Indian Hip Hop: How has the transition been in desi rapping?

Desi and underground rapping

Indian Hip Hop has been quite a story. The phases that we have seen in desi rapping are like nothing else. We have seen artists come and go. Some of them shine like a true diamond and book their names in the history of hip hop. While some of them have not been able to create their name despite an abundance of talent. The truth of Indian hip hop lies in some of the facts which I am about to state. It has been a several ups as well as a several downs in the rapping industry here in our country. Let's go through the transition in desi rapping!

   Little to no attention 

Once upon a time there wasn't a term like rapping in India. The music here was proportional to the movies that were produced on regular basis. If you heard any song on your radio, it belonged to Bollywood cinema where majority was dominated by the romantic songs. Baba Sehgal is often regarded as the pioneer of Indian rapping. But was he a household name? Was he able to make a name for himself quite like the Kumar Sanus of the industry? The attention was not really paid despite production of some really quality songs back in early 90s. We got to hear some stuff in the music direction of legendary AR Rahman himself but they were never helmed a "rap". These attempts were regarded as normal songs only but the change was bound to occur. It was always on the cards! 


        Rise of talents 

Honey Singh & Bohemia were first few popular names

Rapping was not an intimidating term until mid 2000's when it started to become a thing after a wait of a long time. It was finally regarded as a genre in India. The emergence of underground rapping groups like "Desi Beam", "2 ShadeZ" made rapping a thing. There were several southern rappers too like HipHop Tamizha and groups like Machas with Attitude. The struggle was real for each one of them as it took a while to get recognized and be paid gratitude. The rappers belonging to these groups did their bits and should be acknowledged for sure but the real deals that changed the industry forever have to be Yo Yo Honey Singh & Bohemia. They were the first two rappers to get the popular appeal all across the nation. They did it all on their own to become massive figures especially in the North.

Recognition amidst controversies

Rise and fall of Mafia Mundeer

Let's be honest, you might diss Mafia Mundeer for the fact that they produced a few really awful tracks but the credits need to be given where it is due. They were the first group to make it big and go on to become huge names. Once they released a few controversial songs, they went on to make some really good tracks which blew the roof off for the rapping industry in general in terms of popularity. Yo yo honey Singh was benefited the most from the group as he went to make music in Bollywood as well, he was the first to be called up by Hindi industry and he did not disappoint there. Early 2010s belonged completely to him. The rappers like Ikka, Golu went on to make a decent name too. Raftaar & Badshah went all against Honey Singh as the band split and they happen to be the most talked about rappers right now. But in the process, underground rapping and rappers in Mumbai were not really getting regarded and it was a matter of concern.

Gully Boy 

Gully Boy starring Alia Bhatt and Ranveer Singh popularized rapping in India

Zoya Akhtar decided to go a bit off her tracks as a director and make a film regarding rappers, underground rappers which specifically included the artists from gullies of India. From the announcement of the film till the release and the outstanding reception the film received, Indian hip hop was the biggest talk of the town. This was also the time when Emiway Bantai & Raftaar diss happened which increased the hype circulating the film. The film was based around the life of Naezy & Divine who themselves went on to gain enormous fame from it. Most of the rappers finally got the attention of the people. This film was criticized severely for being sent to Oscars as there was a massive outrage. But you can certainly not deny the fact that the Indian hip hop scene changed completely after the film and the actual essence of it was finally understood! 

The current scene

Emiway Bantai, Naezy, Divine, Kr$na, Muhfaad have become really famous too

These are happy days for rap artists as they have finally been able to feed themselves right. 5 years back most of the people who wanted to persist with rapping failed to do so since they could not earn much from it. Thanks to how much YouTube has been used by people right now, there are so many artists that come to your mind. Emiway Bantai made his name solely from YouTube and that's fascinating for sure. Naezy and Divine are much known too thanks to Gully Boy. Rappers like Kr$na, Muhfaad, Karma, Broddha V, MC Stan, Harjas have made a steer for themselves and there are so many others who have gotten their bits of fame too. The commercial elements coupled with great bars, rhymes and metaphors have become common which is a happy news to all the fans of rap industry. 

So where does it all go now? What's next in Indian Hip Hop that we need to see? There is not much that we can say right now but the talents who deserve appreciation should be brought to limelight. Rappers often lead up to become inspirational figures, case in point, Eminem. Is there an Eminem in Desi rapping too? We don't know yet but we may surely get to know since all these amazing artists are ready to shine once the lockdown comes to an end! 

Do you listen to desi hip hop? Who is your favourite artist? Let me know in the comments below! 

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