Goan rapper, hip hop artiste, producer, and singer, songwriter, Nathan Joseph Mendes aka Tsumyoki can’t believe how his life has changed after winning the MTV Europe Music Awards in the Best Indian Local Act last week, beating the likes of Divine, Mali, When Chai Met Toast and Dee MC. It would’ve been a proud moment for Tsumyoki to be at the 2023 MTV EMAs, which were scheduled to take place on November 5 in Paris, France, but due to the Israel-Hamas war, the event was cancelled.
From White Tee in 2019, to Daboij in 2021, an album from which the single Jackets made waves and got a great response from his growing fan base, to 2021 with his debut EP Way Too Messy, it is apparent that Tsumyoki is an artist manifesting good music. Apart from his solo music, Tsumyoki is also one of the founding members of a band called Goa Trap Culture (GTC) or GTC Crew. The band, which is best known for its album Daboij, includes artists Elttwo, 2jaym, and Kidd Mange.
In June this year, the 22 year old released his fourth project A Message From The Moon. Tsumyoki or simply Yoki as he is lovingly called, was also featured in Goan Insider's 50 Most Influential People list two years ago. Tsumyoki who also plays the piano, guitar and ukulele, has been performing all over the country and has made a name for himself on the music circuit and gaining fans wherever he goes.
Ahead of his Mumbai tour (November 16) at antiSocial, Lower Parel, the rapper gives FPJ a glimpse of his journey.
Excerpts from the interview:
How does it feel to win an MTV EMA?
It’s an indescribable feeling and a sign that my hard work is paying off. My mom started crying. Fact that I was able to make her so proud of me will be one of my greatest achievements.
What qualities do you think put you on the top of other Indian rappers / hip hop artistes?
My sound is very different and I'm very versatile. I go to very different genres and don't hold myself back with regards to anything.
What is your songwriting process like for all parts that go into making the song?
Yes, I don't have a process I follow. Honestly it just comes to me or what comes to my mind and I lay it down. Sometimes it is good and at times not so much. But I make sure I jot down the best possible points and go about it that way. I am also happy that Gully Gang, my record label, gives me the freedom to do whatever I want and supports everything I do.
For those who may not have heard your music, tell us how you got into music?
Music has always been in my life, my grandfather was a musician long ago and personally I got into music because I was always surrounded by it. It started with me writing a diss track to one of my friends. I worked well and I then realised I could write songs.
While in school, did you take part in school competitions for music and other arts?
Yes I always used to take part in competitions many many times usually as a dancer or singer. Academically I got my degree in Economics at Xavier's.
Your real name is Nathan Joseph Mendes, why did you adopt the name Tsumyoki?
Honestly I looked at the mirror and it came to me, but it's a made up word which means vision, productivity and a positive mindset and that's basically the three things I cared about.
How did your family respond to your decision to become a rapper?
My mom and my sister were for it, but the rest of the family didn't believe in me at all. Now I'm proving them wrong one step at a time.
Your fourth project ‘A Message From The Moon’. What is the story behind the title and what does it mean to you as a person?
Basically, the public realises the moon is shining, but don't give enough credit to the sun. It's perfectly explained in my intro, the message for the viewers. The
album took me three years to make and has 13 tracks that talk about me and my trauma over the past years.
Have you collaborated with any Goan artiste on the album?
All my collaborations till date have been with Goan artistes who also happen to be my close friends. Starting from my album Daboij to Way Too Messy and then A Message From The Moon or AMFTM as everyone calls it now, I've only worked with Goan artists. I am still with Goa Trap Culture, although I decided to have a solo career along with other things I was doing.
From all the songs you have done, which do you feel is the most striking in your mind?
Who are your all time favorite rappers from India and overseas and why?
Divine, Seedhe Maut in India, internationally Xxxtentacion is my favourite rapper.
If it wasn’t music, what would you have been?
I would be a great salesman.
What is your take on the potential impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on music?
I think it'll convert music more from an art form to a product.
What music plans do you have for the year 2024?
This week, I am performing at antiSocial, Lower Parel, in Mumbai on 16th November as part of my AMFTM album tour. Besides that, I have a lot of projects in the pipeline and I can't wait for my fans to listen to it.