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 West Coast
The Western coastline has always been quick to adapt to different cultures and especially music. For ages it has been the hub of entertainment, and this has further pushed the west forward in terms of quality content time and again. It hosts the biggest shows, festivals and media bases in the country, and now it is known as the home to India’s finest Hip-Hop artists.
A pioneer in every sense of the word. A first generation emcee from Bombay. Kav-E has upheld the culture of Hip-Hop in a time where it was considered taboo. There was a negligible amount of good Hip-Hop music being made, and Kav-E stayed a flash of inspiration. While a lot many emcees honed their skills in Rap battle forums online, Kav-E was busy scribbling in his notebook joining line after line to create works of art. This was after rigorous trial and error, and a sense of creating music unlike any other prominent sounds. This is one of the reasons why Kav-E still has that distinct sound. He has found a sound for himself, by himself. We await more music from him soon!
Bob Omulo aka Bobkat (of Bombay Bassment) is a steady force in the Bombay rap scene. One of the few bands from India to perform at Glastonbury, Bombay Bassment fuses reggae, funk, Drum N Bass and Hip-Hop elements to create a fresh new sound. At the center of it is the Emcee – Bobkat. He is also a DJ and has been pushing the culture forward for over a decade. He has hosted many great moments in the history of Indian Hip-Hop culture and we are sure he will host many more! Checkout the legend below:
3) Trap Poju
12 year veteran. Only artist to successfully complete Indian Hip-Hop’s first ever crowdfunding campaign with the release of his music video for “Bhaari Scene”. He has been in the game for a long while. Formerly known as Poetik Justis, this is an emcee to watch out for. He has spearheaded many movements across Indian Hip-Hop. There is always a fresh sound when it comes to his flow and delivery. Along with the intensity in his rap style, the lyrics are kept 100% real. Proficient in both English and Hindi languages, he is currently working on his next body of work “KALA PANI” to be released later this year. Apart from that, Trap Poju is a lethal freestyler as well. Check the sounds below!
Bombay’s very own. One of the most revered and respected emcees anywhere he goes. 12 years in the game, Enkore is here to stay. There is a level of class that only he delivers when he spits on a beat. He was also one of the first few emcees to rap on a commercial Bollywood project from Mumbai. One of the few emcees to have performed (and headlined) at various milestone events of Bombay Rap Culture. There is no doubt that Enkore is a true emcee. Artistic creativity and piercing lyricism aside, he has a sound that is unique to his own. His latest album “Bombay Soul” is out now! Check the sounds below:
Microphon3 was an early blessing to the Bombay Hip-Hop scene, and by extension to the Indian music scene. The emcee of the band, Tanmay Bahulekar is a first generation emcee who expanded his reach beyond rap music. 4 kids from the city had a vision for Hip-Hop music to stand out. Tanmay Bahulekar (Emcee), Michael Lee (Guitar), Devanshu Sampat (Drums), and Melroy Coelho (Bass) – They would spark a fire deep into the roots of Indian Hip-Hop. 6 years ago, when there was an almost non existent rap scene in Mumbai, the band was making waves in the rock/metal scene that had taken over the city. The band has now moved on to alternative rock/metal sounds under the name “Chabuk” (except for the addition of Roop Thomas on Bass replacing Melroy).
6) That Dude AJ
Hailing from Pune, one of the early GOATs in terms of lyrical ability – That Dude AJ (Ajay Ghone) is an emcee to be feared. In Insignia Orkut, there used to be an entire thread dedicated to his battle bars. He has made a name for himself on an undefeated streak at B3 India. He is now set for the finals at the next “B3 India – Art Of War 3”. Fate will decide if he becomes the “Grandmaster” at B3 India – meaning India’s best battle emcee. He has cultivated a habit of skilled writing since the early days, and he is a glaring example for a number of emcees hailing from Pune to look up to. The ideals he has instilled on to the next generation are evident in terms of the quality of lyricism popping up from his city. Dropping classic battle after classic battle – many emcees have fallen prey to TDA bars. We await what he does at the next B3 India event this year!
Speaking of battle bars – do not get in the battle ring with this emcee as your opponent. An absolute beast on stage, as well as a maestro of bars – EMF is an emcee to be respected and feared at the same time. He is a complete emcee, a great freestyler, a great battle emcee and recently, a great musician. These are the makings of what differentiates a rapper and an emcee. He has multiple albums and EP’s incoming and is about to face That Dude AJ for the title of “Grandmaster” at the next B3 India. Check out the sounds of the true underground below:
A true diamond in the dirt. The unphased, undisturbed, undiscovered gem of Indian rap is hidden in plain sight. X-Centrik is an emcee with grit and passion. One of the best lyricists both on the battle stage as well as in the booth that the country has seen yet. This is an emcee with a unique pen-game. He is working on his upcoming debut mixtape apart from preparing for his next opponent at B3 India. X has the direction needed to create unique experiences with his penmanship and bar style. He has delivered multiple classic battle verses already at almost all of his previous battles. Check out this emcee below and share the music!
9) Nasty Ninja
A bboy with flair, a good graffiti writer, a capoeira expert, a distinct music producer and ofcourse a great emcee. Nasty Ninja (or just Ninja) is a walking example of Hip-Hop all day. He was uplifting the hip-hop scene through different elements of the culture. He is responsible for the inevitable success of breaking crew – Beast Mode Crew. The accolades that this emcee has brought with him speaks for itself. This is an emcee who has earned his stripes every step of the way.
10) MC Kaur
MC Kaur is one of the first female emcees the scene has seen. She has been a hip-hop purist since the start and carried on tradition well within her music. The femcee has her own unique sound in the scope of Indian rap and is carving new ways to do things on her albums. This is an emcee who keeps true to her artform to this day and is relentless in her pursuits. Check out the sounds below:
One of the emcees who has remained underground for long but has supported the Mumbai rap scene through and through all his life. Adro is a name that is often overlooked in the vastness of the scene. Last year, he made a comeback dropping a fire mixtape named “Kuch Bhi” with one of his successful hits – “Sabse Bhaari” becoming one of the highlights of the tape. Check it out here – https://soundcloud.com/aadhish-evidence/sets/kuch-bhi
12) Sahir The Magician
Formerly known as Diefferent and known as Kinga Rhymes before that – the emcee has dawned many names and made a vast selection of sounds throughout his career. There are a lot of emcees who can rap, there are few who can make great music. Sahir is definitely one of the few emcees who has evolved from basic rap structures to now producing, mixing and mastering his own songs as well as doing it commercially for others in the community. The efforts that it takes to create different sounds as well as different type of music is something that you will find Sahir taking tremendously. This is an emcee that never settles for less.
Tienas aka Bobby Boucher
If you’re looking for a completely alternative and fresh outlook in the Bombay rap scene, look no further than Tienas. This is an emcee who hones his craft on the daily. Only a handful of good emcees rap in the english language nowadays and Tienas is on a mission to solidify his place among the top tier doing just that. His is a sound that fuses hardcore poetry, multi-syllabic rhymeschemes and expert metaphors. This is one emcee you’ll be glad to have on your playlist. Check the sounds below: