Hip Hop music or rap music is a genre developed by African-Americans in the United States circa 1970’s. The hip-hop culture includes MCing or rapping, DJing, break dancing and graffiti writing. This genre has become immensely popular in India and has lately become mainstream. Indian Hip Hop or Desi hip hop has become a sub-genre of the hip-hop movement. It is basically a combination of hip hop and Indian influences performed by artists of South Asian origins. The term ‘desi hip hop’ was coined by Bohemia, one of the most popular hip hop artists in the industry.
Hip hop has been heard in the country since a long time and few of the earliest performers included Apache Indian and Baba Sehgal who introduced rap to the Indian audiences. Yet rap or hip hop had never been a part of mainstream club music but an underground music genre until now where hip hop has become the rage all over the country.
Rappers from across the country are rapping not only in English but even in their vernacular languages. Borkung ‘BK’ Hrankhawl from Tripura uses rapping as a medium to express himself as an Indian. He raps in English and Hindi as well much to the audience’s surprise. Rapping in one’s native language is more popular than you think and Kannada actor Alok Babu or All.OK as he is popularly known promotes the Kannada culture and language with his rapping in Kannada. The commercial hip-hop numbers by the likes of Badshah, Hard Kaur and Honey Singh are popular courtesy Bollywood but socially conscious songs addressing everything from poverty to gender rights are also gaining momentum thanks to the new age rappers who credit being influenced by the likes of Tupac and Akala.
Hip hop is turning out to be a powerful form of protest music in the country amongst the youth leading to its immense popularity today. The internet has played an important role in the evolution of hip hop as aspiring rappers got more access to the pioneers of the genre and even sharing their work to the world became much easier as audiences warmed up to consuming global music styles thanks to the world wide web. Today one can record music without recording studios simply with online apps and gadgets.
Hip hop is truly multicultural with rappers from all over the country taking the hip hip hop scene by storm. Mumbai based Divine and Naezy are the most popular names in the industry along with Delhi’s Prabh Deep. Khaasi Bloodz from Shillong is a trio of D-Bok, Big Ri and D-Mon who rap in their native Khaasi language. Siliguri has its stars in Buki and Xenon Pheonix. Major C or DJ Chantz has also been phenomenal in taking Desi hip hop international.
It’s not only the young crowd which has become a fan of the hip hop artists, but record labels have also started taking note of the young emerging talent from this genre. Krsna launched his first album last year with Universal Music and Bangalore’s Brodha V was signed by Sony Music. MC Divine was also signed by Sony and was even named by BBC Asian Network as an artist to watch in 2016. DJ Sa was recently chosen Best Hip-Hop DJ at the VH1 Sound Nation Awards and DJ Ishani from Mumbai has a residency at I Bar in the city. DJ Kani from Hyderabad and DJ Kave from Chennai are big names in the international hip hop DJing circuit.
Indian Hip Hop has seen a phenomenal rise and had especially made its mark as serious business in the past two years.