It is safe to say that Hip Hop is here to stay, the growth of Hip Hop has been phenomenal in terms of its creativity and reach. Hip Hop has grown from a new form of alt-music to a more mainstream pop culture.
There is no doubt about the sudden boom in the Hip Hop scene of India. Young Rappers popping up in every corner of the country trying to outshine each other, but is the community doing enough to educate and groom these individuals in order to sustain this evolving industry and be better equipped to handle pressure and spot light when the day comes? Only time will tell.
The Indian Hip Hop scene is at its peak at the moment and won’t slow down for the foreseeable future. The audience is getting smarter and the quality of music is just getting better. A string of new age Rappers have come through and serious music is being produced. Artists are aware of the social responsibility they must shoulder. The commercial value of Hip Hop is at an all-time high and has given birth to a new market ‘Desi Hip Hop’. Sounds great right? So, what comes next? And is the community ready to bring about a new dynamic to this existing situation?
“I don’t believe any industry can accommodate all the artists despite there being increase in it’s membership. That being said, what it does enable is the evolution of the art with more and more artists experimenting and their experiments being used by others in the present and future to develop unique trends across the industry. For example the triplet flow and mumble rap now prevalent in modern rap originated with Bone Thugs and Harmony and Three 6 mafia. Point being, more artists or members does not translate to more listeners for all of them. But it does translate to more innovations and niches which become mainstream over time while most don’t and overall, there are now more pockets of listeners consuming eclectic music” – Raghu Vamshi, Co-Founder of Nrtya & Composer/Rapper/Sound Designer insight on Hip Hop as a community reaching out to young Rappers.
If you compare Desi Hip Hop to Engineering Colleges in India you are bound to find many similarities. Everyone wants to jump onto the bandwagon, but once you are in it you realize that there is not enough space to accommodate everyone, let alone girls. So are the girls just smart enough to not get into it or they are not marketed well that no one has heard them or there aren’t many opportunities left for them in this space. It is not right that we have to google “Female rappers in India” just to find out they exist! Why can’t we think beyond NRI Mainstream Female Rappers, and why isn’t the Hip Hop community doing anything about it? All these questions are just piling up.
In order to bring about this change, we need to address that there is a problem in the first place. The BBC ASIA Network is doing more for Indian Artists than any other Indian Media Company. (Check this cool video from BBC ASIA NETWORK Booby Friction Show:
After speaking to various Artists/Rappers/Producers and people related to the Hip Hop community, the general consensus was that the communal feeling of togetherness is still missing, there are many gaps to be filled, a lot of bridges to be drawn to create more opportunities for everyone.
“As an artist looking outside, I would imagine the next step is to have an infrastructure to grow hip-hop even further. Managers, booking agents, independent labels, blogs, etc.” – Ankur Johar aka Enkore
Instead of just making YouTube videos with all these young rappers, they need to be put under pressure tests to see if they can strive through it. One possible way is to host well organized Rap Battle events which might do wonders in metropolitan cities and get the best out of the whole lot. Battle Bars Bombay (B3) are doing a good job at this moment, but need more like-minded people to come on board and enhance it on a larger scale.
” A well organized Rap Battle Event could work in a city like Mumbai. However, it must be noted that gangsta rap and street rap are one part of hip hop culture and not ideally suited to all the demographics in India, primarily due to the fact that we are not having gang wars nor gun control issues nor rampant drug epidemics in our societies. I believe a Def Jam Poetry kind of an avenue along with rap battles in separate sections as part of the same hip hop event would be an ideal fit. Along with impetus given to B-Boying, graffiti and turntablism as well.” – Raghu Vamshi
As the way the Indian Hip Hop scene is progressing, it won’t stay ‘Desi’ for long. Underground artists need exposure now more than ever, and the experienced lot should start mentoring the young guns.
“It’s great that people are beginning to take rap more seriously as a form of art, but it’s also slightly imbalanced in the sense that only one style of rap/hip-hop is being popularized by the marketers for their benefits, because they look at it as a form of entertainment, but take it out of the culture of hip-hop as a whole, which is born out of it.” – Enkore
Also, it is vital to bridge the musical gap between Mainstream Hip Hop music and Underground music so that quality music always gets the limelight. Instead of creating marketing “Beefs” to draw audience, artists are getting better at marketing and have started pushing themselves.