Mumbai Unites For #HaqSeHindustan: Stellar Performances, Incredible Diversity
Heavyweight rap stars, diverse collaborations and vibrant graffiti set the tone for Rolling Stone India and Qyuki’s debut hip-hop gig at Famous Studios
1. A Mélange of Aesthetically Pleasing Art, Vibes And Activations
When walking into Mumbai’s Famous Studios yesterday for Haq Se Hindustan, you couldn’t miss the activation zone filled with some stellar art designed by graffiti artist Prathmesh Gurav aka Zake. The art on display were like snapshots of the mood for the evening — neon paint and sharp designs. The zone turned into a prime spot for photo ops, catching up with folks and talking about all things hip-hop as well as a place where some known figures such as music journalist Amit Gurbaxani, musician Sidd Coutto, comedian Abish Mathew and more gave their thoughts on the event.
2. All For One And One For All
Host for the evening, RJ Rohini Ramnathan, brought to light the fact that the Haq Se Hindustan concert ticked all the boxes of hip-hop — rapping, b-boying, beatboxing, DJing and graffiti. Not only were all the bases covered but there was also plenty of diversity within the broad categories on show, with a lineup that featured artists from seven cities spitting bars in nine languages. Several rappers on the bill also spoke about how hip-hop and music have no language barriers and that it brings people together no matter where they come from.
3. The Dharavi Dream Project Brought Their A-Game
One of the best representatives of how multicultural and binding hip-hop can be, The Dharavi Dream Project made an unforgettable mark at Haq Se Hindustan. As the performers opening the concert, rappers, beatboxers and DJs showed off their recently honed skills with total passion, with MCs Younglord, Siddhu and Sky changing the mood instantly with their “Haq Se Anthem” about the need for women empowerment. The grassroots showcase spilled over to the rest of the night, with their dance crews – from under 10s to teens – matching moves to everyone on the lineup.
4. Gubbi and Heam Share Their Spotlight with New Talent
Repping Karnataka at Haq Se Hindustan was Bengaluru’s seasoned voice Gubbi, who put forward old and new material during his set in English and Kannada. The rapper took some time to warm up but the crowd was on the same page throughout, chanting along Kannada and English hooks at his Mumbai debut. Meanwhile, MC Heam aka Hemant Dhyani was hyping the Dharavi Dream Project’s opening set and unleashed a whole new beast version of himself during his performance, taking aim at TikTok rappers and uncles and aunties alike.
Both rappers were keen to use their stage time to highlight new talent – Gubbi (joined by DJ Panic) had his latest collaborator, rapper-singer Madhura Gowda aka MG join and even sing her own song, while Heam shared space with rapper Void and even called back the Dharavi Dream Project B-boys for his unreleased song “Hardcore.”
5. MC Manmeet Kaur’s Vibrant Showcase
Chandigarh/Goa rapper MC Manmeet Kaur took on the continual run of onstage collaborations and invited Bgirl Amby (Ambarin Kadri) from Mumbai-based Roc Fresh Crew to add more elements in her already diverse set. MC Kaur took charge of pretty much everything on stage, from mixing behind the console to singing and rapping. Her selection of tunes showcased the free-flowing songs off her 2018 album Neophilia and dub and reggae-infused songs which effortlessly dived into socially conscious lyrics as well as party-friendly vibes.
6. The Energetic Crowd That Made Haq Se What It Was
Without the audience – organizers and performers alike would be nowhere. And boy was the audience at Haq Se Hindustan one of the most energetic, lively, bouncy and hyped up crowds we’ve seen. We witnessed attendees breakdancing on and off the stage, moshing as well as doing a choreographed sit down and jump during New Delhi rapper Prabh Deep’s set, grooving to Shillong hip-hop outfit Khasi Bloodz and raging to the sounds of hip-hop through the course of the evening.
7. The Unmatched Stand of 100RBH
Although the rest of his crew in Raphopper couldn’t make it from Amravati to Mumbai due to logistical issues, rapper Saurabh Abhyankar aka 100RBH more than made up for it at the concert with incendiary intent. First with a short 15 minute set that covered ground on his roots and threw in his now-famous verse from “India 91” off Bollywood film Gully Boy, 100RBH also came into his own during Swadesi’s set with bass beatsmith Bandish Projekt. Whether it was the breakaway couplets about government corruption or incisive delivery on his verses in “Raukto De,” “Jhand” and “Khaari Baat,” 100RBH was in devastating form and is likely to go from strength to strength.
8. Dopeadelicz Bring Mumbai Flavor, Praise the Chronic
Mumbai crew Dopeadelicz featuring rappers Dope Daddy and Stony Psyko not only brought their Mumbai fire to the Haq Se stage but also showcased their versatility by rapping in Hindi, Marathi and Tamil. Dopeadelicz’s set included tracks such as the jumpy “Bounce” off multi-instrumentalist/producer Aakash Ravikrishnan recently released album Over Seas, the cheeky “Legalize It,” the brand new glitchy “Wake Up,” the sassy “Aai Shapath Saheb Me Navtho” and more. The hometown boys definitely drove home their set with high energy, plenty of crowd interaction, typically American hip-hop attire and banging verses.
9. Khasi Bloodz and Prabh Deep Bring The House Down
Shillong hip-hop crew Khasi Bloodz and New Delhi’s Punjabi wordsmith Prabh Deep both had exceptional live bands enhancing their slick production and it’s probably something we need to see more often in India’s live circuit. Khasi Bloodz were unsparing and snarling in their intent on songs like “Don’t Stop” and “Pain,” almost inflecting a gangsta rap style, backed by drummer Gideon Kom, guitarist Imti Kharkongor and bassist Jerry Nelson Ranee and DJ Knack aka Duncan Kharmalki.
Prabh Deep ran on stage to become one of the most demanding performers of the night, and the crowd did supply the energy – from a wall of death on just a slice of “Class-Sikh Maut II” to stomp-arounds for songs like “Sauce,” “Maya” and “Suno.” Backed by drummer Sahil Shah, bassist and synth artist Hashbass aka Harshit Misra and DJ/hypeman Nash, Prabh lived up to the hype and then some.
10. Swadesi’s Seismic Fusion Hip-Hop Closing Set With Bandish Projekt
If you wanted to be treated to experimental hip-hop fusion, then hip-hop crew Swadesi (featuring MC Mawali, MC Tod Fod and MC Maharya) and seasoned electronica artist Mayur Narvekar aka Bandish Projekt’s collaborative set was a must-hear. The trio put on a strong showcase with the usage of konnakol, bass-heavy sounds, clever dynamics and powerful rhythms and more. They crunched out tracks from their collaborative Katal Kalaa and Khulle Naagde EPs such as the Indian classical-leaning “Kar Natak,” the pumping “Ek Se Aanth” and the raucous “Mumbai Aamchi.” Swadesi also performed a chopped and screwed remix version of their hard-hitting protest song “The Warli Revolt” which left no one standing still.