Voices Anirban Ganguly Anand Neelakantan Ravi Shankar Gautam Chintamani Amar Bhushan Mata Amritanandamayi MAGAZINE Buffet People Wellness Books Food Art & Culture Entertainment NEW DELHI October 11 2020 SUNDAY PAGES 12 Armed with a vocabulary that goes straight to the heart of its fan base, hiphop in India is a multi-lingual, multidimensional phenomenon that is acquiring critical mass by the hour By Sam Lal The India Sc ene There is a school of thought which stands steadfast in the belief that India predated the most widely accepted date of the birth of hip-hop by a decade. Documented history tells us that the rap movement began in 1979 when New Jersey trio Sugarhill Gang released their chartbusting single, ‘Rapper’s Delight’. But some folks at home would have us believe that it was actually ‘Dada Moni’ Ashok Kumar, getting all breathless on the track, ‘Rail Gaadi’, from the 1968 movie, Ashirwaad, which birthed rap. Be that as it may, here are some milestones that shaped hip-hop in India into the burgeoning phenomenon it is today. 1991: Apache Indian stirs up the vibe with ‘Arranged Marriage’ 1992: Baba Sehgal releases ‘Thanda Thanda Paani’. It becomes a huge sensation. the of ise R 2002: Bohemia brings it into the new millennium with ‘Vich Pardesan De’ at Be et tre S 2008: Mafia Mundeer, which featured Yo Yo Honey Singh and Badshah, gains prominence Dopeadelicz T he Indian counterculture milieu is in the middle of a metamorphosis. A perennially fertile landscape, the Indian underground has always been a hive of activity that has spawned everything from rock bands and heavy metal juggernauts to DJs and electronic artists that have made beaches and nightclubs come alive with the sound of music. This vibrant vista is now booming with a beat that is insistent and clearly intent on imprinting itself on the collective consciousness of an entire generation of music lovers. It is a rhythmic statement of intent born out of a sense of belief that brooks no argument. Strident, clawing at the boundaries of mainstream recognition, Indian hip-hop is poised on the brink of a massive breakthrough and it has all the potential to be bigger than anything which has preceded it so far. Music, like all art, needs an emotional connection with a section of the community to thrive. This is where hip-hop in India has the biggest advantage because its core comprises an identity that is proudly Indian. There have been innumerable iconic moments in underground and independent music in the country over the years but there does not seem to be any musical movement that has quite the grassroots appeal which this avatar of hip-hop seems to be enjoying. Rap music is not new to the country It arrived at our . shores in the early nineties bearing a fun, good times lyrical agenda. The grimy underbelly of urban existence which typifies most rap music was decidedly missing. The transformation of that aspect of rap borders on the unbelievable these days. Hip-hop is Bonz N Ribz hugely personal right now and it reflects in the immense diversification of the genre in the country A cursory look at . the rap landscape in India throws up sub-genres such as Odisha rap, Jat rap, hip-hop from the Northeast, Marwari, Marathi, Kannada, Tamil and so many more. Rappers are throwing down their rhymes in rapid fire Hindi as well and it is almost like this is the medium of expression that has unprecedented resonance with artists. Making a Name Fazilpuria has found great success in the Indian film industry . His hits include ‘Chull’ and ‘Pallo Latke’ but the pride he takes in his Haryanvi rhymes is evident. “There is a lot of difference between Haryanvi rap and Punjabi rap,” he says. “My intention is to put my language and my state on the map through my music. That is the reason I chose Fazilpuria as my stage name. I belong to Fazilpur and so I call myself Fazilpuria.” Apropos of nothing, ‘Bhai’ is the standard Indian hip-hop greeting and exclamation. Nearly every statement either begins or ends with this sibling-y shout-out. It might be an appropriation of the archetypal ‘bro’ but that is probably the only parallel with other hip-hop styles across the world. The Indian rap narrative is a genre unto itself in terms of the factors that fuel it and the issues it addresses. Take Rapper Dule Rocker, for instance. A migrant worker from Odisha’s Kalahandi district, Dule, whose real name is Duleshwar Tandi, has emerged as one of the biggest voices for migrant workers, many of whom were forced to walk back home following the Covid-19 lockdown. The humility with which Dule talks about his journey as a hip-hop artist is in stark contrast to the intensity of his rhymes in songs like ‘Me Hun Aam Aadmi’ and ‘Sun Sarkaar Sat Katha’. Music director Vishal Dadlani described him as ‘fire’ in one of his tweets and the scorching intensity of Dule’s words bear testimony to the fact. Rapper Dule Rocker is a voice from a muddy hut in a village called Borda. The impact it has, however, resounds across the nation and may soon be global. All this without access to any recording studio, production techniques or other accoutrements that any artist anywhere in the world would take for granted. “I have been through a lot of hard times,” he says. “But I have never left hip-hop. I have an old laptop and I make my beats on it.” He then records it on his mobile phone and uploads it on YouTube and other social media platforms. The world stops and listens. Fuel to Fire There are three key factors fuelling the hip-hop phenomenon and individuality is perhaps the greatest of them all. The intensely personal nature of the music allows every artist to tell their own story complete, ly unfettered by genre trappings. “Hip-hop is modern poetry says Borkung Hrang,” khwal. “It becomes very personal. Unless you feel it, you cannot write it.” The rapper from Tripura gained recognition with his song, ‘Chini Haa’, which translates as ‘Our Land’. People really got behind the track and it became something of an anthem. Hrangkhwal also talks about Turn to page 2 Indian hip-hop is poised on the brink of a massive breakthrough and it has all the potential to be bigger than anything which has preceded it so far 2011: Honey Singh releases his solo album, International Villager 2012: Badshah breaks out with ‘Saturday Saturday’ 2013: Raftaar, also a member of Mafia Mundeer, releases Witness The Future in 2013 2013: DIVINE releases ‘Yeh Mera Bombay’ 2014: Naezy launches his debut single, ‘Aafat’ 2019: Zoya Akhtar makes Gully Boy. The film sweeps 13 Filmfare awards. 2019: Universal Music Group India signs up with iconic hip-hop label Mass Appeal to launch Mass Appeal India
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