Rap music and the hip-hop scene in India is booming and everyday we see new rappers coming up with lyrical masterpieces to describe their life, struggles, and the face of the society from their own perspective. Be it a gully, or a club, rappers have the right words to express what they think of the environment. Rapping has become so prominent in touching the reality of the society that it now also deals with concepts like poverty, corruption, lifestyle of those who live in the not so privileged parts of the society, etc. KR$NA’s song ‘Vijay’ is a good example of how rap as an art is working on spreading an emotional awareness regarding the problems of the society. Considering rap has grown bigger, here we are, looking at the biggest new-gen rappers who are making it big in the scene today.
A gully boy, hailing from the streets, or as he would like to state, the gullies of Sahar, Andheri East, Vivian Fernandes is an Indian rapper who goes by the stage name Divine. A student of the St. John the Evangelist High School, Marol, and later a student of R.D. National College, Divine was interested in hip-hop from his childhood.
He discovered hip-hop when he first saw an image of 50-Cent on a friend’s t-shirt. Later, when that friend gave him a CD, he played it on his grandmother’s CD player and immediately got attracted to the music and the beats. Divine in his childhood only, shifted from his dad’s place to his maternal grandmother’s place. This was because his dad was an alcoholic and because of the financial problems in the family, his mother had to go abroad and work. However, after a certain phase of friction with his dad, he and his elder brother decided to leave the place. His elder brother too went abroad and Divine was left with his grandmother. His adolescent years were spent around vices such as alcohol and drugs. This was because he had no supervision and the whole hip-hop vibe was taken quite literally. Things started to progress when he got a microphone and started recording songs. Thereafter, he decided to use his mic for a better purpose. He started to realise that hip-hop is not about drugs and alcohol and gangs. He realised he could achieve a purpose with music. After this realisation struck him, Divine started to rap about the gullies, the problems of the poor, the difficulties he has faced. His one aim was to bring his mother back from abroad, and take care of her.
Initially, Divine enrolled himself with Mumbai’s Finest, a rap group he was one of the founding members of. He started building momentum as a rapper, and soon switched to Hindi, so that people could relate with his songs.
He came out with commercially average hits such as Ye Mera Bombay and Voice of the Streets. Orkut at that time was hosting Rap battles. There, Divine met Sez, who later gave him the beat for ‘Mere Gully Mein’. Divine also discovered Naezy at that time, who, parallelly was rapping about the same things as Divine, and whose raps were motivated by the Bombay vibe as well.
Sez was about to discard the beat for ‘Mere Gully Mein’ when Divine came up with a flow for the beat. He also contacted Naezy regarding it and within 2 hours, Naezy gave him his part of the verse as well. ‘Mere Gully Mein’ was released and blasted the ceiling off. Every Mumbaikar was listening to the two rappers rapping about the happy vibe of the Gully. Divine had the attention of artists like Vishal Dadlani, Nucleya, Ranveer Singh, and many others. He was invited to clubs for performances and the song became a massive hit. It, for the first time, introduced the usage of slangs in songs, which is what made the people relate so much. During the performance of ‘Mere Gully Mein’ in a club, Divine was discovered by an official of Sony Music, and Sony bought the rights for the song as well as signed Divine. Brodha V was at that time the first Indian rapper to be signed by a label. However, unlike him, Divine made it big with the label. This was because, Brodha V, despite being a very talented artist, probably the most talented in all of the list, faced limitations when it came to speaking in Hindi, due to which the most of the North Indians could not get what he was saying. Brodha V used to rap in English, but most who listened to Hip-Hop did not prefer listening to English rap.
Coming back to Divine, he made it big with some hits such as ‘Jungli Sher’, ‘Jungle Raja’ (with Nucleya), ‘Farak’, ‘City Slums’ (ft. Raja Kumari). Thereafter, he was signed by a lot of brands such as Puma, Netflix (with which he released ‘Kaam 25’), Breezer, etc.
In this date, Divine has entered the mainstream Indian Music Industry and runs his own music production house, named Gully Gang Entertainment, wherein he finds other artists and signs them to the label. Divine is certainly the biggest rap artist in North India, who has paved way for the hip-hop scene to enter the gullies of India.
This to be medical student turned rapper, coming from Antop Hill, Mumbai, is one of the wackest rappers the Indian hip-hop scene has witnessed. An underground dog, Emiway was introduced to hip-hop when he first heard the song ‘Not Afraid’. Thereafter, he became an Eminem fan and started rapping as he heard the songs. Emiway came out with a number of songs on his YouTube channel, which featured his group Dopeadelicz as well. However, Emiway, who initially believed that hip-hop could only be an English thing, was advised by his father to write song in Hindi so that people could relate. Now, Emiway has a massive fan following on his Instagram account, and an enormous 150 million views on his n umber 1 hit, ‘Machayenge’. While most his raps are filled with the Mumbai accent, Emiway also like to rap in English and his songs ‘Jump Kar’ and ‘Freeverse’ feature verses penned down in English.
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Emiway was discovered by Raftaar, and has on several occasions collaborated with DNH Gang, a group of rappers belonging to the Delhi-NCR region, who work under Raftaar and fellow producer Ankit Khanna. One of Emiway’s famous collabs with DNH is ‘Mumbai Se Delhi Tak’, which features KR$NA from DNH. Emiway gained initial success with hits like ‘# Sadak’, ‘Kadak Ban’, etc. After his initial hits, Emiway won the “People’s Choice Award” for the best rapper in the underground scene.
