Set aside musical biases for a moment and you will irrefutably stumble upon a truth that may have eluded you for years- Is Rap dead in India? Not yet. RDB’s “Swag Mera Desi” may have given us Raftaar’s best verse till date. When Raftaar is on his flow he has been described by many as impeccable. The track by RDB which features the talented rapper is pure bravado music.
Raftaar invites us to a clinic on how to rap well. Few emcees have access to such a wide skill set. He spits his verses in seamless fashion and yet manages to integrate a powerful storytelling element. His final verse is an outstanding demonstration of rap at its zenith.
“Mach padi bhagdad ajkal
Jabse me karne laga hu jo kisi ne bhi kiya nahi
Piya nahi kuch bhi
Main phir bhi hu high mere bhai
Maine zindagi ko gandagi me jiya nahi
Choda maine kitno ko star banake
Bhula baithe paise wo hazar kamake
Saath mera dene waalon ko mera salam
Faile naam mera poori Raftaar badha ke”
There aren’t many rappers in India who can name drop Eminem’s standout track “Rap God” from his eight studio album, The Marshall Mathers LP 2 and not sound stupid. In the verse that begins at 2.30, Raftaar raps 64 words in 11 seconds— an average of six words per second! Yes you read that right. And if you thought that’s where his contribution ended, he returns to spit another immaculate bar and takes you down a verbal waterfall.
Rap music has never had it easy in India. Listeners and general observers throughout the nation have always been highly critical about the content and lyrics in rap music. It just struck me; this genre could actually be the hardest genre to defend given the nature of the art.
A true connoisseur of music will realise that rap music like any other genre must be viewed as an art form. Rappers only talk about their surrounding environment that they are a part of. Their messages are a mirror image of what they experience and observe in everyday life.
Maybe the way they choose to express their thoughts could be sore to hear but that’s no reason to impede on someone’s freedom of expression. True fans of the art know that rap music is all about the flow, wordplay, metaphors, similes, witty repartee and impeccable production.
Over the years a handful of talented artists have created a nice for themselves within this genre. One of those is a multi-lingual rap group called Dopeadelicz from Mumbai. Not so long ago they were signed by Qyuki, a platform for up and coming artists to hone their skills. It was co-created by two of India’s creative geniuses- A.R.Rahman and Shekhar Kapur.
Dopeadelicz is a group of four men in their early twenties who rap about everything from marijuana, altercations with the police, ambitions and also engage in social commentary. Artist like them is just what the Indian music scene needs to shake things up. It’s no more about thinking out of the box. It’s about tearing the box apart.
In context with the sudden rise of radio-friendly hip-hop music in India, artists like Raftaar and Dopeadelicz, stand out as one of the few instances in recent times where a rapper manages to showcase his wordplay without sounding corny.
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