Fifty years ago, in the vibrant neighbourhoods of the Bronx in New York City, a cultural revolution was born. Little did the world know then that this energetic and rhythmic movement would evolve into a global phenomenon that would transcend boundaries, languages, and generations. Hip-hop, with its unique blend of music, dance, art, and attitude, has become a timeless force shaping the world's cultural landscape.
In our country too, music evolved over the years, embracing various genres and styles, and one of the most influential genres to have taken root here in the last few decades is hip-hop. And among the many talented artistes who have shaped the Indian hip-hop scene, Aditya Prateek Singh Sisodia aka Badshah stands out as a true pioneer.
His journey began in 2006 when Yo Yo Honey Singh formed the hip-hop collective 'Mafia Mundeer' along with other fellow hip hop artistes. In July 2015 he released his first single 'DJ Wale Babu' that was a part of his debut album 'ONE (Original Never Ends)'. This track became an instant hit, garnered millions of views on YouTube, and truly catapulted Badshah to stardom.
Soon began a new era in Indian music where hip-hop gained mainstream recognition. Over the years, Badshah—in his characteristic blend of Punjabi rhythms, catchy hooks, and hard-hitting rap verses— gave us numerous hits including ‘Proper Patola’, ‘Genda Phool’, ‘Kar Gayi Chull’, ‘Mercy’, ‘The Humma Song’, ‘Kala Chashma’, ‘Buzz’, ‘Garmi’, ‘Jugnu’ and many others.
With a string of superhits in Bollywood, he has played a crucial role in bringing hip hop into the mainstream and breaking the barriers that once limited its reach. Badshah’s style of incorporating elements of Punjabi folk music and pop culture references into his songs make them relatable to a wide audience and have endeared him to a diverse fan base. His tracks are known for their infectious beats, making them a staple in clubs and parties across India. Badshah has collaborated with international artistes, including the likes of Sean Paul, Major Lazer, and others—and has gone on to become a trailblazer in the Indian hip-hop scene.
As we celebrate this genre’s remarkable journey, let’s check out what one of India’s most-loved hip hop artistes, Badshah has to say!
1. Hip-hop as a genre is celebrating its 50th year in 2023. This is an important milestone. What do you have to say about this?
Congratulations to everyone who made it so far and contributed to this milestone moment. Hip-hop was always built for greatness and mainstream success. It’s just not a genre; it’s a movement. It’s a way of life that presents cultures and prevalent issues in the most authentic and relatable fashion. If you notice the patrons of hip-hop as opposed to other genres like pop or dance music, they have this unspoken bond and sense of togetherness. Hip-hop is that genre that binds people beyond the mundane barriers of colour, race, language and religion.
2. In the last decade hip-hop has grown in a massive way, don’t you think? What do you see happening now?
The next wave we will witness will be all about Indian sounds. It’s about time that the Indian sound is globalised. If Western markets have been quick to adapt to Afro, Korean, Spanish and Latin then India is a cultural superpower that is about to explode. Indian artists have a unique sound and an equally unique culture, and we need to go beyond references like brown skin renaissance and South Asian excellence. We are a global movement in our own right and the West needs to accept this. We need to sell out stadiums at Madison and Royal Albert Hall, pick up Oscar and Grammy nominations, and headline Coachella and Glastonbury not once in a decade but consistently.
3. Hip-hop has found a sure place for itself in the Hindi film music industry and also the South Indian film music industry. What do you feel about this?
I’ve always said this—Indian music is beautiful, unique and nuanced. The mainstream appeal that hip-hop garnered in India can be credited largely to the Hindi film industry, but today the South film industry is picking pace and is adapting to newer formulas and trends. There’s always room for everyone and every genre to grow and flourish.
4. There are so many artistes today in India who claim to be hip-hop musicians. What do you think hip-hop in India really needs the most today in order to grow better?
Brotherhood and less prejudice. The one thing that needs to change is that artists need to work cohesively towards one singular cause of putting Indian hip-hop out there on the world stage rather than focusing on the whole ‘I’m better than you’ mentality. Because in the process everyone is just dissing the other and focusing on their personal flex rather than seeing the bigger picture of a community flex.