The concept of hip-hop emerged from the ghettos. It has primarily been an underground movement, from where artists have struggled to bring it to the commercial scene. What the movie 8 Mile did to the American hip-hop revolution, Gully Boy has done to its Indian counterparts created a platform for the indie rappers and hip-hop artistes.
While Punjabi and Hindi rap has been welcomed with open arms, other vernacular languages are yet to make their mark. Lately, even Hyderabad has been witnessing vernacular Telugu rappers who have created a niche audience for themselves, mostly through social media.
Rahul Kumar Velpula, known in Hyderabad by his stage name Roll Rida, stepped into the Big Boss house as a contestant last year. “Telugu rap, or any vernacular rap for that matter, should connect with the fans’ local essence. Rap is about telling your own story. So if Eminem is talking about eight miles, I would rather choose to talk about Jubilee checkpost,” he says, adding, “Hyderabad and even the rural areas across the state are welcoming Telugu rappers. Commercial platforms like Bigg Boss and ofcourse movies like Gully Boy help boost the interest in this genre.”
Pranav Chaganty, who rose to popularity with the track Panipuri and then rapped in the Telugu version of Kaala, says, “The city is slowly accepting rap. Until recently, the commercial scene was dominated by Tollywood music, and that was overpowering independent artists. However, with Gully Boy, I have a feeling that not just Telugu but rappers in other vernacular languages will also get enough limelight to put themselves out there.”
Expressing his views on the nature of rap that will help the genre become popular in its initial stages, Pranay says, “If anything new needs to start, the topic needs to be entertaining and not too serious. For example, I used to rap about social evils like rape and acid attacks, however, Panipuri was the track that got famous.”
Resonating with a similar opinion, rapper Harish Gorappalli, also known as MC Uneek, says, “When we compare the hip-hop scenario in Mumbai and Hyderabad, the former has a more viable market. The Telugu rap scene is relatively nascent and currently does not have a sustainable market. The biggest driver would be if Tollywood promotes Telugu rap. Preferably not in the stereotypical masala entertainment way, though. The kind of topics that indie rappers are seeking out, people are taking it well. MC Mike and I have been performing at clubs for the past couple of months, and the crowd has definitely been warming up.”
Following the success of Gully Boy, Telugu rappers strive to build a wider market for hip-hop and rap in the Hyderabad music scene...