La Danza Poetica #66 Docta Deep's Hip Hop India

Special guest DJ Docta Deep takes over La Danza Poetica this month, with a Hip Hop India mixtape. Docta Deep is a Melbourne-based producer and DJ who is currently doing a PhD at the RMIT School of Media and Communications on the grassroots Hip Hop culture in urban India. Featuring rap crews and artists from Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, and Assam, representing the country’s various linguistic and religious groups, Docta Deep’s Hip Hop India takes us right into the present counter-culture.

In his words:

"India’s Hip Hop culture is young - it is largely a 21st century phenomenon, facilitated by the proliferation of digital media amongst an urban youth grappling with the challenges of over-crowding, corruption, the impact of neoliberalism, and the country’s multi-tiered social hierarchy. This DIY Hip Hop culture offers a counter-narrative to the glitzy Bollywood, and the Pop- Rap pastiche that dominates the Indian mainstream. With music made on hand-me down laptops, videos shot on phone cameras, and “cyphers” organised through social media, Indian rap artists paint a more realistic picture of Indian urban life with its daily struggles and joys."

Huge thanks to Docta Deep for this amazing mix and also for the notes about each track - you'll find those below. Click on the images above for links to each artist.


Raja Kumari - City Slums feat DIVINE
Mumbai’s Finest - Mumbai Cypher (feat. Stony Psyko, Tod Fod, Kinga Rhymes, Mawali, Ace aka 39 & A.B.Y.) 
Naezy - Mere Gully Mein feat DIVINE
Awessum Frankie - Ye Mera Area
Old Boy - River Below
Black Zang & Dee MC - No Boundaries
Streetfood - The story of tire marks
Gari-B & Badboy Bandya - Gutternaak Flow
NaAmak - Kitaabe (The Book)
Ace aka 39 Ft Smokey The Ghost - Achhe ke liye (For the Best) 
Naezy - Tragedy and Comedy
Prabh Deep - Oye Oye
DIVINE - Kaam 25
Su Real - Gamusa featuring Dekaa
100RBH and Darpan - Badlaav
Cizzy - Kolkata 42 

Notes on the show

1. Raja Kumari - City Slums feat DIVINE

The mixtape starts with the upbeat track by Raja Kumari, a US rapper of Indian origin, returning to her ancestral land to record a duet with Vivien Fernandes aka DIVINE, one of the rising stars of Mumbai “gully” rap scene. A “gully” is a narrow street or lane that criss- crosses through the dense living quarters and shanty towns of Indian cities that is home to DIVINE.

2. Mumbai’s Finest - Mumbai Cypher (feat. Stony Psyko, Tod Fod, Kinga Rhymes, Mawali, Ace aka 39 & A.B.Y.)

A fast-paced track featuring some of the originators of Mumbai street cyphers, consisting of 6 rappers that form the multi-lingual crew called Mumbai’s Finest, featuring bars in Hindi, Urdu, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil, and English

3. Naezy - Mere Gully Mein feat DIVINE

DIVINE is featured again in this track by rapid-fire Urdu rapper Naezy, who grew up in one of Mumbai’s crime-ridden slums. This playful track is an ode to the slum “gully”, which also offers a space for socialisation and camaraderie amongst young men resisting familial pressure and the hegemony of the state.

4. Awessum Frankie - Ye Mera Area

Now, we move to the eastern port city of Kolkata, home to the young rapper called Awessum Frankie, who pays his dues, in the micro-local dialect of Hindi/Urdu, to his “hood”, a largely working-class Muslim section of the city. “Ye Mera Area” translates to “This is my Area”

5. Old Boy - River Below

Fifty kilometres north of Kolkata lies the once-French enclave of Chandan Nagore, which is home to the young rapper who calls himself Old Boy. An artistically-gifted young man with a strong command of literary Bengali, Old Boy offers a social commentary on the current state of Indian politics.

6. Black Zang & Dee MC - No Boundaries

Dee MC is a prominent female rapper, B-girl, and social activist in a predominantly male scene. A hard-working artist who is widely respected by her male peers, Dee MC has performed internationally in the UK and in the Netherlands. Lamenting the erection of political borders, and consequent strife, amongst nations that were once part of the greater India, she teams up with renowned Bangladeshi rapper, Black Zang, to deliver No Boundaries.

7. Streetfood - The story of tire marks

Kolkata-based indie-rappers Cizzy and Joe perform this moody track about everyday life on the city streets, reminiscent of the traditional folk musics of Bengal.

8. Gari-B & Badboy Bandya - Gutternaak Flow

Back to Mumbai with Gari-B and Badboy and Bandya from the satirical and theatrical collective called Tadpaki Talkies.

9. NaAmak - Kitaabe (The Book)
The haunting and melodic rap song in Hindi from Delhi-based NaAmak. 10. Ace aka 39 Ft Smokey The Ghost - Achhe ke liye (For the Best)

One of the originators of Mumbai underground Hip Hop and one of the senior-most rappers, Ace aka 39 spits bars with Bangalore MC Smokey the Ghost and offer a narrative of Indian Hip Hop culture to encourage young artists in the scene.

11. Naezy - Tragedy and Comedy

Naezy is back with a humorous stab at the current state of Indian (and global) politics with this track, equating this to being a tragedy and as well as a comedy.

12. Prabh Deep - Oye Oye

Hardcore Sikh rapper Prabh Deep, from Delhi, also offers political commentary in Punjabi with a track produced by Sez on the Beat. He’s signed onto Delhi’s Azadi Records, which features militant rap crews.

13. DIVINE - Kaam 25

Slumdog DIVINE returns with a soundtrack to the Netflix crime flick called Sacred Games. The most “gangsta” of the tracks in this mixtape, Kaam 24 is a growling take on the hypocrisy and violence of the state, rather than a simplistic glorification of crime.

14. Su Real - Gamusa featuring Dekaa

Delhi-based Bass music producer Su Real features the Assamese rapper Dekaa for this “woop hoop” club stomper

15. 100RBH and Darpan - Badlaav

A G-Funk influenced track in the Marathi language from young MCs, 100RBH and Darpan

16. Cizzy - Kolkata 42

Head-honcho of the Kolkata Hip Hop scene, Cizzy, also offers an ode to his hood, the suburb Kasba, a mainly over-crowded proletariat neighbourhood that is undergoing gentrification. Though the aspirational middle-class reside in the newly built apartment blocks, the streets are still ruled by the working class locals, with whom the new residents must negotiate with to become members of the community.

Main image: Mumbai's Finest