The cocktail of people that Mumbai is, it also holds its head high when it comes to languages. People from all over the country live here, and have made it their home. And, they have carried their roots with them; especially, the language. Mumbai embraces it all.
It’s only obvious, that this influence seeps into the musical landscape too. One of the most interesting outcomes of this is the regional rap music that’s on the rise in Mumbai. The various mother tongues have become an inseparable part of their identity.
Most of these rappers have come from chawls, gullys, and other economically backward areas. The motive behind their rap is to bring about a change in the mindset of the people around them, and they hope for a change in society for the better. Their mother tongue seems like an ideal choice for their music then, since one of the intents is to send out a message against oppression to their people in a language they understand.
Here is a look at some of the best rappers in the city who employ the mother tongue to give us some sick tracks.
MC Mawali Aklesh Sutar got himself the name Mawali because his hip-hop wardrobe had his mother call him a Mawali (a goon). But, there’s more to MC Mawali than his wacky name. His Marathi rap has a lot of meaning and talk about social change. Hailing from a middle class family which indulges in music in the form of bhajans, Aklesh has been close to music ever since he was born. Mawali, his Marathi rapper alter ego, came in a little later. Starting by writing poetry in the seventh grade, he wrote his first rap in the ninth grade, and from thereon he has never looked back.
Being the first Marathi rapper, and considered one of the most influential Hindi and Marathi rappers in the city, he has thrived on with his meaningful lyrics and incredible flow. It was when he wrote Laaj Watte Kai that his parents found out about his hidden talent, which by then was known and well-received in the Hip-Hop circuit. Mawali has also featured on a Bandish Projekt track, Gondhal. MC Mawali says he wants to change people’s mindsets and bring about a change in the society with his rap.
He is a part of the Swadesi rap movement which believes in reaching out to more people across India by rapping in their own tongues.
MC TodFod MC Todfod aka Dharmesh Parmar went to his crew, Swadesi, and told them he raps in English. They asked him to try rapping in Gujarati as it was his mother tongue, and he could do well. He did. He wrote a few lines, on the spot, the performance of which got him a response of “You sound sick!” That is how Todfod began rapping in Gujarati.
A resident of the BD Chawl in Andheri, Todfod describes his style of rap as Conscious Rap, which means he raps about the people around him, their lifestyle and their mindsets. His track Su Che Karvanu is about the confused state of mind that the transition between real and virtual life causes in today’s youth. He also invited a little controversy when he was featured on a Bandish Projekt track, Cows, supporting the beef ban.
Todfod is also a part of the Swadesi rap movement.
Dope Daddy RAC and Stony Psyko Rajesh Radhakrishnan Nair is a Malayali boy in Mumbai rapping in Tamil. The raps are as interesting as the premise sounds. Tony Fernandes calls himself Stony Psyko because he was sent for counseling when in school, and that had his friends call him ‘psycho’. Together they form the group Dopeadelicz.
Tony Sebastian had a friend who lived the hip-hop lifestyle – the clothing, the behaviour, and the works.
Hip Hop music, culture, style and its influences were uncommon in the slums of Dharavi, where Tony and Rajesh grew up. Until one day Tony met a friend who lived the hip-hop lifestyle, which got his interest. That was Tony’s introduction to hip-hop and the first steps towards adopting his alter-ego, Stony Psyko. Stony Psyko, then, went on to form Dopeadelicz with Dope Daddy RAC and Ben-Z. He has also collaborated with multiple rap groups and is a part of the Swadesi rap movement, where he contributes to Tamil and Hindi rap. He regularly performs Tamil rap with Dopeadelicz, and he performed Marathi rap when he featured on the SlumGods’ The Mumbai Song along with MC Mawali and a few others.
It was Tony who introduced Rajesh to hip-hop and caused his transformation into Dope Daddy RAC. His heavy, rough voice has a texture which is memorable and it also makes his Tamil rapping more interesting.
Earlier this year, Dopeadelicz released a track and a video for Legalise It, a rap through which they demand the legalization of weed. The group made an appearance in Coke Studio Season 4 on Ram Sampath’s track Bharatiyar Trap Rap in which they fuse Tamil rap with Carnatic vocals on a pretty solid rock arrangement, and Rangabaati, which is Odisha’s most popular folk song with an addition of Tamil rap performed by the crew.
Dopeadelicz’s, and especially Dope Daddy RAC’s signature brand of Tamil rap with a lovely flow and meaningful words will astonish you, but only because of how interesting and likeable it sounds.
The South Dandies Swaraj is a three-piece rap group from Dharavi. The group comprises of Suresh Agalian Bose aka Sean YKV, Ranjit Shankar aka Kushmir and Rahul Prasad aka Tamil. All three are Tamilians who migrated to Mumbai for work. They use their roots in Tamil Nadu and their upbringing in Dharavi, Mumbai to their advantage and talk about social issues in both the areas and in the society in general. They rap in Tamil, primarily, but also use English and Hindi to great effect.
The group has been active for a few years now and have released a track called Dharavi Anthem, as a tribute to Dharavi, their home. Last year, they released Kacheri Vibe, a song which they have dedicated to the rural Tamilian life. Earlier this year, for Republic Day, they released Unfree, a song which talks about how the citizens of the country are not truly free because of the state of the nation, the corruption, the scams, the hate speeches and the lack of freedom of speech.
Give these guys a listen and a shout out! Also tell us who’s your favourite rapper?