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Voice of Tha People Recap The Best Of December

As the clock winds down on 2014, hip hop shows no sign of slowing down with artists working harder than ever to beat the buzzer

Bob Omulo Dec 31, 2014
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Feyago. Photo by Pranab Doley

Feyago. Photo by Pranab Doley

December kicked off with a lot of hoopla over the Radio City Freedom Awards, one of the highest honors to recognize local hip hop artists in India. What marked this year’s award ceremony for Indian rap however was the double win by Mumbai’s Divine. The ‘Yeh Mera Bombay’ rapper won in both the popular vote and the Jury Selection categories, thus becoming the first hip hop artist to ever achieve that feat. Most industry watchers will agree with that decision given the amount of effort Divine put in throughout the year, releasing singles and videos representing his hood to the fullest.

Also in Mumbai, B-Boying collective Underdog Kombat Crew staged their annual Jam “The Culture” in a new setting: a mall. The venue turned out to be the blessing it looked like on paper, as many of the uninitiated were drawn to the spectacle, making it one of the biggest jams ever witnessed in the city. Although tinged with the sombre memories of  the recently deceased b-boy, Keith Dias (a UDK founding member), the crew brought the Indian pioneer breaker’s memories alive, making the event a celebration of his fruitful life rather than a sad reminder of his absence.

Up north, rappers were not dissuaded by a Mumbai spitter taking all the accolades at the Radio City Freedom Awards, and Delhi emcees dropped their hard-hitting Delhi Cypher, complete with a polished video. All the artists on the cut – Ghost Status, Knuckle Dusta, Panini, Rawal, DM & MC Heam showed us they earned their spots by unleashing what seemed like an unending ammo of raw bars.

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Watch “DLCYPR1947” by Delhi Cypher:

The seemingly ubiquitous producer Sez was another hitmaker this year. Sez also happens to be the man responsible for Divine’s award winning “Yeh Mera Bombay” and the “Bombay Rap Cypher” and is now a household name in Indian hip hop, having worked with almost everybody in the scene.

Chandigarh rapper Rob C dropped his new album Peerless, which also broke new boundaries for the artist, releasing a project for the first time in Punjabi. Having cut his teeth in the game as a respectable English emcee, it was a great risk switching tongues, not knowing how his fan base would react. Rob C sounds self-assured and pulled off  his Punjabi rap successfully. Delhi’s Keepsake also dropped a new EP titled Budhhiheen 2. We particularly enjoyed “Behter,” track no. 1, featuring the talented Dee MC’s serene vocals on the chorus. The track is our current favorite and we’ve been jamming to it since the EP dropped.

Further down south, blowing up like a sensation is the ‘Realest Tamil Living’ aka Indian 777. The unapologetically hardcore gangsta rapper brings heat to the game with tales of living a tough life on the wrong side of the law. While all three of his new releases (Realest Tamil Livin, NBAYK and Never Be Meare pleasing to the ears, it might take the average Indian rap fan a minute to digest the harsh context.

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Watch “Realist Tamil Living” by Indian 777:

Also from the South is Young Dirrt, who recently dropped a video for his track titled “What I Want” this month. The buzzed-about song is a hit partly due to its club-friendly instrumental by Stunnah Beatz. Listening to the production, you could drop this one in the middle of an international hip-hop set without raising any eyebrows. Indian hip hop has definitely come a long way as far as quality goes.

The recently concluded Indian Soccer League also proved to be a surprising source of inspiration in Indian hip-hop, as two artists released paeans to their local teams. Street Academics of Kerala released “God’s Own Goal,” while Kolkata’s Feyago (one of Rolling Stone India’s Best New Artists of 2014) came through with “Bolo ATK.” Coincidentally, these were also the two teams that reached the finals. Wonder if that’ll lead to some MCs being scooped up and paid for anthems in the future!

As we enter the new year, the bar has been raised sky high. We look forward to seeing everything on a larger scale. 2015, let’s go!

 

 

Bob Omulo is the frontman of Mumbai-based hip hop, reggae and bass group Bombay Bassment

 

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