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.
The Southside Revolution
1) Asif Akber a.k.a Ragged Skull
Ragged Skull was an artist who was ahead of his time. He is a legend who was taken away from Indian Hip-Hop well before his time. But the legacy lives on. Ragged was one of the first few international standard artists from India to spit in the booth. The bar he set for emcees is still untouched by many. The contributions are countless when it comes to the voices he inspired and the people he touched with his music. Check the works of the pioneer below:
2) Street Academics
It would not be a stretch to call Street Academics the best Indian Hip-Hop crew. This collective group of emcees, producers, videographers, breakdancers among others have been paving the path of Hip-Hop since the early 2000’s. Each member of the crew has a different style and flow. Their songs range from hardcore grime to horrorcore to the more soulful vibes. They have already collaborated with industry legends and each video of theirs is a work of art. Check them out below.
Smokey is a musical prodigy hailing from Bangalore. He has represented Bangalore every step of the way. One-third of one of the first successful hip-hop crews from the southside – MWA (Machas With Attitude) – Smokey has definitely set a tone for future generations in terms of setting a style. Currently retired, he is working on talent development with Azadi Records. His last EP – “Her Name Is ?” – is so vastly unique not just to himself but the entire soundscape of Desi Hip-Hop that it has to be heard and experienced more than once to understand the depth of the concept tape.
Check some of his works below:
4) MC Bijju
MC Bijju is a Kannada Rap pioneer. His control over his language and flow is masterful, and his skills are adept to a point where he can write intricate Kannada verses with ease. He is part of the All.Ok collective. They have been pushing out both underground and commercial rap to grow their audience. The numbers don’t lie and the flow is real. Check out this Kannada rap prodigy down below.
An old timer in the scene – Gubbi has carved his own niche into the Kannada Rap scene, but don’t get it confused – he is just as good in the English language as well. He is a path-paver, experiencing and building the scene since a long time. Check out this one of a kind rap artist below:
One of the only female rap artists to break out from the southside. A trailblazer with every drop – Siri is a Bangalore femcee who is inspiring a new generation to express themselves. She is shaping up to be more than a femcee, she is an entertainer. Her songs speak volumes and she already has massive collaborations with Divine (Breezer Shuffle) and TVF Girliyapa (VS 42 & Dee MC) to add to the list. Check the tunes below!
7) Low Rhyderz
One of the first crews the country has seen. Featured on Rolling Stone Magazine in 2009. Trend setters. Touring with Lucky Ali. Multiple festival headliners and performances. There is a tone that the 4 members of the crew have set that will not be forgotten for long. Xstasy Sash, Main-E-Yak, King Jassim & Charles Dickenson had paved the way for a lot of emcees from Bangalore. Check the music out below:
Srik, Meswamy & Adhi – These 3 names will be forever etched in the history of Indian Rap. They are pioneers to a culture that bloomed into what it is today. Their early contributions would set a tone for the next generation of emcees to draw inspiration from and learn from. A trilingual group, their reach extends beyond their reputation. Adhi would later form a duo with R. Jeeva named “Hip-Hop Tamizha” and drop a viral hit “Club Le Mabbu Le” that turned heads to a frenzy with their Tamil Rap. They would then move on to directing and producing their own biopic! Listen to these early legends:
9) Madurai Souljour
In 2013, when a handful of underground Hip-Hop acts started gaining more eyes and (by extension) getting eyes into the scene, 3 emcees from Tamil Nadu would decide to form a distinct crew. Hailing from Madurai, they would go on to be one of the most successful acts from their vicinity.
One of the first acts to breakout in the Tamil language. The music Madurai Souljour is a class apart from a big chunk of Indian Rap Music. Check them out below:
10) Mo Boucher & Irish Boi
Hyderabad city representers. One of India’s early rap duos, Thugs Unit would become one of (if not the first) the first emcees putting on for Hyderabad. The flow is still fresh and the songs go hard. India had quality rap in the past and it is because of the efforts of emcees like these. They set a bar for thousands to follow and one-up. The Indian rap soundscape has always produced great emcees, and these two are shining examples of it. Check out their songs below!
Around the same time as Mo Boucher’s come up, another voice from the streets of Hyderabad – Aishan Vali aka XCPT – would start his musical journey, penning down some exceptional verses in his time. XCPT moves in silence and has worked with a lot of emcees and producers from the south. He recently launched his alternative electronica project – Sharam Masala. And this gives a glimpse into the intricacy within his lyricism. Check them out below!