Ramgarh-based rapper Tre Ess is also a producer and sound engineer who's earning his musical stripes by combining hip-hop with multiple genres.
He belongs to the family that inspired Anurag Kashyap's Gangs of Wasseypur. But Sumit Singh Solanki, who comes from Ramgarh, Jharkhand, infamous for its notorious gangs and mafias, is making a mark in a completely new field. As Tre Ess, he is one of the most exciting hip-hop artists and producers that India has seen in recent times.
In 2016, Sumit released his debut album, All Before Dawn. Fighting the odds of growing up in a family that never understood art, the release of the album was extremely special to him. Recently, he signed up with Mumbai-based label Nrtya, the only label in India to release independent artists from Tier II and III cities.
Sumit goes by the name Tre Ess on stage, according to a post by theoriginal. Like artists such as Mos Def, Linkin Park, Vince Staples, Earl Sweatshirt, Tame Impala, and Hiatus Kaiyote, Sumit is a self-taught musician. He learnt music by watching YouTube tutorials at home and in internet cafes in his neighborhood; he eventually practiced songwriting and editing.
Growing up in Jharkhand, Sumit has memories of dealing with Naxalites and has witnessed shootings and lynchings. Speaking about his family and the film connection, he has said:
“My extended family was the inspiration behind Gangs of Wasseypur – they were involved with the coal mafia and ran labour unions.”
For Sumit, the key takeaway from his music editing and learning process was the freedom to develop a sonic identity. The identity contains characteristics of lo-fi (a form of sound reproduction), alternative hip-hop, and trap music. His work comprises the alternative hip-hop genre that upcoming Indian artists are exploring and incorporating with folk and classical samples. Sumit is also learning to rap.
Sumit's work has attracted music publications such as Wild City and Rolling Stone India where he was featured with celebrated rappers Gravity and Tienas.
In an interview with the Vice about his tour and concerts, he said,
“I have received a lot of love in unexpected places. In Varanasi, there was this German girl who saw us perform and then went back and started spreading my music there. The Manali show was my favourite–I got to meet a lot of artists, thanks to The Burlap People, and genuinely had one of the best shows of my life. We performed for free but, after the set, the owner came and gave us a fee because he couldn’t believe how good we were.”