In India, hip-hop is fast emerging as a trend cutting across gender, class and geography, and is making bold statements on youth identity and voices.
In India, hip-hop is fast emerging as a trend cutting across gender, class and geography, and is making bold statements on youth identity and voices. The artists who are mostly from slums and chawls speak in a ‘basha’ that’s unique to the streets. However, unlike the current mainstream, songs they sing are not about the quintessential rap subjects such as clubs, cars and women, but about the real issues that these artists face in their ‘hood’.
101India.com, a youth content portal, had organised an event in the city to showcase the country’s finest underground hip-hop talent. The line-up features upcoming Mumbai-based rappers MC Mawali, MC Tod Fod, Mumbais Finest and Delhi’s Prabh Deep Sagar. Headlining the event are the rappers Divine and Naezy, who recently took the country by storm with the release of their anthemic single Mere Gully Mein.
Aklesh Sutar better known by his moniker MC Mawali was skinny in his school days and was the butt of many jokes. However, instead of hitting back, he chose to sit back at home and write poetry. “I would take my revenge through my poems, which I would write in Hindi,” he recalls. Today he has his own group, named Swadesi. “The guys in my locality are quite talented, but they used to waste their days smoking and drinking. So I approached them and formed my crew — some are graffiti artists while some work on our videos or music and so on,” he says.
“When I got to know that the basic idea of hip-hop is to get back to the roots, I started thinking of our own and that’s when I thought of language as the primary tool. So today we have rappers in our team who sing in Gujarati, Tamil, Bengali and of course in Hindi.” Aklesh himself sings in Marathi. When he first sang the rebellious Laaz Wat Te Kay, his father was afraid that his son might get beaten up by the police.
“My songs are about things that I see around and they are mostly social and political. And we are fortunate to have several languages, which makes it easier to reach out to the masses with the right message,” he says.
Kinga aka Shahir Nawab comes from the Millat Nagar area of Lokhandwala. He thinks that the rap scene in Mumbai has found its audience and finally it’s appeal is growing. “It’s a good sign that we are having a gig where several sponsors have come in, and they are paying the artists good amount of money as well. Otherwise, earlier people thought that we were not worth anything,” he points out.
Kinga, who’s part of the crew Mumbais Finest, confesses that it took him about 200 bad songs to write one good song. “Hip-Hop is all about rebellion. Each of us is trying to push certain boundaries, be it different topics or new music,” he says. Recently, Mumbais Finest won three awards at the Radio City Freedom Awards, which has been a boost to the hip-hop fraternity as well. However, more than fame, it is the idea of freedom that these artists keep closest to their heart. “To make rap music you don’t need expensive instruments, all you need is a bit of space, words and talented people. You don’t need money to make rap, you need to have imagination and grit.”
On April 27, 8.30 pm onwards At antiSocial, Khar