Interestingly, one of the most well-known rappers in the country, Dilin Nair aka Raftaar, who raps in Hindi, Punjabi and Haryanvi happens to be a Malayali. "Most people don't know this fact. After Malaika Arora Khan revealed that I am a Malayali on 'India's Got Talent', my Facebook and Twitter pages were filled with queries. In fact, some even thought that I had signed on a Malayalam movie and was promoting it. I was born in Kerala but largely grew up in a hostel in Haryana. That is how I am good at Punjabi and Haryanvi. I thoroughly enjoy rapping in these languages," he tells IANS.
Believing that Rap is always anti-establishment and one of the most idiosyncratic means of giving voice to the voiceless, he says that as many of the country's rappers hail from lower-income backgrounds, their rhymes narrate stories of struggle and triumph that boast of cultural authenticity.
Stressing that the rap culture in the country needs to change on the thematic level, Raftaar feels that it must convey a deep message, and not only be about driving in fancy cars and drinking alcohol in lounges. "We need better music videos and a larger fan base that supports the authentic scene. I rap about being a proud desi. What is the point of throwing in a fake American accent? Why try so hard? The subjects that dominate rap songs now are more individualistic than ever before. Let us not forget that Hip-Hop is a part of a forever growing counterculture."
Adding that while commercialisation is important for evolution, and music is no longer just another art form, but a serious profession, Raftaar says, "My only advice to artists is not to let music become just a way of making money in your lives. It is paramount to cultivate a strong emotional bond between yourself and your compositions. Responsibly shoulder the legacy you want to carry forward."
Talking about his association with 'Believe India', a digital music company that works with many independent musicians, he says that the journey has been quite gratifying. "I look forward to conquering fresh creative territories with them in the near future."
Shilpa Sharda, Director, Artist Services, Believe, says that they have already signed more than 60 artists across languages and genres. "We will continue the momentum of exploring regions/artists and grow more aggressively in certain markets. For us, 2021 has been an incredible year where we supported and saw the growth of the hip-hop genre in India and going forward, our focus continues to be on more languages and genres of music. As far as 'Believe' in India is concerned, we are fully committed and, in the forefront, to grow all our service lines and develop business for our artists and labels with Label and Artist Solutions, TuneCore and Artist Services divisions," she concludes.