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FTS And Their Various Frequencies In Time And Space

“Rap is the new rock n’ roll. We the rock stars."

This sampled line is how the track ‘Logic’ starts, one of Tienas', Quest's, RaySon4 7’s, and Nuke's earliest projects that is available to the public. Together with Specter and Zero Chill, they form the Mumbai-based rap collective Frequency Time Space, or just FTS. These bandmates have grown to become a fine portrayal of the variety offered by Mumbai’s rap scene, providing an arguably orthodox contrast to gully rap. But before the privilege of writing and producing EPs, FTS was still a growing collective but with an emerging difference.

From left: Tienas, RaySon4 7, Zero Chill, Specter, Quest, Nuke. Credits: Anurag Sharma @anurag_sharma_

Logic starts with fiery bars from Tienas and Quest backed by a tight production from Josh Petruccio. Then, Nuke tells his tale that begins and ends with notions of death as he sees fit. The track finally ends with RaySon4 7’s "ambience tour" of the solar system, unfortunately missing Specter. Throughout this and many other tracks, FTS began laying their foundations to not only strengthen their base as good rappers, but make themselves great by being able to branch out of that base.

Tienas has shown immense versatility. From his earliest FTS projects which solidified him as India’s wonderboy, ready for the Western audience to seamlessly working on trap metal in Fubu and Nice Guy. Quest has etched two marks, first as a kid who could write tight English bars as seen in Logic and also as a Hindi rapper who can effortlessly rap about life experiences as seen in his latest collaborative EP ‘Aaj Raat ki Peshkash (Tonight’s Special Attraction)’. RaySon4 7’s first track on the FTS YouTube channel, called ‘Messed it up’, talks and expresses the grief of the shortcomings of being human in a relationship, supported with gloomy visuals and production. While RaySon4 7 specializes in bringing an ambience with a tinge of gloom, his latest album, ‘Get young, Live broke, Die alone’, starts with a barrage of eclectic upbeat strings melding into a beautiful melody.

Specter’s first track on their YouTube, Kin, is supported by a dreamy pop production backed with near-dreamy vocals. In stark contrast, he plays around with vocal distortions liberally in his collaboration with Tienas titled ‘Squidward Nose’. Zero Chill burst into the scene only but recently, but he shows great promise in complementing the already-existing sounds of FTS, as seen in Tienas’ sophomore album Season Pass.

Credits: Ashutosh Pandey @bajupandey

Which brings us to Nuke. 1997, his first full-fledged English audio-visual project released in March 2019, uses the roadside joint at Bandra’s Family Court Road as the setting. With a death-stare that doesn’t waver with each bar’s intensity, Nuke brings to life his journey with love. With the seriousness of a forsaken poet with only vices to indulge in, he journeys forward with him, in his words, “just tryna penetrate and reach the pinnacle”. And with that said, he throws away the cigarette given to him.

Bhatku (Wanderer) is his first EP which begins with the track ‘Bichda’ (Separated). Its line “who joh dhun hamari, sangeet mai na badle (that which is our rhythm doesn’t translate into a melody)” euphemises the distress of having human harmonies whose expression cannot be found in a tune. It sets the grounds for relatability for his listeners as it complements the longing in his voice, expressing the loss of faith and trust that leaves a person astray. His second and title track builds on the themes of betrayal. That leads him to compare himself with the others who climbed the ladders leaving him to take the first rung. And when the ground doesn’t provide him with a firm footing to even find what his emotions are, he takes to the skies to carefree roam like a bird. His final track, ‘Baechain’ (Distraught and Lost), tops off the idea of Bhatku in romance with the starting lines “I’m trying to find you when I’m sober”.

Fast forward to October 2020, and Nuke’s music now has a mood other than despair, as seen in his latest EP ‘Tere Ittar Si Khushboo. Kahi Na Mili‘. Now, he possesses fabrications of optimism as seen in the happy emotions in the first song of his EP’s film that speaks about unhealed wounds. The track, Chandi ka chamcha, begins the film with beautiful renditions of love, first of companionship between a lost dog and a boy, and then in glimpses of attraction between the boy and a girl. All capturing the lyrics of doing something wonderful when there is a pleasant atmosphere.

The second song begins with dread in the music, hopelessness in the lyrics, but a stark contrast of these moods in the video’s progression. A vague sense of dire problems headed in the future lurks in beneath the happy serendipity between the two. The third track continues the strange juxtaposition between the distraught-sounding vocals and the cheerful contrast in the video.

The final track unravels the series of stories to be a tragedy that the boy expresses in music. This fluently makes the previous tracks fall into place as sequences in the process of the final betrayal. “Tere hawaale the, pal pal bekaar tha (I was all yours, but all moments were useless)” highlights his emotional vestiges in her which subsequently bore only pain (and the songs). A surprise ending shows them reunited, only if one doesn’t take into account the lyrics “Tu bass ek khwaab tha (You were just a dream)”.

Throughout the EP, Nuke manages to sustain through his sentencing which expresses itself in 4 tracks. He’s sentenced to grief and separation, much like his earlier tracks, and the other half of the sentencing lies in producing these tracks. Nuke’s evolution as a firebrand rapper who spoke about overcoming now lies under the overbearing burden of bringing these EPs, Bhatku and TISKKNM, to fruition.

Credits: Anurag Sharma @anurag_sharma_

Nevertheless, his struggle represents much of FTS’s larger growth as rappers who began by a certain form of imitation but slowly found their own voice. From Quest’s lines in 'Logic' to his latest EP, from RaySon4 7’s switches in production in 'Logic’s second-half ambience to his latest EP, from Specter taking inspiration from Radiohead to journeying to a polar opposite in ‘Squidward Nose’, from Zero Chill bringing to life the sounds of FTS, from Tienas’ English bars to Nuke’s Hindi musings, and from Nuke’s maturity from 1997 to his latest. For as much as I call tell, Tienas has always been in his element.

FTS began with the thought of rap in hip-hop and has grown to embrace rap as a medium for various genres. For them, they don’t need rap to be the new rock n’ roll to be rockstars. They just need rap to be.

You can follow FTS on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Spotify.

Listen to Nuke's latest EP on Spotify.

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