Upper Arlington senior Harsh Patel works to turn his rap dream into reality.
By Matias Grotewold
As Marshall Mathers, also known as Eminem aptly put it: “We can come from practically nothing to being able to have anything that we want.” Here at UAHS, a parallel dream emerges in the form of senior Harsh Patel, also known as Hershey. What started as a simple pastime in the Whitehall High School cafeteria three years ago has now developed into a major passion for Hershey.
In the pursuit of his dream, Hershey has a recording studio in his basement, a half-dozen covers and two original releases. But Hershey is not just following in the footsteps of any other rapper. Since he is of Indian descent, he wants to be the “first of many Indian rappers.”
Drawing inspiration from mainstream and underground rappers alike, Hershey found the original inspiration to become a rapper in Jay-Z’s lyrics from the song “A Dream” which read “Remind yourself. Nobody built like you, you design yourself.”
“[This quote] just means to be yourself in everything,” Hershey said. “I’m trying to just be me when [I] write my thoughts and share [them], and if someone doesn’t agree with me…then [they] don’t have to listen.”But Hershey does not try to pinpoint any single rapper as the sole inspiration for a song or set of lyrics. Instead, little parts from each rapper’s style inspire him as he develops his own unique style.
“For the flow, I look to Drake and Em[inem]…one rapper says [something] one way, another says the same thing a different way. That’s flow,” Hershey said. “J Cole, Jay-Z and [Dr.] Dre: I like the storytelling in [their] songs. My sound is most like Nas’ or [Dr.] Dre’s.”
Hershey said he starts his process by finding a beat with a defining mood from which he can then build the lyrics. He looks to buy beats, usually percussion based and mixed with synthesizer sounds, from producers online, but hopes to make his own in the future. From there, the lyrics usually begin to grow around a few “witty lines” that come after listening to the beat.
In a battered spiral notebook, Hershey jots down lyric ideas and examples on the left while the final lyrics slowly evolve on the right. It’s a process that can take hours. Words, lines and sometimes whole verses are crossed off and rewritten. A simple rhyme scheme develops into multi-syllabic rhyming, and then a flow emerges.
“I might experiment with different flows, or the rhythm of the words, and if I find one that matches the beat, then I can incorporate that flow on [a] specific beat,” Hershey said.
From the simple phrase “flow is so cold,” Hershey molds the idea and adds to it, turning it into a line, a rhyme, and eventually there emerges: “Flow colder than the shoulder of a gold digger when a broke dude is with her.”
Sprinkled with metaphors and multi-syllabic rhymes, a rap develops, and if the flow matches a beat, then Hershey moves on to recording and then releasing.
“I usually record alone… If you do something alone, you do it better,” Hershey said, adding that he has recorded with senior Cheryl Ricca because she is more experienced in the recording process, having recently released her own EP.
For Hershey’s first release, “For My City”, which features Winchester, Calif. rapper Marka, Hershey felt he had to use producer Superstar O’s beat once he heard it. A friend put Hershey in contact with Marka, and Hershey’s first original song, “For My City,” was released on SoundCloud, an audio distribution website, on Dec. 7, 2011. The majestic beat, found online and produced by SuperStar O, combined with Marka’s catchy hook and Hershey’s Buckeye allusions throughout the flow come together for an impressive release.
Hershey’s Facebook fan page brags of the song having been listened to in Italy and Montenegro and the track on SoundCloud proudly displays the number of plays and downloads. A post on Hershey’s personal Facebook page boasts of a video critique response he received from rapper B.o.B. and his manager.
It is a huge step from toying with the idea of becoming a rapper to actually writing, recording and releasing. However, it is an enormous step to go from just another young, ambitious rapper to actually discovering a sound or style that is original enough to have an impact on the genre.
“Every major artist has their own style which they use in all their songs… If you listen to a song and recognize the artist just [by] noticing the style and voice, [they’ve] done it right,” Hershey said. “I’m going to experiment with lots of flows and voices until I find the one that I really love and everybody appreciates.”
Hershey also said that some artists never find a style with which they’re comfortable, either because they fail to experiment with the right ones or because they don’t use the right styles in the right ways.
“What I’m trying to find [is] the voice and the style…so people who [have] heard me before can notice me when my song plays.” As Hershey willingly acknowledged, “In every song, my style changes dramatically… I still have to find [mine]… It takes years to find [your] style.”