From Recording My First Rap In School To Battle Rapping At A Live Set

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It’s 11.35 am here in Poppins Cafe near my folk’s place in West Drayton.

Here’s me:

Deepak Shukla

I’m being mega unproductive with good reason lol

I’m listening to one of my old albums on Soundcloud:

Road Rap Season 1:

It’s crazy to think it’s almost been a decade since I recorded this mix cd.

I’m still itching to have another crack at it and see how I get on if I recorded something today!


As you know – music was a huge part of my life (and still is except all I do is listen these days :P).

I first started ‘professionally’ recording music when I was around 18 years old.

The first proper studio I visited was Bollo Studio on South Acton Estate with the Dark Side Family as we began our recording journey.

However, my true journey would start when I was 16 years old and recording my first raps in my great schoolboy friend Thomas Perryman’s home.


Our relationship had been a funny one, to begin with.

From me meeting Tom at 14 years old as a gawky Indian kid with my ‘tash, skinny frame, bowl haircut to me ‘following him around…’

To us landing ourselves in the same friendship group, becoming friends, recording raps at his family home, playing football together and ultimately still being friends today.

We were an unlikely pair.


Tom was 6ft (at 15 years old), athletic, quick-witted, well-liked by his peers and his teachers and had an acid tongue alongside Kye Cole – someone who I’ll talk about at length in another letter.

But so it turned out – he would become instrumental in me laying down my first ever raps at 16 years old.

By this time I’d been ‘spitting’ in my middle-class mainly all-white secondary school.

Specifically in the back of my ‘DT (design & technology) class’ with Mr Hunter-Jones.

I’d even been held back in detention for this very same reason a couple of times.

Once Tom and Kye (my two best school chums/bullies at Bisopshalt School) had caught wind of the fact I was writing ‘garage bars’ it didn’t take more than a second before it was spreading like wildfire across our group of friends and their 2nd-degree network.

I still remember being outside my drama block where I’d go for lessons in Year 11 with Miss Mcghee and Leanne and Candice saying to me ‘hey Deepak I hear you rap now?’

There was a mischievous look in their eyes and I could tell they wanted to have a good laugh. But I was ready!

I wasn’t really used to talking to any girls in my year; I was nervous about the whole thing and had grown accustomed to being noticed for my awkwardness more than anything else.

Music became a way for me to get recognition, find my place, build self-esteem, start to date girls and many more things as I’d discovered in time.

Right now though – I just launched into ‘spitting’ some drum and base bars – which was effectively 180bpm speed rhyming i.e 2x as fast as garage bars.

The girls were impressed, and I was impressed I’d just done it.

And from there I began to move into my new role as MC Bionic.

My first-ever garage MC name.


As I began to pen more lyrics at home and grew more comfortable in this new role for myself I saw how people began to perceive me changed somewhat.

I was no longer just Deepak, I was ‘did you know Deepak MCs?!’

And so at the grand age of 15 years old, one day after football training at Technicolour FC – the team that Tom and I played for in Southall – I was at Tom’s house and we in his dad’s study upstairs.

It was at that point the infamous lyrics were recorded and my first ‘rap’ was recorded.


We were making use of Tom’s dictaphone.

To make the lyrics work we had to practice a couple of times to adjust the background music, my mc’ing and my distance from the microphone.

And so the lyrics that still live with me today were documented.

‘If you’re feeling warm – then shack up in a dorm – you better leave now or you’ll regret being born’

I’m literally laughing out loud as I type this.

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What an amazing memory you’ve given me the privilege of sharing with you.


And in many ways, this is where my whole music career began and I would go on this journey of within a few years of becoming a fully-fledged musician.

My first poignant moment had come from writing lyrics to the opening of Micheal Jackson’s beat it.

The second moment was recording my ‘dorm’ lyrics.

And this was how I finished my secondary education.

With something that would become a passion, love and profession of mine over the coming years.


And so there I was, a year later – standing around a bunch of serious MCs in 2002 looking up at Rashid.

I was in James/Gully Wun’s house in Hanwell next to his recording decks with 6 guys watching on expectantly as we’d been MC’ing and Rashid had come in and everything about him told me he was trouble.

From his swagger, outrageous self-assuredness and the way, he’d come in and effectively taken over proceedings.

This wasn’t the first time he’d come over, and the last time it’d been a fleeting visit – this time he’d come to actually spit.

The battle rap was about to commence.

Between Rashid and myself!

And it was at this stage I really began to think about how the hell I’d ended up here –

From meeting Javen at Technicolour FC to being invited to come and rap with his group Sykotic Soldiers in Hayes as MC Bionic.

It was at that stage I discovered there were whole new levels to this thing.

I’d turned up to Javen’s place, met his group, rapped with them using the lyric book that had my sprawling works in there, and discovered I was seriously rubbish.

I had NOT been invited back which had depressed me. It sucked to come in and immediately realised ‘I am not at this level’.

It hurt at the time but was the best thing that could have happened to me.

Because this was 2 months before I met Gareth Yap.

It was Gareth Yap who had joined Bishopshalt School Sixth Form from Greenford High School that had got me into this battle rap with Rashid.

Gareth was an MC himself. We’d met, started rhyming, and introduced me to ‘Gully Wun’ – and it was several weeks later when this time it was Gareth who’d not been asked back

We soon met and started rhyming at Gully Wun’s place and building on the learning that I underwent after the Sykotic Soldiers episode – here is where I found myself.


Rashid eyed me up.

He was 6ft 2inches, stocky, had a military-style crew cut, and a demeanour that reflected he lived a life embroiled in drugs and strife (as he’d later end up in prison as I would discover).

And there I stood. 6ft 1inches, with my Brylcreem, spiked up hair, baggy tracksuit and gangly arms sticking through my t-shirt; who came from an environment where I was used to saying ‘if you’re feeling warm them shack up in a dorm’ alongside Tom Perryman.

Looking into Rashid’s eyes; as the beat dropped, I could tell I’d have to look deep within myself to make this work.

And so it began.


Right, that’s all for today guys.

If you want to know more just email me back – and meanwhile catch you in the next letter 🙂