Junior Sankarsh Ramachandra’s “rap noir” is a fresh and inventive aspect of Geneseo’s rap scene. It’s unusual to immediately know that someone you’re casually conversing with is an artist. This isn’t the case for Ramachandra, who has a tendency to start rapping in the presence of anyone he’s just met.
“Sometimes I’m not able to respond to casual conversation with the propensity that it’s given to me, so I just start rapping,” he said.
He doesn’t do this for his ego or for self-promotion. He does it out of the pure eagerness to share a large aspect of his personality. His love for hip-hop is all that he wants to promote.
“For as long as I’ve been at this school, I’ve been telling people I have a mixtape coming out,” Ramachandra said. “I’ve been rapping for five years, but I’ve never been satisfied completely.”
Restlessness seems to define his rapping career. It led him to rapping in the same way that it makes him rap even more and more. A verse that he liked three days ago could get consigned to the archives of his phone.
“I didn’t really have another outlet of expression, which was something I had been worrying about,” he said. “I acted in school, but what was I going to do when I got home? I’m not going to do monologues in my room.”
Before he began rapping, all Ramachandra really was interested in was playing video games and watching anime. When he discovered hip-hop, it was a breakthrough for him.
“It was life changing to say the least,” he said. “I had something to go home to.”
Although he was always a fan of the “horrible early 2000s hip-hop” that his brother would play, it wasn’t until high school that he thought of himself as a rapper.
He stumbled upon his talent during one of the quick ciphers his friends would hold in the locker room. The ciphers were laid-back and humorous, but his friends were amazed by one of his free-styled verses. They encouraged him to work on his rapping and helped him realize his “fervor and passion for words.”
During the fledgling years of his rap career, Ramachandra was still listening to top 40’s hip-hop and found himself frustrated that these songs didn’t fully take advantage of the variety and beauty of the English language. He began to use more unconventional language into his songs.
The desire for odd beauty is apparent in lines he writes today like “bark splinters at opposition.” Ramachandra’s raps have a certain quality in each line and in their loosely defined, non-linear narratives.
While he likes working within “the boundaries of structured music,” the topics and stories he puts in his lyrics are anything but structured.
“I could shift from being a samurai in the Tokugawa era, to robbing a bank, to being haunted by ghosts in the same verse,” he said. This proved true in the couple of verses he rapped where the topics went from “sniffing large knickers” to Batman and mobsters on the Vegas strip.
Given Ramachandra’s love for free-styling, it’s no surprise that his written lyrics sound like a stream of consciousness. He describes his writing process like free-styling on a page: “I’ll do a verse one take … I won’t second guess a line.”
His lyrics are personal, dark and humorous. He calls his rapping style “rap noir,” a style that doesn’t communicate the factual personal at all but rather showcases personal emotion. “I don’t want anything that I write to be misconstrued as a direct extension of my personality,” he said. “I don’t have to tell you about my life for you to understand it.”