pool of talent and support on board, FunkyFresh E.L.E.M.E.N.T.S. seemed inevitable.

So far our campaign for the project to raise money has been very encouraging. We’ve raised more than USD$550 from friends, family and even complete strangers who saw potential in our vision of creating a positive Hip-Hop community of conscious artists and leaders who can continue the legacy we leave in Nepal.

So for those who are still interested in funding our campaign to help bring our vision come to life or to simply help spread the word, do visit this link: http://www.indiegogo.com/FunkyFresh-ELEMENTS You can also follow our work on our official Facebook page: www.facebook.com/funkyfreshmovement We believe that one thing always leads to another, and you never know which contact can be useful from the millions that you talk to on a daily basis. Networking is KEY.

IN YOUR SELF DOCUMENTARY YOU SAY COMMERCIAL HIP HOP IS REALLY SOMETHING THAT HAS ABSOLUTELY NO IQ. YOUR RAPS CONSIST OF POSITIVE THINKING. HOW DO YOU ENCOURAGE THE YOUNG MASSES TO OPEN UP THEIR MINDS ?:
If you trace back the history of Hip-Hop, you will see that Hip-Hop was a tool for oppressed people to voice and express themselves. Back then It was all about skills and having a unique style, because If you were to completely ape the same style and music, they would look down on you because of the lack of creativity. Nowadays if you switch on the telly or radio, you will hear the same styles over and over again. It’s the “cookie-cutter” effect. Same flow, same delivery, same content! The true way to open up your mind is to accept yourself for who you are, your own personality and put that into your passion and NOT be afraid to be different! Always be willing to learn something new everyday, because I have a saying that goes like this : “A true master knows that he/she will always stay a student”

WHAT DOES NEDHOP MEANS TO YOU ?
I’m glad to see my fellow NepHop artists are doing their thing, the NepHop scene is rising and I give my 100% support to it. There is mad potential, but perhaps some fresh inspiration would level the notch higher and elevate it to an international standard.

TALKING OF NEPALI RAPPERS, ARE THERE ANY YOU ARE CURRENTLY FEELING ?
Mr. K.C has been in the game for more than 10 years and has already established his own unique style and flow, which I really dig.
Duke because to me this guy is not just a lyricist he’s a poet at heart, his flow is at a level that goes way beyond the “average” MC and his stage presence simply commands RESPECT!
Mc Flo because the dude is a BEAST, he comes at you raw with such a sharp flow and great delivery!
Dougie is a true gem to NepHop as his lyrics and flow are definitely something to watch out for. His lyrics run very deep, and I like that.
Tight Eyez is a ‘diamond in the rough’ with so much potential and he will also be performing for our next FunkyFresh event: Fresh Fish for a very good reason! He’s an MC who can truly have fun with his work and bring a funky vibe to the Nephop circuit!

TELL US ABOUT YOUR UPCOMING PROJECTS.
I was working on my album: Highway Of Life, but I’ve decided to put that aside as I have my FunkyFresh ELEMENTS workshops coming up, so instead of an official album I’ll be first working on an EP called : The Elements. This mixtape album will consist of 5 tracks with each track representing an element of Hip-Hop. The ‘Heart & Spirit’ M² album with Mami is also in the works, but that too will have to wait until our big project takes off. The most important thing at the moment is for us to prioritize, and I feel it’s always better to put your 100% into anything that you do, than speed up the process simply for the sake of putting it out there to catch up with the rest.

FROM YOUR MUSIC THAT WE’VE HEARD SO FAR NONE HAS ANY REFERENCE TO NEPAL. WILL THAT CHANGE WHEN THE ALBUM DROPS ? WILL YOUR FANS GET TO HEAR YOU RAP IN NEPALI ?
I have thought about this and yes, I will be making beats with Nepalese samples that represent sounds of Nepal and lyrics that will have plenty of references to my roots. It’s just a matter of time, and I have yet to learn so much about my homeland which I’m hoping to make the most of when I go there this summer.
And to be honest, I am really trying to improve my Nepali as I have grown up speaking mostly Dutch and English. Ideally, I would like to reach MC Flo’s level of verbal skills as he kills it in every one of his Nepali tracks! (smiles)

AWAY FROM MUSIC WHAT ELSE IS MASTAKUSH CURRENTLY UP TO ?
As I’ve mentioned I also have a passion for popping. It gives me this feeling of freedom when my moves resonate with the sound of the music. I let go of everything and become one with the universe. There is nothing compared to that feeling. I regularly attend street events and cyphers and since coming back to the UK, I have been doing more ‘observing’ than stepping into the circle to learn from so many amazing dancers out here.

Mastakush perform at London’s Blag Club Friday 24th June.

Source: NedHop

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