The Rise Of The Rap Culture In India

by Amit Kumar on Feb 09, 2023

The Rise Of The Rap Culture In India

“Identity is a prison you can never escape, but the way to redeem your past is not to run from it, but to try to understand it, and use it as a foundation to grow.” – Jay Z

Hip-Hop is a fast-growing music culture that is exciting for the young as well the old. Hip-Hop has recently become very popular in India even though it was introduced years ago. The youngsters absolutely love it and relate to it. From streaming services to music labels to brands, they all believe that hip-hop is becoming the hottest independent music genre in India, and is going to get bigger. There are about 2,000 rappers in India, who rap in different languages like Odia, Punjabi, Marathi, Bengali, Hindi, Bhojpuri, Khasi etc.

Hip-Hop was introduced in India in 1990 by the Punjabi rapper Baba Sehgal (Harjeet Singh Sehgal). He started the trend of Hip-Hop and rap with hit songs like “Thanda Thanda Paani”, and “Dil Dhadke”. Following that, in the early 2000s, Bohemia (Roger David), a Pakistani American rapper living in California sparked up the Indian Hip-Hop scenario. Bohemia, along with a Hip-Hop producer Sha One (Seth Agress), released his debut album “Vich Pardesan De”. He gained rapid popularity after he released his first full-length Punjabi rap album “Pesa Nasha Pyar”, which was a sensational hit in India.

Influenced by Bohemia’s popularly, artists like Yo Yo Honey Singh, Lil Golu, Badshah, Raftaar, and Ikka, together known as “Mafia Mundeer”, came crashing into the Punjabi rap scene. They produced a number of hit Punjabi rap songs throughout their careers. Following them, two more artists Alfaaz and J Star joined the rap industry. Further, in the early 2010s, Punjabi rappers tasted a lot of success as they became famous and started making songs for movies in Bollywood. A lot of collaborations between the rappers and Bollywood music artists were highly appreciated by the audience.

Hip-Hop is known as an art form which was born in the streets of Bronx, New York. It was revolutionized by artists like Jay-Z, Eminem and Nas. Inspired by these legendary artists a young boy, Naved Shaikh (Naezy), emerged from the streets of Mumbai. In January 2014, he dropped his first song “Aafat!” on YouTube with a raw music video. The track went viral because of his extreme versatility, impressive rapping skills, constructive storytelling. Soon enough, another young rapper from the streets of Mumbai, Vivian Fernandes started making his presence felt with his amazing rapping skills. Vivian, who is better known by his stage name Divine, started gaining popularity with his hit single “Yeh Mera Bombay” that was released on his YouTube channel in 2013. What truly changed the face of the rap culture in India was the movie based on the enigmatic lives of these two talented boys, called Gully Boy which was directed by the exceptional Zoya Akhtar. The movie was a milestone for Indian Hip-Hop.

The movie was loved and appreciated by everyone who saw it. The cast involved other talented underground rappers from Mumbai like Emiway Bantai (Sharukh Shaikh) and Kaambhari (Kunal Pandagale). The movie inspired many talented rappers to get out there and release their craft. Today, rap is an acknowledged genre that is heard and appreciated by the young and old alike. It has become a genre of music that is relatable, inspirational and motivating as the lyrics tell stories and experiences.

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