Out of all the rappers in Nepal, Mc Flo distinctively stands out. Unlike other stereotypical rappers, he dresses up neatly, does not have tattoos and, most importantly, rarely uses cuss words in his songs. Until 2016, no one knew what he looked like either. Away from the limelight, he kept on producing music that he felt would relate to as he has become one of the few respected figures in Nepal’s rap scene.
A rejected visa meant an accepted rapper status
Born as Anurag Sharma, Mc Flo started his rap career in 2008. He had finished his high school and wanted to leave for the United States for his higher studies. But, fate had something else planned as he was not given a visa.
“I had a lot of free time then,” he says.
Growing up, Sharma wrote a lot of poems but due to other distractions, he had stopped doing so. But, when he had so much free time, he got back into writing poems again. That was the beginning of his rap career as writing poems while listening to rap music gave him the idea to try his hand at rap.
“Rap is a combination of rhythm and poetry. I didn’t have a hard time writing as I was already quite accustomed to it. I sat in my room, wrote songs and recorded it at my home,” he says.
Mc Flo says visa rejection, first to the US and then to Canada, was the main reason he got into rap. But, the formative years were not easy. He knew no one from the scene so he spent most of his free time in his room writing and rapping. He knew that to become good at it, he needed to learn how to express what he had written and put his heart into honing that skill.
“If you don’t practice, you won’t be good. Not just in rap but in every aspect of life,” he says.
He perfected the art, but he did not go to a studio. Instead, he bought a headset and started recording songs at home. He says he recorded over 100 songs at home and released it on various platforms. But, by 2015, he knew he needed better production equipment.
“Believe it or not, by 2015, I had a fan base. Their comments and suggestions inspired me to keep on making music while I was busy with a day job. To appease my fans, I went to a recording studio, but apart from sound quality, I don’t think there’s anything different.”
Soon Mc Flo’s fans started asking him to make himself public. Until 2016, no one had seen him and everyone was curious. He finally showed himself and got mixed responses.
“Some felt I was way older than they thought I was while some didn’t believe me. It was funny, to be honest.”
Standing out like a sore thumb
This was quite uncomfortable for Mc Flo at the start because he did not get into rap for fame or money. All he wanted to do was to touch the lives of people who listened to his music. This is why he does not swear in his songs nor does he talk about smoking marijuana or drinking.
“My songs, like my lifestyle, are different to that of other rappers in Nepal. I want to show people rap isn’t all about swearing and making beautiful girls dance in the video. It can be personal too.”
He says he wants people like him, who are frustrated with life, to listen to his music and relate to it. He wants people to stop doing drugs and change their life, but it is not as easy.
“That’s the goal along with changing the perception of a common man about rap.”
When asked if he thinks he is losing new fans due to his philosophy, Mc Flo disagrees. He says he does not care about being famous. Producing relatable and meaningful music is all he cares about.
This is why he has not really had any ‘friends’ from the scene. Mc Flo and Yama Buddha came into the scene together. But, he refers to Yama Buddha as a peer more than a friend. There is a group of his fans who call him the second coming of YB. He says compliments like that inspire him because being compared to someone who changed the rap scene in Nepal is an obviously good thing.
“They consider him a legend which he is. If they compare me with him, I feel I’m doing something right.”
Changing tunes for changing times
But, Mc Flo has changed a lot since he burst onto the scene in 2008. His writing has matured a lot along with this music which is more polished than it was back then. This is all thanks to years of experience, he says.
His songs say a lot about trauma and how to get through them. He says almost all songs echo what he has been through. With them, he wants people to understand that it is okay to fail if you have the will to get back up.
“It’s my story of pain and trepidation and coming through that.”
This is why his music is not as popular as those of other rappers who are making music based on the demand of the market. But, Mc Flo wants to be true to himself and his art and continue to make music that he relates to.
“Some talk about smoking weed; others about shitting in Kathmandu. These songs are catchy but they don’t give a message. But, it’s fine I think because their fans like it and you have to give music that the fans like.”
But, that is not the case just in Nepal as it is evident in music all over the world. Mc Flo says that what is trendy always sells more than what is personal.
“There’s nothing we can do about it. I’ll continue to make music like this regardless of what people think. But that said, I do want to show people that rap can be different and doesn’t always have to be bad. If I can do that, I’ll be very happy with my career.”