These idealistic considerations still trump issues such as marketability. “Maybe we could earn a bit more if our lyrics were in English or Russian. But we are doing rap for fun, not for money,” says DRO. To make ends meet, practically all rappers work on other projects. Apart from modelling, DRO also produces films and runs a skate shop. Makhaidze has worked as an interior designer, animation artist and entrepreneur in mobility and fashion. His partner at Kayakata, Zurab Jishkariani, is an award-winning writer who runs a chatbot company. Others, like Hikari, run popular bars or cafes in Tbilisi.
For Makhaidze, these activities are no less important than hip-hop, and he does not want to be reduced to just a rapper. “Labels are a thing of the past. I just do different stuff and learn in the process of making,” he says. In his view, the Tbilisi underground scene is a tribe of hyper-creatives for whom rap is the latest chapter in an ever-expanding universe of music, art, fashion, food, literature, skating and animation.
It is an approach which seems to capture the spirit of Gen Z, primed to seize their own opportunities. Among them, more and more start to rap and shoot their own music videos. “If everyone wanted to be a DJ a few years ago, we are now entering a moment when everybody wants to be an MC,” says DRO.