Indian hip hop

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Indian hip hop is a part of the South Asian hip hop culture termed as Desi hip hop. Desi hip hop is a term for music and culture which combines the influences of hip hop and the Indian subcontinent; the term desi referring to the South Asian diaspora. The term has also come to be used as an alternative for rap music and even pop music which involves rappers of South Asian origins. Creation of the term "desi hip hop" is credited to Bohemia.[1]

Apache Indian, UK artist of Indian origin, was the earliest to make an impact on the UK charts with a series of hits during the nineties.[2] Baba Sehgal introduced Hindi rap in the nineties with albums including Thanda Thanda Pani, Dilruba, Main bhi Madonna, Manjula and Dil Dhadke,[3] his album Thanda Thanda Pani (1992) sold 100,000 copies in three and a half months and brought rap music to the Indian club scene.[4] Following the launch of Bohemia's second album Pesa Nasha Pyar (2006), whose tracks such as "Kali Denali", "Kurti" and "Sahara" became big hits, there was a new-found interest in desi languages during the late 2000s.[5][6] Even though there were several occasional hits during this period, the desi hop scene remained limited largely to the underground, with a very niche loyal audience.[7] Hip-hop culture, including graffiti and b-boying started seeping into the club scene and street culture of big cities like Delhi and Mumbai.[8]

Bohemia introduced rap in Bollywood.[citation needed] He performed the title track for Warner Bros film Chandni Chowk to China, appearing in the film with Akshay Kumar and Deepika Padukone.[9] A few months later he did the title track for another Akshay Kumar film, 8 x 10 Tasveer.[10] In 2011, he gave a song as a present to Akshay Kumar for his first Hollywood production Breakaway.[11] Bohemia also featured in the track with Mika Singh on the film, Desi Boyz's track "Subha Hone Na De".

Besides Bollywood and commercial rap music, the underground hip-hop scene started shaping. Many emerging rappers, crews started to create a buzz in the underground hip-hop scene. In north India groups like "2 ShadeZ", "Desi Beam" etc, while in south Machas With Attitude, Hiphop Tamizha, Street Academics etc pioneered respective vernacular rap music scenes. In Mumbai "Mumbai's Finest", "Bombay Bassment" etc. became popular.

There was increased interest in the rap genre in India after 2011, with a large number of rappers emerging from all corners of the country;[7] this is largely credited to the success of Yo Yo Honey Singh in India and Bollywood, India's Hindi film industry.[12][13] Following huge success of his album International Villager,[14] Singh went on to release several hits songs both in independently and in Bollywood.[15][16] In the wake of success of Honey Singh, a new trend was formed in Bollywood with many producers roping in rap artists for their songs.[12] Even some big Bollywood actors like Ranveer Singh, Akshay Kumar and Varun Dhawan tried their hands at rapping.[17]

Indian hip hop has picked up steam in the suburbs of India's biggest cities creating big names like Divine , Naezy, Akash King & Emiway who have been picked up by talent management agencies like OML[18] who now have music videos with millions of views on YouTube. Down in the south, rappers like Brodha V have kept the flag of the Indian hip hop flying high.

Due to the exposure through Bollywood, rap became a household term and an increased production of rap music was observed, especially in the Punjabi music industry.[19] There is an ongoing debate among the hip-hop community about the contribution of Honey Singh to the genre. While some artists including Badshah,[20] Ikka,[21] Deep Money[22], Manj Musik and Bohemia[23][24] have acknowledged his contribution to the industry, others like Raftaar,[23] and Pakistani artists, and Imran Khan[25] have openly denied it. There is also a negative sentiment among some followers of hip-hop culture in India regarding the recent commercialization of the genre.[1][26][27] Even though many fans are not happy with the recent commercialization of hip-hop in India, this commercialization has also led to expansion of the underground scene, with independent artists building a name in Indian hip hop; because of this, the future of hip-hop in India is generally perceived to be positive.[1][5] There are about 2,000 rappers in India, rapping in different languages like Punjabi, Marathi, Bengali, Hindi, Bhojpuri, Khasi etc.[28]

