Monday, August 30, 2010

Finding Nimo

There is certain music that defines periods in your life. For me, my college years have a very vivid soundtrack, a set of songs that when I hear them I automatically go back to my glory days living on Highland Place on the north side of UC Berkeley. One of those songs is called 'Blood Brothers', by the hip hop group Karmacy:

Brace yourself if you haven't ever heard this song. It's a rap. In Gujarati. Karmacy is a group of 4 ABCD's who have both a love and talent for hip hop music. When I was in college, Amit gifted me their album, 'The Movement'. It immediately blew my mind. All my life I had listened to hip hop, but the voices, the stories, the context, were all foreign. Black culture wasn't something in my personal experience, I was a participant from a distance. But then here was Karmacy's music that not only had the undertones, the cadence, the brashness, the spirit of hip hop, but also came from a perspective that I could directly relate to. It hit close to home, like music I would have made myself had I pursued a hip hop career.

The song Blood Brothers was especially influential to me. Let me emphasize again: it is a rap... but in Gujarati! It really was a clashing of worlds in my mind. For all intents and purposes it sounded like any other high-quality rap song I had listened to. But it was in Gujarati! I couldn't get over it, and I kept listening to it, all throughout college.

Fast forward to this summer in India and I catch wind that a dude named Nimesh Patel has been volunteering at Manav Sadhna. And then I get some vague details about how he is a rapper. That was enough, I knew immediately. It was Nimo from Karmacy, the lead lyricist in Blood Brothers. When I met him the first time, I didn't know what to expect, but I was excited. My main goal was to tell him how much his music meant to me, and my secondary goal was to get him into in a freestyle session. The first goal was sort of achieved, the second one failed altogether. The thing I didn't anticipate about Nimo is how incredibly humble the guy is. He would barely accept my praise for his music, though he was appreciative. The other thing is that Nimo has moved on from Karmacy onto other ways of expressing his creative talents. He is working with MS kids to put on street plays and other types of performance arts. So yeah, the freestyle session didn't quite happen, but I still have hope.

So why do I bring this all up? Two reasons. The first is to rub it in Amit's face that I am friends with Nimo from Karmacy. Yes Amit, Nimo and I are friends. 4 lyfe. Second reason is a fun story that happened recently about Blood Brothers. Last weekend a bunch of friends, including Nimo, were on our way back from a weekend in Pavagadh celebrating Maddog's birthday when we stopped off in Nadiad to visit Santram mandir. We got a tour and hung out, and after dinner met with some kids who were attending school there. For entertainment, Nimo gathered 20 or so kids around and busted out a verse from Blood Brothers! I was mesmerized, I didn't even think to reach for a camera to snap a picture (really kicking myself about that now). It was awesome, and though I don't think the kids got it they were loving it. But no way they loved it as much as I did. Yes Amit, I heard Nimo perform Blood Brothers live.

Fast forward again a couple days later, and I'm in my gym Parsana working out. I have my headphones on, but I catch a note of the music playing on the gym's stereo system, which they typically play Bollywood stuff on. But when I take off my headphones to listen closely, I recognize the song immediately. Blood Brothers. Playing in my gym. Nimo, there is no doubt about it, you are officially famous!


  1. neil -- great post on nimo! the man is inspiring.

    i was tagged with the "wooden bling" album and literally every song on there is great.

    and the amazing thing is, like rivers cuomo, nimo's music is only going to continue steppin it up as he himself does!



  2. neil,

    you'll like this piece from 'wooden bling'


  3. Super inspiring story of a super inspiring being :)

    Nimo is one of those few people who just loves to make people smile, is humble to the core and generous as his being!

    Lovedd the reading! Thank you :)

  4. Wow! Everyone has an amazing story tucked away in them. I had a picture of Nimo rapping at the ashram but lost all the pics of our retrun trip from Madhu's b'day. The memories will always be strong and if you need a 'eye-witness' to tell Amit, I'm there for you!