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Cartel Madras: A new wave of rap is hitting the streets of Calgary.

Cartel Madras, comprised of Priya and Bhagya Ramesh – known by stage names Contra and Eboshi, respectively – have taken Calgary by storm.

Formed in January of this year, the band has embarked on shows in, and out of Alberta, and have performed and opened for acts such as Lou Phelps and Cupcakke.

Calgary rap duo Cartel Madras. (Photo by Asim Overstands (@asim_overstands)).

The two sisters, originally from Chennai, India, a city formerly known as Madras, garner influences from a number of people from their culture.

Their sound, also known as “goonda rap”, which translates to thug rap, is a cross between trap and house, which comes from their own backgrounds and roots.

Cartel Madras fills into the spaces of three communities, women, people of colour and LGBTQ+. 

“We’re rapping not just to them, but about them, because their stories are our stories, and it’s conversation.”

Cartel Madras perform because the people within these communities have “stories [that] need to be told in an engaging and compelling [way].”

Despite filling in these spaces, Bhagya said the greater audience that has been receiving them is “everyone.”

When the sisters started writing rap, they experimented with genres such as “conscious rap” and “R&B rap” before discovering their true sound.

“Our early recordings are very much that.”

They discovered they wanted to make music they liked and listened to, said Eboshi.

“We want to repossess that sound in a way people can see it from our perspective, and hear it from our perspective.”

Cartel Madras are not just two brown girls rapping.

Calgary rap duo Cartel Madras. (Photo by Asim Overstands (@asim_overstands)).

“Our worries coming into it would be that people would be like, ‘oh their shtick is these are two brown girls rapping.’

“If we did rely on a shtick, we would be pressed to have as much luck right now.”

The group have already performed more than 30 shows this year.

On Oct. 17, the duo performed at the National Music Centre for their showcase.

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