Hip hop and rock get an indigenous makeover with local languages taking over.

Adhi & BBB

“In the 1970s rap was very famous in the West where the oppressed used its lyrical rhythm and beats as a tool to rebel against racism. Now, let's go back a little in time when we had the famous poet Mahakavi Subramanian Bharathiyar,” says Adhi, adding “So we were way ahead of everyone. That why we have his graffiti as logo for Hip Hop Tamizha.”

According to him, “Hip Hop is not just a form of music, it's a culture”. He was in Std X when his interest in hip hop music started developing. He would upload rap songs online and he got some positive response from people expressing their interest to listen to more of his music. And that encouraged him to start rapping in Tamil, also because he was more comfortable with it.

“Viswaroobam Aarambam” was the first Tamil hip hop mixtape to hit the Internet attracting lots of hip hop fans from around the world. It also played a crucial role in promoting hip hop as a part of the Tamil culture. He with his band The Wattabottles have worked many movies too like “Kulir 100” and “Katcheri Aarambam”.

Yogi B, regarded as the godfather of Tamil hip hop, encouraged him and also gave him tips to improve and promote this kind of music in Chennai.

Aadhi along with his friends took every opportunity to promote this kind of music. Every college and school he was asked to be a judge at an event and perform, he would speak about the history and importance of hip hop music. “We want our hip hop music in Tamil Nadu to talk about our culture and good values.”

Adhi also performs along with his close friend Beatboxer Bharadwaj Balaji aka BBB from the band The Wattabottles. He is regarded as India's first Harmonica beatboxer and shares the interest in promoting hip hop like Aadhi.

Everybody who's a part of Hip Hop Tamizha give their best to make an impact in society through music. “Youngsters can always make a huge difference in society by being passionate about it. Passion makes people speak from their heart,” says Aadhi.

On Hip Hop Tamizha: “Initially in 2005 most of hip hop artists used the Internet as the forum to promote their music. On the advice of YOGI-B and looking at the gradual growth of music in Tamil Nadu, I took the initiative to have an online forum called HIP HOP Tamizha with active participation from many artists. Later in 2010, it became a registered organisation uniting all the hip hop artists including beatboxers, MCs , DJs and every single artist interested in this kind of music together under one wing. It's a movement started to promote hip hop culture in the State. We are also working on making it a record label exclusively promoting music artists.

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Moksh

“Music goes beyond the barriers of language!” says Mandar Deshpande of Moksh, a raaga-metal band and the first ever Marathi rock band.

“While we had not planned to become a Marathi rock band, from the beginning our aim was to revive those native art forms, music forms, Sanskrit slokas via rock, so that it reaches a cross-section of the society. It was our way of making listeners aware and appreciative of our rich cultural heritage,” begins Mandar Joshi, the “voice” of Moksh.

“We began as a raaga metal band — another very difficult combination wherein we sought to infuse Indian ragas with Western modern music. However, after we composed our first Marathi rock song Ghe Bharaari, there was no looking back!”

The band received a massive boost for their novel efforts after being crowned as the first Marathi rock band by Radio Mirchi. They were also selected as one of the top 100 acts of the country and featured on “India's Got Talent – Season 3”.

Having performed with stalwarts like Shankar Ehsaan Loy and Agnee, and at events as diverse as various college fests and the Palm Expo, the band has created a niche for itself in three years. Speaking about the experience so far, Mandar says, “We've got a thundering response wherever we've performed so far, irrespective of whether the audience understands Marathi or not. Music cuts across barriers and we've had Gujarati, South Indian audiences singing along with us. Our novel effort of teaming up Marathi words with Western music has hit the right note; people love to see us perform. Experimentation and innovation are the key to keep this tempo; and keeping this in mind, we're continually writing quality songs in Marathi and combining them with carried rock tunes so that Marathi rock gains credence as a genre in itself the world over!”

Line up: Sagar Joshi, Mandar Deshpande, Jimmy Alexander, Shreyas Joshi and Pushkar Kulkarni

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Roll Rida and Megh-uh-Watt

An engineer and a college dropout get together to pursue their passion for music and fulfil their dreams in the music industry. Rahul and Meghraj have rapped in Telugu (Naa Saahityam) for the Independence Day Special programme for TV9 and also for Tollywood movies like “Bejawada Rowdilu” and the soon-to-release “Sasesham”.

For Rahul aka Roll Rida, all this started with repetitive requests from seniors in college for his version of a Linkin Park song. With the popularity of the song catching up among peers, his passion for music was given a filip. For his partner in sync, Meghraj aka Megh-uh-Watt, the journey started as a DJ which later developed into a collaboration with friends to form the band DNOAX. A video of the band's song was aired on VH1 and that has been the beginning of a new journey.

Says Rahul, “My parents come from a very different background and even though they do not understand what I am rapping about, they always supported me and been proud that their son is doing something creative in his life.”

When asked who their inspiration is, Meghraj named a number of international artists like Eminem, Jay Z, The Roots and Mos Def who have changed the face of hip hop and rap in the world. Rahul on the other hand narrated a very interesting story: “In junior college, I didn't know what an MP3 player was. One day, I saw a friend with this tiny box in his hand and with headphones connected to it. That is when I knew what an MP3 player was and the first song I heard on it was In Da Club by 50 cent. That day, as soon as I reached home, I downloaded the song and listened to it repeatedly. I think that is how it the rapping bug got into my head.” His stage name Roll Rida rhymes with the American artist Flo Rida's; he confesses to being his fan.

They believe in following rap artists who through their songs pass on a message and not just rap about unethical issues. “Music is a great means of communication and an excellent way to pass on a message. We believe in using this to our and the society's advantage,” says Rahul.

They feel lucky to have faced no language barriers by rapping in Telugu. As far as the Telugu music industry is concerned, they feel that Rap music is still in its nascent stage but they hope that Telugu rap will be accepted more in the near future. Their motto is to not forget their roots and keep it simple. Their recent win for inclusion in a compilation by Universal Music has only raised their hopes further and they will strive their best to be more creative and make a mark. They won a competition — artistshungama.com — and their song is going into a compilation by Universal Music

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MWA (Machas With Attitude)

“We are a rap/hip hop/trip hop trio from Bangalore / Chennai who gotogether in the year 2008 to form MWA.. Down South we call our friends as Macha and adding a little bit attitude to it we became “Machas With Attitude”. Our music is flavoured by a blend of emotions, aggressiveness and a dash of humour.

MWA takes influences from our various backgrounds. Though our songs are primarily in English, they also feature lyrics in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. Each of us has different influences ranging from KRS One to Big L. A.R. Rahman being one of our biggest inspiration. We always bring in the Indian element into our songs.

We have all been rapping for the last eight years and Chennai has definitely become one of the Hip Hop hubs. The number of new rappers mushrooming is enormous. There is a lot of Tamil and English Hip Hop happening in the city. I should also credit all the music directors for knowingly or unknowingly introducing hip hop into every household. Our first album was also on Chennai, titled “Namma Chennai”. We are releasing another album by mid 2012 and we shall definitely have a tribute to this fantastic city.”

MWA's film world rendezvous began with Oh Eesa (Club Mix) for the film “Aayirathil Oruvan” and also made their Bollywood debut with Dheaon Dheaon from “Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge”.

Line up: Bigg Nikk (Nikhil Padmanabh), Smokey (Sumukh Mysore) and Brodha (Vighnesh Shivanand).