Homegrown hip hop

With the hip hop scene mushrooming around the country, a monthly gig series aims to promote upcoming talent

Updated - April 27, 2016 08:17 am IST

Published - April 27, 2016 12:00 am IST

Star cast:The line-up will include upcoming rappers such as MC Mawali, MC ToD FoD,Delhi’s Prabh Deep Music and Mumbais Finest, and fan favourites Naezy and Divine.

Star cast:The line-up will include upcoming rappers such as MC Mawali, MC ToD FoD,Delhi’s Prabh Deep Music and Mumbais Finest, and fan favourites Naezy and Divine.

Back in college, this writer naively assumed that the ‘underground’ scene everyone referred to was replete with graffiti-covered tunnels, gang wars and young boys in soaked tank-tops battling it out for street cred. Well, maybe the latter bit isn’t too far from the truth.

However, the fact of the matter was that underground hip hop never really had a chance to enter the Indian mainstream.

It’s only recently that the once-underground hip hop artistes started getting the attention of the nation. Rappers Naezy and Divine shot to fame after their single ‘ Meri Gully Mein ’ became an overnight YouTube success and they were signed by major labels and management companies. The fact that hip hop had an audience and became commercially viable was more apparent and soon the artistes were performing at popular clubs and music festivals.

101 India, a Mumbai-based youth content portal, found what these rappers had to say and this rising scene fascinating. “Protest songs don’t exist in the mainstream,” says Cyrus Oshidar, founder of 101 India.

“We were reading up about how these kids are producing an incredible amount of music that no one has heard of and a large underground scene was showing up all over India.” Spurred by the unnoticed potential of the hip hop scene in India, 101 India started the production of the ongoing documentary web series Hip Hop Homeland.

It documents the music of several emerging artistes from different areas in India, starting with Mumbai and Kashmir. Each rapper lets us in about the reality of the lives they live. Kashmiri rappers like MC Kash talk about living with state-sponsored gun violence while rappers from Mumbai like Naezy aren’t hesitant to talk about the snowballing police brutality in the city. Hip Hop Homeland gives us snippets into the lives of these musicians and the struggle and catharsis of hip hop. While some episodes are profiles of these rappers, others deal with elements of hip hop such as beatboxing, BMX biking, B-boys and B-girls.

To take the series on ground, 101 India is launching an eponymous gig series to give upcoming artistes a platform to showcase their talent. The overwhelming stress on the origins of the rappers ‘from slums and chawls’, reeks of patronisation. Nevertheless, the first gig is packing heavy, with a line-up that features upcoming rappers MC Mawali, MC ToD FoD, Delhi’s Prabh Deep Music, who will be performing in Mumbai for the first time, and Mumbais Finest. Mumbai-based rappers and fan favourites Naezy and Divine will be headlining the event.

“It’s the first time we’ve all come together for one gig so I’m very excited,” says Naezy, who’s been hinting at performing unreleased and upcoming songs from his next album. “We’ve been wanting to do this for ages but this is the first opportunity we’ve had to do it.” The hip hop scene has gotten the showcase it deserves; let’s hope that people are paying attention.

The Hip Hop Homeland gig will take place at AntiSocial, Khar at 8.30 pm. Entry is free but limited.

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