#HaqSeBolo Podcast Ep#7 Dopeadelicz: ‘If There Are More Rappers, There’s More Opportunity’
The Mumbai multilingual rap crew on the power of language, artist rights and competition in Indian hip-hop
“Hip-hop artist — jabhi [kuch] milta nahi hai, woh bana leta hai (When hip-hop artists don’t have something, they create it,)” says Mumbai rapper Tony Sebastian aka Stony Psyko. #HaqSeBolo’s seventh episode features rappers Stony Psyko and Rajesh Radhakrishnan aka Dope Daddy of Mumbai multilingual hip-hop group Dopeadelicz in conversation with Rolling Stone India’s Executive Editor Nirmika Singh. Bolo is the audio and video podcast series chronicling the journeys of some of the biggest names in Indian hip-hop as part of #HaqSeHipHop, digital media firm Qyuki and Rolling Stone India’s multi-platform venture to nurture the hip-hop ecosystem in the country.
Dopeadelicz has been a fixture in the city’s burgeoning hip-hop scene since 2012, with founders and rappers Stony Psyko, Dope Daddy and Agnel Avinash Benson aka Ben Z banding together to speak out on imposed strictures of morality. Born from a love for rap and the chronic, Dopeadelicz lean on their native tongues — Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi — Hindi and English to draw on their experience of growing up in Dharavi. The crew isn’t afraid to get intersectional and their viral, breakout singles “Aai Shapath Saheb Me Navtho” (2019) and “Legalise It” (2015) are both cheeky and chock-full of social commentary. Tackling poverty, class disparity, the education system, societal conventions and more, the crew gets more relatable with every release.
On Bolo, Stony Psyko and Dope Daddy get real about their journey from rapping in English to rapping in multiple languages, the scramble for better production, the evolution of Indian hip-hop and more. From the streets to the international stage, both rappers have witnessed India’s hip-hop landscape change. “New kids are starting up and there are new crews coming and everybody is representing their pin code and area where they are coming from. It [makes me] feel so proud that they are representing what they are,” says Stony Psyko.
With hip-hop’s leap from the underground to the mainstream in India, Dopeadelicz see the culture growing, getting bigger and bigger — who would’ve thunk India would have its own hip-hop reality show until MTV’s Hustle premiered this year? “Mereko aise lagta hai (I feel that) opportunity is everywhere right now,” says Dope Daddy. The duo speak of their challenges too on Bolo, from first finding an audience for their tunes to the genre transcending to a space where the listener has plenty of artists to pick from. They emphasize how relevance can set an artist apart. “If there are more rappers, there’s more opportunity also. The competition is healthy,” says Stony Psyko.
Dopeadelicz reminisce about how they first started out in 2012 on Bolo, sharing their plans for the future with a studio already being set up to give back to the community. Privilege varies with every artist but social media is changing everything, slightly democratizing the competing field. With the dawn of India’s 4G revolution, new artists are now looking to produce music videos instead of just putting their tracks on SoundCloud, ReverbNation and Myspace. The audience is what matters at the end of the day and staying authentic seems to be the key. “Apun views khareed sakte hai, yeh sab kuch khareed sakte hai lekin audience ka attention nahi khareed sakte hai (We can buy the views and all of that jazz, but we can’t buy the audience’s attention,)” says Stony Psyko.
Dopeadelicz reveal details about their upcoming debut album Mapulz which will consist of two volumes and will feature songs in multiple languages — Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi, Hindi and English. Language is an important element of this offering for the crew and the first two singles from the record, “Aai Shapath Saheb Me Navtho” (Marathi) and “Wake Up” (Tamil), have already been released. On Bolo, Stony Psyko speaks of how the crew came to transition to rapping in their native tongues. “Matlab itna jyada authentic lagta hai mereko. Jab bhi main Tamil mein rap karta hoon, woh confidence level aur rehta hai (I feel a lot more confident and authentic when I rap in Tamil,)” he says.
Stony Psyko and Dope Daddy also speak of the pros and cons of being independent artists, Indian hip-hop’s distinct desi flavor, what fellow rapper MC Altaf and rap crew 7 Bantaiz signify for the scene and more. Watch the seventh episode of #HaqSeBolo below: