Hip-Hop is one of the most exciting and fastest-growing music cultures. It all started with the “Back To School Jam” hosted by DJ Kool Herc on August 11, 1973, in Bronx, New York, the U.S.A. Since then, many rappers and DJs have made a name for themselves in the world of Hip-Hop.
The trend of Hip-Hop spread rapidly throughout the world and reached India. Nowadays, Hip-Hop is very popular in India. The youngsters simply love it. However, not everybody knows how all of it started in our country.
Let me take you on a ride from the first Indian rapper to the state of rap in India.
In 1990, Hip-Hop was introduced in India by Punjabi rapper Baba Sehgal (Harjeet Singh Sehgal). Baba Sehgal started the trend of Hip-Hop and rap with hit songs like “Thanda Thanda Paani” (sampled Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby”, which in turn sampled Queens’s “Under Pressure”), and “Dil Dhadke”.
In the early 2000s, a non-Indian man provided Indian Hip-Hop with the spark it so badly needed. Bohemia (Roger David), a Pakistani American rapper living in California, along with a Hip-Hop producer Sha One (Seth Agress), released his debut album “Vich Pardesan De”.
Bohemia rose to prominence after he released his first full-length Punjabi rap album “Pesa Nasha Pyar”, which became a sensational hit in India.
Influenced by Bohemia’s popularly, a group of five individuals, Yo Yo Honey Singh, Lil Golu, Badshah, Raftaar, and Ikka, together known as “Mafia Mundeer”, came crashing into the Punjabi rap scene. The group produced many hit Punjabi rap songs throughout their career. After some time, two more artists Alfaaz and J Star joined the group.
Unfortunately, the glory of this group was short-lived. Soon, several members of the group parted ways in order to work independently.
Then, in the early 2010s, Punjabi rappers tasted a lot of success as they swiftly rose to fame and started making songs for Bollywood. At the peak of his career, Yo Yo Honey Singh was being paid ₹70 lakh for one song.
Raftaar and Badshah have also been making their presence felt in Bollywood. The song “DJ Waale Babu” became quite a rage back in 2015.
Everyone knows that Hip-Hop is an art form which was born in the streets of Bronx, New York. It was revolutionized by the likes of Jay-Z and Nas. Inspired by these legends, Naved Shaikh (Naezy) a young boy, emerged from the streets of Mumbai. Naezy dropped his first track “Aafat!” on YouTube with a raw music video in January 2014. The track went viral because of Naezy’s versatility, impressive skills, constructive storytelling.
For the first time after Bohemia, Indians got a taste of real hip-hop. Finally, there was some real competition for rappers like Yo Yo Honey Singh and Badshah. That’s when Yo Yo Honey Singh dropped his studio album “Desi Kalakaar” (August of 2014). The album did well, but didn’t get as much attention as his previous works.
Another young rapper from the streets of Mumbai started making his presence felt with his awesome rapping skills. Vivian Fernandes, better known by his stage name Divine, started gaining popularity with his hit single “Yeh Mera Bombay” that he released on his YouTube channel in 2013.
Divine became so popular that he got signed as an artist by Sony Music Entertainment. In 2015, Divine and Naezy collaborated for a song called “Mere Gully Mein”. The music video for that song starring Divine and Naezy was uploaded on Sony Music Entertainment’s YouTube channel. The days of asli Hip-Hop were just getting started.
Director Zoya Akhtar listened to Naezy’s song “Aafat!” and Divine’s song “Mere Gully Mein” feat. Naezy. She was very impressed and wanted to portray the stories of both these young rappers. She approached Naezy and Divine and pitched the idea of making a Bollywood movie based on the lives of Naezy and Divine. Both of them agreed.
The movie was released by the name “Gully Boy” starring Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt on 14 February 2019. The movie was a box office hit with 8.4/10 IMDb rating and an astonishing 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie was loved by everyone who saw it and the cast even involved other talented underground rappers from Mumbai like Emiway Bantai (Sharukh Shaikh) and Kaambhari (Kunal Pandagale).
The movie was a milestone for Indian Hip-Hop and is a must watch!
The success of “Gully Boy” proved to be beneficial for all the young underground rappers who possess exceptional talent and skills, each of them hustling to become one of the best rappers in India.
The underground rappers from Mumbai have gained a considerable amount of exposure after the release of “Gully Boy” and are looking forward towards the growth of the culture in India.
According to me, hip-hop will keep growing in India as new young and talented rappers will keep getting exposure. The future of Indian Hip-Hop is as bright as the sun for the artists as well as the fans.