Q&A: Nikhil Datta

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

A few months ago, Nikhil Datta bested hundreds of other musicians to win Power 107.5’s “Are You Radio Ready?” contest. The victory affirmed what fans already knew: The hip-hop artist of Indian descent was set to make waves.

Known as Khil on stage, Datta has opened for several national acts and will soon drop a mixtape featuring Dead Prez, Freeway, Machine Gun Kelly, Project Pat and Freeway.

From his Downtown studio, Datta shared about passion, performing and perseverance.

The first big show thatmy group and Iopened up for was Clipse. That was really our entrance into the hip-hop community in Columbus. Originally, we were doing shows in the Indian community.

The respect crossover was kind of difficult, but that type of thing doesn’t bother me. There are a lot of Indian artists out there that will say, “People don’t look past my ethnicity.” I’m not really big on that. My thing is that if you have talent — and you’re confident in your talent — people will respect you. That wasn’t the biggest hurdle.

I’m the kind of person who likes to work hard under any circumstances.

The biggest hurdle is the culture we’re brought up on. Our parents sacrificed everything they had to come to this country. The way our parents think is: Do something stable. Become a doctor. Become a lawyer. They just look at us like it’s a joke, it’s a game and that we’re going to be unsuccessful.

The best advice I’ve ever receivedwas from M1 of Dead Prez. He told me not to worry about anything from any outside sources, meaning my family or the criticizers out there. This was the biggest thing he told me: “Focus on your message and run with it.”

My message isperseverance. What I try to talk about is motivating and inspiring yourself above all odds. I’m not going to talk about my hardships and my struggles, and here’s why: There’s people out there who have it way harder than me.

The best moment in my career so far was having my song played on 107.5.

Three things I can’t live without are my music, support from my team and support from my fans. If there was a No. 4, I’d say the haters. I love the hate and the support equally.

Know someone doing cool things around Columbus? Email John Ross at jross@columbusalive.com.

Photo by Will Shilling

Nikhil Datta

Age: 27

Day job: Loan officer, Residential Finance Corporation

Neighborhood: Downtown

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky

Website: facebook.com/khilmusic

Last words

Last thing you ate: Junior Bacon Cheeseburger from Wendy's

Last thing you drank: Water

Last thing you bought: Trip to Miami

Last record you listened to: "Let's Get Free" by Dead Prez