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Haji Springer

The Indian Hyphy Rapper

With a new album out this year and a double LP on the way, Bay Area rapper Haji Springer hopes to find his niche with mainstream success as one of the only successful Indian rappers in the United States. The self-proclaimed 7-11 rapper, who split his youth growing up in San Leandro and at his familyís ice cream shop in San Francisco, mixes a healthy dose of hyphy beats and humor on his Thizz Entertainment release Hello Buddy.

SF Station (SFS): When did you first realize that you wanted to rap?

Haji Springer (HS): I first realized I wanted to rap when rap got into my life when I was about eight years old. It got more serious because a lot of my buddies were rapping around me and it gave me a lot of inspiration.

I had a lot of Bay Area influences. I grew up listening to C Bo, E 40, Mac Dre, JT the Bigga Figga -- a frisco legend. It was a lot of that hardcore Bay Area music.

SFS: When was the Haji Springer persona born?

HS: I found that name about four and a half or five years ago. I got Haji from the show "Jonny Quest", and Springer comes from Jerry Springer. I wanted to make a funky combination with two different types of names from two different places in the world and put them together and run with it as an ill character.

SFS: What were some of your other influences with the character?

HS: I was influenced a lot by Mac Dre and Eminem. They are two of my favorite rap artists in the world. When I started to get more enthusiastic with my flow, everybody was talking about killing people and sending out a negative message. I wanted to put out a positive message and have a little fun with it, and make people smile a bit.

SFS: It seems like there are a lot of similarities between Slim Shady and Haji.

HS: I never tried to do that on purpose. It was just natural. I think me and dude have a lot of similarities. We capitalize on our nationalities and stereotype ourselves. That is what sells, and people want to hear it.

I can feel Eminem because I thought I was in the same boat as him -- he is a white rapper and I am an Indian rapper. There were a couple of white rappers by the time Eminem came out, but I canít name an Indian rapper that has made it big.

SFS: Why arenít there more Indian rappers?

HS: I believe there are, and I hear that all throughout the U.S., there are more and more. New York and Atlanta have a lot of them. There might be another Haji out there, who knows? Iíve had a lot of Indians come up to me and say Iíve inspired them to write beats and rap. They have an Indian dude to stand up for them now.

SFS: Have you got any backlash with the jokes you make about Indian culture?

HS: Iíve heard about some people that donít like me, but if you donít like me donít listen to the music. I donít expect everyone to like me, but I can guarantee that Iíve got more people that like me than people that donít like me. Iím just playing my part and keeping it real. Iím not a fake phoney MC trying to perpetrate something that Iím not. Iím about diverse music with culture and Iím trying to keep the peace in the Bay, and make people laugh.