In the few days leading up to the release of Bollywoods take on Desi Hip-Hop – we would like to present some of the artists who have been grinding and putting out music from different parts of the country. This editorial comprises of a long list of artists divided by 5 sectors – North, North East, West, East, & South. The purpose of these articles are self explanatory – India has a grand number of voices with substance and quality. The movie focuses on Bombay Rap as a whole – but realistically it is the efforts and talents of the Pan-Indian Hip-Hop community that has made the genre stand out as much as it has.
The artists presented in this series are chosen solely based on their merits and their acts to push the culture forward along with their skills as emcees. If you do not find your favorite artist on any of these lists, please tag them in the comments section so we can keep updating these lists. These lists are in no way in any ascending or descending order – just a collection of artists that have been representing the culture since its inception. To the extent of being geographically correct, we have chosen artists based on their particular geographical location.
Welcome To The North
Artists in the North have been subject to an “Over-Bollywoodization” ( if we can call it that) of Hip-Hop since its early beginnings. The Punjabi music industry especially has been thriving since the early days of Indian Hip-Hop and once Hip-Hop was fused into the mix, the North basically gave us the now well known “commercial” sound of Bolly Rap.
But this was the old, now as we enter the new generation of Hip-Hop – the North has already produced talents of superstar caliber. Here are a few artists that we think deserve not just meagre recognition – but also demand respect for the work they have put in.
1) Sikander Kahlon –
Sikander Kahlon has been in the game for 12 years and running. Signed to Manj Muzik, already has a collaboration with legendary emcee Fat Joe. Sikander and KKG rep the north to the fullest. It isnt a reach when he proclaims himself the King In The North. Being one of the most consistent artists in the scene, he has made a name for himself through blood sweat and tears. Listen below.
2) Prabh Deep –
Torch bearer of Azadi Records. Dropped an essential Desi Hip-Hop album last year. One of the sickest Punjabi freestyle artists. Multiple brand endorsements. Multiple festivals played. Prabh puts in 100 percent into each of his endeavours. His rise to fame isnt unnatural, it is authentic and he remains true to the core of Hip-Hop. Follow the movement.
3) Sun J
There are a few emcees worthy of being called Microphone Killers. Sun J would be at the top-tier of that list. His style is not just fast paced, but he has learnt and applied the art of flow in the most spectacular fashion. His songs stick to the old-school Hip-Hop format. His voice is also something that sets him apart from the crowd. Though it is very husky and rash, he has learnt to used that to his advantage and spit some of the finest verses in the scene. His energy on stage is unmatched as well – a true emcee in essence.
4) Seedhe Maut –
The most distinct dynamic duo India has ever produced. Self hustle, self made and true to self. Their music doesnt just speak volumes, it outraps a generation of Indian rap artists that lack direction. This duo is one not to be missed. Check them out below and follow:
5) Kru 172 –
Speaking of dynamic duo’s – KRU172 are the OG rap binary crew in India. Their style is vivid, and they have been repping the scene since its early beginnings. Their success roars throughout the world. They have already produced an entire theme song for WWE Superstar Jinder Mahal. The two twins have been making extraordinary music for a long while. Repping Chandigarh to the fullest, check them out below.
6) Raga –
Raga is a Desi Hip-Hop success story like no other. Representing Jamnapaar – he has built a core fan following and audience all by himself. His rap style is now so well known that an entire generation of emcees have tried to emulate it. He is the originator of his style and it speaks for itself. His record label Artisttaan recently signed a favourable deal with Sony Music India. Listen below.
7) Yungsta –
The OG for Delhi Hip-Hop – Yungsta is a name well known in the North. He has solely uplifted a close to negligent scene, planting the seeds of knowledge to grow to what they are today. Released multiple successful mixtapes and albums, performed at various venues and festivals. He has been active in the scene since the early days of Indian Hip-Hop – carving a niche for himself and his peers. Do not miss this amazing talent.
8) Frappe Ash –
Frappe Ash, the other half of binary crew “Full Power” (with Yungsta) is also an OG in the game. He has released a line of projects but now is working towards his apex. With a string of accomplishments already under his belt, he is on a mission to finally bring to life his solo album. These are the voices that go unchecked in the clutter of the industry. Check his music out and subscribe for some great tunes headed your way.
9) Pardhaan –
Pardhaan is one of the voices in the grey area between the underground and commercial. They say music is a reflection of self, and his music definitely give the listener insight of his life, world views and perspectives. He’s one of the few Desi artists not just to get a cosign from Bohemia, but to collaborate with him too. His skillset and message is inspiring to a massive audience. He is also one of the few artists who fuse Indian traditions with Hip-Hop music to create something unique and grand.
10) Kartikaya (Formerly Keepsake) –
A hidden gem in the crowd. A diamond in the rough. A musical talent disastrously underrated. His first few projects with Sez were hits, and then he turned producer too. After a long stream of absence – he is back, now under his original name Kartikaya. He released a glimpse of what he’s working on just a couple weeks ago. We await further music from Delhi such as this. One of the original Hindi rappers. KARTIKAYA.
11) Delhi Sultanate –
The triple OG’s in the game. They arent just musicians or artists, they are activists in the very essence of the word. Hip-Hop has always been political, and Delhi Sultanate represent the revolution. They are big cogs in the wheel of change in India and an inspiration to musicians everywhere. Taru Dalmia has built his own sound system – The BFR System – which they set up during their performances. The sound is unique and Begum X & Taru have created a soundscape for themselves like very few artists ever will. Fusing reggae and hip-hop among other vastly varied genres – they are high on the list of top tier socially conscious Hip-Hop in India.
12) 2Shadez –
In a time where Hip-Hop music in India was just budding, when Asli Hip Hop to the masses meant the wave of commercial Bollywood rap, two kids from Delhi city were rapping bar for bar, dropping videos, albums and performing at every event they could. History never forgets the pioneers of a rap scene and both these individuals have given their blood sweat and tears to improve the scene and plant the seeds of knowledge. Check out their latest and some of the old music videos. Real recognize real.