For decades, hip-hop, graffiti artists and battle rappers in India existed only in the shadows. Singers like Raftaar, Yo yo honey singh, Badshah and Bohemia were never really taken seriously; they were often known as a parody. It wasn’t until the Mumbai-based artists released their breakout single Mere Gully Main featuring Naezy and Divine on 16 April 2015, that hip-hop in India truly took off.
Divine started to gain popularity after the release of his song Yeh Mera Bombay (prior to Mere Gully Mein), however, he made his Bollywood debut in the film Mukkabaaz with the song Paintra in 2017. Soon after that, he contributed in the soundtrack for Badla from Blackmail and Kaam 25 from Sacred Games (TV series by NETFLIX). But Divine’s most notably contributed soundtrack in the movie “Gully Boy” by Zoya Akhtar, a film which is inspired by the lives of Naezy and himself, took Hip-hop to every corner of the country and influenced people to talk about rap, listen rap music, understand and accept hip hop as one of the genre in India.
Hip-Hop is America’s Biggest Genre, however, in India it is still growing. Recently it has been seen, there are hip-hop focused festivals, labels, and parties all over India. This wasn’t a direct result of the film, but Gully Boy certainly helped push a genre that was anticipating a groundbreaking moment. Until the release of the movie “Gully boy” which is based on Hip-hop, Bollywood, did not accept underground rap saying that it’s too raw, but now there are number of rappers who got chance to enter the film industry with this movie.
With Gully Boy, awareness about hip-hop has increased. India has numerous dexterous desi rappers who are ruling the genre, and producing thoughtful, catchy, and brilliant music that is bound to enrich your playlist. Deepa Unnikrishnan aka Dee MC, Bilal Shaikh a.k.a Emiway Bantai, Brodha V, IKKA and many more who’re taking the Indian Hip-Hop world by storm commercially and within the underground tradition as properly.
So now the question arises, is it possible for Hip-hop to continue to reach the people and force them to think differently? Or like Badshah and Yo Yo Honey Singh, other artists of Hip-hop will also get sold and forget their origins and take away by Bollywood’s commercial music demands. We can only talk about it in the coming future.