Recently Emiway was in a beef with Raftaar and both of them spewed fire at each other with their songs. Emiway came out with a diss track named ‘Samajh Mei Aya Kya’ after he was offended by Raftaar’s comment on him in a interview, which many believe was misinterpreted, and thereafter Raftaar came out with ‘Sheikh Chilli’, which was a diss at Emiway and the song featured Emiway’s real name, Shahrukh Sheikh. After a series of hits from both sides, the beef ended, making Emiway the gossip of the town. Thereafter, Emiway started his own studio named ‘Bantai Productions’. Currently, Emiway is making it big in the rap industry.
Brodha V is a south Indian rapper, hailing from Bangalore. He raps in his native language or English, due to which he was never able to spark momentum in North India. However, Brodha V is actually one of the founding members of hip-hop music in India, and is considered a musical as well as lyrical genius by many. His style is quite unique, as he mixes Indian Classical music with the hip-hop beats. Brodha V was initially a part of ‘Machas With Attitude’, an Indian boy-band the name of which was inspired by the famous American music group ‘Niggas With Attitude’. He released various hits on his YouTube channel and became the talk of the town. However, many labels denied him a commercial shot as they believed that his music did not cater to the audience’s demands. It was quite the belief at that time, because even the hip-hop scene in India had not grown that much.
However, we can still gauge how Brodha V is indeed one of the earliest person to promote rap music in India by the fact that he, throughout India, was the first rapper ever, to be signed by a label, which was Sony music. He released a big hit named ‘Round Round’ featuring Benny Dayal under the label. Other than that his famous songs include ‘Aathma Raama’, ‘Maari Kannu’, ‘Aigiri Nandini’ etc. All of these songs are either in Hindi or Kannada. He released ‘Aigiri Nandini’ under Sony as well.
His recent hits include ‘Way Too Easy’ and ‘Let em talk’, both of which are in English and feature excellent music and genius lyrics. Brodha V is also entering the mainstream music industry by learning Hindi, and was signed to Zee, under which he came up with a big hit featuring Raftaar – ‘Naachne Ka Shaunk’. He also released a track to promote Alexa, the voice assistant made by Amazon, named ‘Naam Le Mera’. Currently, Brodha V is working on new songs and will soon be seen in collaboration with DNH gang on some major tracks.
DNH Gang is a group of rappers hailing from the Delhi-NCR region, with the exception of Karma, who is from Dehradun. The gang includes KR$NA, Karma, Harjas, Kidshot, and music producer Deep Kalsi.
Krishna Kaul, better known by his stage name KR$NA is a rapper hailing from Delhi. As a music professional, he was very much involved in rapping and was ata a very early stage signed by one of the biggest names in the music industry – Universal. KR$NA released the album ‘Sellout’ with Universal. Before that he went by the name Young Prozpekt and released several tracks, displaying his unstoppable flow and strong lyrical content. As Prozpekt, he released ‘Vijay’ which recieved a good response. However, Prozpekt was not able to gain as much momentum as Krishna expected. He therefore, took a break from the rap scene, and then made a comeback as KR$NA. After his album “Sellout”, of which the songs ‘Sellout’ and ‘Last Night’ became popular, KR$NA started to rap in Hindi. Then, he got invited to DNH Gang and has been continuing with the group ever since. He released initial solo hits such as ‘Dekh Kaun Aaya Wapas’, and ‘Alag’. He released a hit with Raftaar named ‘Im Ready’. Ever since, KR$NA has been signed to AK Projektz, a label half-owned by Raftaar and half by producer Ankit Khanna. In his duration with AK, KR$NA has released several tracks such as ‘Meri Baari’, ‘Solo’ , ‘Warm Up’, ‘Jaanta Kyun’.
He released I’m Ready feat. Raftaar under Zee Music Company, and the song became a hit. KR$NA has recently released the track ‘Freeverse Feast’, which is a diss at Emiway. Even more recently KR$NA again released ‘Seedha Makeover’ attempting another diss at Emiway.
Having been raised in the streets of Dehradun, Vivek Arora, a.k.a. Karma has developed a penchant for strong lyrical content and good musical beats. Having started with AK Projektz, Karma has released a number of tracks such as ‘Take Diss’, ‘Karma Sutra’, ‘Warm Up’, ‘1 se 23’. Karma got fame and built momentum with his song ‘Rap Karte Hain’, which was produced by music producer Deep Kalsi.
Karma initially started rapping under the pseudonym VIVEK, stylised with an inverted E. He also made a song for Terribly Tiny Tales, named ‘We Wake Up’. Karma recently released ‘Mai Wahi Hoon’ feat. Raftaar under Zee Music Company, in which he recounts funny anecdotes from his school days. Now, Karma is an up and coming rapper who will eventually gain mainstream fame.
Kunal Pandagle, also known as the one whose work is the heaviest, i.e. Kaam Bhaari, is a rapper hailing from the streets of Kandivali who rolls with Divine. Kaam Bhaari is a 20 year old whose journey of rap started with a struggle. After the accident of his father, in which his father lost his leg, Kaam Bhaari started rapping as a hobby, but at an early age realised that a business could be made out of it. After his initial rap successes, Kaam Bhaari was signed to InkInc, a label owned by Ranveer Singh, under which he released ‘Zeher’. Kunal, before InkInc was making momentum as a rapper in the verse of Don’t Hold Back 2.0 by JACK & JONES. Recently, Kaam Bhaari released ‘Shuru Karein Kya’ from the movie Article 15. As a rapper, Kaam Bhaari is yet to make as much mainstream momentum as other rappers. However, the noise he is making at this age is sure to reach greater crowds in the coming years.
Rap as a culture, despite being primarily Western, is shaping itself in accordance with the Indian society as well. It is growing and developing and will in no time be a part of mainstream music. There are various rappers who can light the microphones up with their verbal content, and we hope they gain fame soon.
With this, we conclude our list of New-Gen rappers who are making it big, both in terms of finance, and outreach.