India's popular rappers talk about their journey on Vh1 Listen

Rappers Dee MC, D-Evil, MC Altaf and Shah Rule share their thoughts on the growing rap culture in India, Gully Boy impact and the concept of Vh1 Listen.

India's popular rappers talk about their journey on Vh1 Listen

Rapping has been an important of the music culture in India. While it has been seen in several movies and singles over the years, the popularity began after Zoya Akhtar and her team showcased the talent of some rappers, through storytelling, in her accalimed film 'Gully Boy.'

Over a year back, Vh1 India launched a new property called ‘Vh1 Listen’ which brings fans closer to their favorite artists. The artists perform live on the Facebook page of Vh1 India post which they answer questions asked by their fans. With an aim to give the artists their due respect and the right platform, the team at Vh1 listen curated a special edition called “Vh1 Listen - Vh1 Hip Hop Hustle: Swadesi special” with some rappers like Dee MC, D-Evil, MC Altaf, and Shah Rule who are popular in the music scene today. They performed for their fans between January 26, 2020, and January 31, 2020.

In an interaction with Mumbai Live, these rappers shared their thoughts on the music scene today, how the film shaped the genre in India and the concept by Vh1 India. Here are the excerpts...

Did Gully Boy change the perspective of Hip-hop in India?

Dee MC: Undoubtedly. Bollywood’s involvement has always been a sort of validation for any art form in India. The industry is so vast and powerful that whatever they get involved with is bound to change the people’s perspective. Movies are still the biggest mode of entertainment for the common man and ‘Gully Boy’ opened a lot of people’s eyes about hip hop existing all around them. As far as changing the perspective of it, that credit should go to the artists whose lives inspired the film to begin with. We have all stuck to what we felt is authentic, which makes the process of changing people’s perspective towards hip hop an ongoing one. 

D-Evil: Not at all. There were a lot of flaws in the film with relation to the hip-hop culture. Sometimes the film was close to misrepresentation of the culture. Hip-hop is a vast culture. One movie is not enough. Artist and their art will change the perspective of Hiphop to India. It's the artist's job not , a movie director's.

MC Altaf: It did change a bit but there is a long way to go in the culture of Indian hip hop. It has shown a life of a rapper but not the process of making music. Although I am confident that hip hop will be in minds of people over a period.

Shah Rule: It’s definitely shed light on the scene on a national level. In my eyes, Bollywood has successfully co-signed the scene and for someone like Ranveer Singh to spearhead a project like Gully Boy, which may have flaws in the eyes of purists, it will hundred percent open doors for aspiring artists. The sound has now been introduced to the masses but it’s on the artists now to make most of this spotlight. Hip-Hop music has always been an umbrella of sub genres, and India will soon discover that there is more than just Gully Rap.

How has the film shaped your career for you in music?

Dee MC: Before 2016-2017, only a handful of rappers could have called what they were doing as a career in hip hop music. Since 2017 things have looked up and up for hip hop artists and Gully Boy most definitely acted as a catalyst to this in 2019. In terms of shaping your career, no single feature in a film or song can guarantee you anything. At the end of the day you are responsible for shaping your own life. It’s a cutthroat era of content making which is no different than the jungle rule of survival of the fittest. In the end it’s the artist’s individuality that decides how capable they are of shaping their lives.

D-Evil: My scenes were deleted from the film. And we're later released on the productions YouTube channel. So it definitely didn't do much for my career. Only a few relatives called me to say they spotted me on the background of the movie. My career is shaped by the songs I have released.

Shah Rule: I wouldn’t saying it shaped my career but definitely did boost my demand as a live performing artist but it was just another steppingstone. Truly a blessing to be a part of such an incredible film. It was a very valuable networking experience and a great piece of Indian Hip-Hop history to be a part of.

What are your thoughts about performing for Vh1 Listen

Dee MC: It’s safe to say that almost every Indian hip hop head has grown up watching Vh1 Hip Hop Hustle for our weekly dose of hip hop music videos. To have the music we’re making live on the same channel feels like full circle. Really excited to perform at Vh1 Listen along with Gully Gang.

 D-Evil: I was a young when I used to watch Vh1 hip-hop hustle, just so that I could watch my favorite rappers closely. The ones I idolised (Eminem, 2pac) now I hope it does the same to my fans

MC Altaf: It’s my first time and I am very excited about my association with Vh1      

Shah Rule: Super excited to reach the Vh1 Listen audience in both a live performance and engaging live interview. I’ll be performing both singles and collabs with my gully gang label mates D’Evil and MC Altaf. From the solo tracks I’ll be performing my two biggest tracks, Lakhs and Kaun Hai Tu. I expect it should be a lot of fun to engage with the Vh1’s Indian Hip-Hop fan base.

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