Believe it or not, but the moment you hear the words ‘India’ and ‘rap’ together, the first picture that comes to your mind is of Bollywood rapper Badshah humming the song ‘Abhi Toh party Shuru Huyi Hai‘, isn’t it? Or if you are particularly a Honey Singh fan, you will shake your booty to the famous ‘Lungi Dance’, right?
However, the rap culture in India is much more diverse and flourishing than you think! While these rappers are far away from the shining glitz of Bollywood music industry, there are some of the best-known rappers in India who are making the country tap to their beats. Here is a list of nine supremely talented rappers in India who you must check out if you haven’t already.
1. Pradeep Kashikar (Bhau)
Bhau aka Pradeep Kashikar is a 27-year-old Marathi rapper from Kolhapur, Maharashtra who just released his solo debut Yuva Halla Bol. It is a mix of lyrical intensity, fiery beats, and stick-in-your-head tunes. Bhau was first spotlighted in 2010 on the show India’s Got Talent Season 2, and won over the hearts of not only the judges but the audience also, making it to the finale. His famous song “Bhau Bhau” took a dig at the government, the Indian caste system and also referenced the 26/11 terror attack with the line “Ajmal Kasab Bhurta Kasab,” calling the terrorist a thug.
2. Sofia Ashraf
Born in 1987, Sofia belongs to Chennai. She is a versatile Tamil rapper and singer. Her music primarily focuses towards negligence of industries who fail to clear waste produced in manufacturing products. In 2008, Sofia released “Don’t Work For Dow“, which was released under the guidance of O&M. The song criticized the failure of paying compensation to the victims of 1984 Bhopal Gas disaster. Recently in 2015, she came out with a fresh song “Kodaikanal Won’t“, which was composed on the beat similar to Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda. The music video highlighted the mercury pollution in Kodaikanal done by a thermometer factory owned by Unilever.
3. Brodha V
Vighnesh Shivanand aka Brodha V is an Indian hip-hop artist, lyricist, rapper and music producer who was born in Kanchipuram. The Bangalore-based artist started rapping at the age of 18 and took part in online rap battles on popular social networking platform Orkut. As an independent artist, Brodha V released a mixtape called Deathpunch which garnered him some attention from the hip-hop fraternity and the independent music circuit in South India. Rolling Stone listed him as one of the top Indian rappers in the country and considers him as part of the hip hop’s elite. In 2013, he released his single first single “Aigiri Nandini“.
Not much is known about Pardhaan but the man from Karnal, Haryana is known to be Haryana’s first rapper. The 25-year-old rapper demonstrates some incredible songwriting skills in one of his laid back tracks titled, “Rappers Delight”. He’s worked with the likes of Benny Dayal and the Kakkar sisters, Sonu and Neha. He switches between serious and goofy raps, making him a pleasure to listen to. Pradhaan being one of the best rappers in India and is all about versatility. Popular singer-rapper Bohemia has worked with him in various songs including Gaadi.
While a lot of rappers in India try to make dope music, this quartet from the slums of Dharavi, Mumbai have a sound of their own. Their quick-witted lyrics are sure to catch you off guard at a time when every rap song sounds the same. These wordsmiths have an incredible eye for detail and rap in Hindi, Tamil as well as Marathi. “Come on legalize it, don’t criticize it/ Come on legalize it, don’t criticize it“, is a popular line from one of their rap songs.
One of the most prominent rappers in India is this man from Kurla, Mumbai. You will surely fall in love with Naezy’s verbal waterfall and Urdu rapping that shouts impeccable storytelling skills. You will be amazed at how he paints a vivid picture of the tough locality he grew up in. In other words, his music will please your soul to the very core.
7. Deepa Unnikrishnan
Belonging to the Bollywood capital of the country, Deepa Unnikrishnan or Dee MC raps for a noble cause. She started her career in 2012, now becoming an important part of Mumbai’s underground Hip Hop movement. Deepa’s music speaks about gender inequality, female empowerment and breaking social shackles for women. For Deepa’s hard work and dedication, her song “Talk My Way” was nominated at Radio City 91.1 Freedom Awards in 2015. She is the only female rapper nominated to enter the category.
8. Ishita Kaur
Ishita Kaur represents female desi rapper squad with alias name Ish Kaur. The Delhi-born rapper girl is considered as one of the youngest Indian female rappers in India. She started her career at the age of 13 with an underground Hip Hop group called Gangster Soul. She boasts a long network of fans on social networking sites. Ish Kaur loves to rap about teenage life, but her lyrics are often cited about the male dominant world.
Vivian Fernandes, popularly known by his stage name Divine, is one of the most recognized rappers in India when it comes to the hip-hop and rap culture in the country. This Mumbai-based rapper gained huge popularity for his single ‘Yeh Mera Bombay’. His breakout track ‘Mere Gully Mein‘ was a shout out to the people of the slums of Mumbai, and he’s been on a roll ever since it dropped sometime last year.
10. MC Mawali
A member of Mumbai’s Swadesi crew, MC Mawali is a Marathi rapper. The Swadesi crew is known for its compositions which focus on hoping for a sensitive and gender-equal society. While it is debated that the women are objectified in Yo Yo Honey Singh songs, Mawali talks about respecting women and how all of us have to bring a change in the society with his Marathi solo Laaj Watte Kai.