Tamil hip hop[edit]

Tamil hip hop is still not that popular in Tamil Nadu yet,but it's getting more popular with Tamils living abroad.[citation needed]

Yogi B and Natchatra – Though their music group is consisted of Malaysian, it belongs to the Indian diaspora. Poetic_Ammo was the name for the original group, their latest rap mix for the classic Tamil film song "Madai Thiranthu" is a major hit.[citation needed]

M.I.A – Maya Arulpragasam is getting rave reviews in UK and USA, and probably in other parts of the world.[citation needed] She is a rapper of Sri Lankan and Tamil descent who grew up in UK. Though her music blends variety of types from all over the world, she frequently uses raw-folk-beats from Tamil Nadu/South India, she also raps in Tamil now, and may continue. The song "10 Dollar" from her debut album, Arular, starts with an old Tamil folk lyric.

A. R. Rahman has tried to give a taste of hip hop beats to Tamil movie music now and then. Examples are: "Petta Rap" song from "Gentleman" "Style" song from "Sivaji" "Endrendrum punnaghai" from "Alaipayuthe" has a small rap segment.


Artist Known for Years active
Raxstar "Ego"

"Brand New Swag"


Badshah "DJ Waley Babu"

"Saturday Saturday"


Kapoor & Sons soundtrack

Yo Yo Honey Singh International Villager

Desi Kalakaar

Yaariyan soundtrack

Kick soundtrack

KR$NA "Alag"

"I'm Ready"

Raftaar "Swag Mera Desi"

"Desi Hip Hop" "Baby Marwake Manegi" "Dhakkad"

Fateh Doe Bring It Home 2009–present
Divine "Yeh Mera Bombay"

"Mere Gully Main" "Jungli Sher" "Farak"

Ikka Singh "This Singh is So Stylish"

"Half Window Down" "Sapne" "Shuruwat"

Brodha V "Aathma Rama"

"Indian Flava" "Aigiri Nandini" "Let Em Talk"

Raja Kumari Change Your Life (Iggy Azalea song)

"Never Give Up" "Mute" "The Come Up(EP)"

Naezy "Aafat!"

"Mere Gully Mein"

"Asal Hustle"

"Aafat Waapas"

Emiway Bantai "Aur Bantai"



"MAZAK HAI KYA ? (Prod.Robert Tar)"

"#SADAK - Emiway, Raftar"


"Samajh Me Aaya Kya?"








RAGA "Rap Ka Mausam"

"Mili Rahat"


Groups and duos[edit]

Artist Known for Years active
Street Academics "Chatha Kaakka"

"Native Bapa" "16 Adiyanthiram"

Hiphop Tamizha Hip Hop Tamizhan

Meesaya Murukku International Tamizhan

Machas With Attitude Red + Green = Brown

"Making our Money" "Ready Steady Po"

Kala Kurta Gang The Punjabi Trap

"Mainstream (remix)" "Game Over"

Seedhe Maut 2 Ka Pahada

"Seedhe Maut Anthem" "ClasssikhMaut"

Full Power (Yungsta x Frappe Ash) Showtime

"Sahi Hai" "Khaarij" "Ohh No feat. Seedhe Maut"



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  3. ^ "Baba unplugged".
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  10. ^ manojharisree (3 April 2009). "8 x 10 Tasveer (2009)". IMDb. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  11. ^ "Sansaar [Breakaway 2011]". Bohemia The Punjabi Rapper. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
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  24. ^ Cite error: The named reference bohabuse was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
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  28. ^ "a world of over 2,000 rappers rapping in Hindi, Bhojpuri and Punjabi etc., all confident of making it big, which still means Bollywood, as TV reality shows won't have them, has opened up".