Are You ‘Desi Hip Hop’ If You Rap In English…?

There has been a forever on-going debate about various Desi rappers who rap in English and how they have to strive harder to get the ‘Desi‘ label patched on them. We have all heard that “music has no language“, but whoever made that statement clearly never visited India. Our country is an intense but exotic mix of various regional cultures and it is this diversity which has lead to kaleidoscopic languages. Fun fact : There are more than 20 dialects of just Hindi, so you can imagine the number of languages prevalent in our country, please feel free to do the math.


The rate of success which Desi Hip Hop has seen in the past 2 years is humongous and there is no doubt that a lot of it had to do with vernacular rap. I could not be more proud of the fact that vernacular rap is being accepted with so much enthusiasm and warmth and has helped in increasing the awareness and acceptance of our craft.

Most of the rappers who made it big once rapped in English, but in order to connect with the crowd even further, they switched to Indian languages such as Hindi, Punjabi, Kannada etc. This lead to a rich and organic following of people who enjoy Desi rap and in this crowd lies a certain chunk of people who have now formed a bias that if a brown guy raps in English he cannot be considered Desi, probably because it is difficult for them to understand the language, i don’t now…

It is this notion that I have an enigma with. India now claims to be the world’s second-largest English-speaking country with an estimate of around 10% of its population or 125 million people, second only to the US and expected to quadruple in the next decade.


There are people in the south who have trouble understanding Hindi and Punjabi so if we apply the same analogy here, a Punjabi rapper might not be ‘Desi’ for a person from the South or A Kannada rapper might not be ‘Desi‘ for a listener from the North, but such stigmas do not exist, then why does an English rapper have to listen to things like ‘Tu Desi nahin hai’, or ‘English main kya pattar pattar kar rahey ho?‘.

I am more than confident in saying that India has a few English rappers that will give a lot of American Hip-Hop acts a run for their money. One such talented English rapper is Smokey The Ghost and this is what this O.G from Bangalore wanted to say about the situation of English rappers not being considered ‘Desi‘.


Heard of Gasolina by Daddy Yankee? What about ,”Gangnam Style” by PSY and a million other songs you listen to only because they are so good. If you are not good, you don’t sell. All the “English rapper won’t sell” is an excuse by phoney wack rappers with no skill. Don’t impose your inabilities on other people.”

To conclude, I am not going to say that I correctly defended the title of this article (BUT I KNOW I DID A DAMN GOOD JOB), I will just request the fraction of the majority who have developed such an opinion to be a little more open-minded, that’s all.