Indian Hip-Hop and Street Dance Culture
In the vibrant tapestry of India's cultural landscape, a rhythmic revolution has been brewing. The streets have become a stage, and the beats of hip-hop have fused with the soul of Indian dance. Welcome to a world where tradition meets urban flair, where storytelling takes shape through movement, and where the spirit of hip-hop and street dance thrives. Step into the rhythm, feel the energy, and embark on a journey that celebrates the vibrant fusion of art, culture, and self-expression. Welcome to the captivating world of Indian hip-hop and street dance and get to know about some of the most famous hip-hop artists of the country and the evolution of Indian hip-hop.
What is Hip-Hop and Indian Hip-Hop?
Hip-hop is a voice- and vision-centered culture. Hip-hop has a lot to give, but it's not just about the words that a rapper spits, the actions an artist performs, or the songs one writes, hip-hop has an entire vision and way of thinking. There is a lot more to it than just fast music and quick-fired lyrics. It involves the creativity of many various ideas, countless points of view, tons of experiences, and a lot of untapped ability in those around us.
Indian hip hop is a style of popular music that was created here in the country. Hip-hop music and culture known as "desi hip hop" include elements of both hip-hop and the Indian subcontinent; the term "desi" refers to the South Asian diaspora. The phrase is now also used to refer to pop music, rap music, and even rap music featuring rappers with South Asian ancestry.
Elements of Hip-Hop
There are basically four elements of Hip-Hop and they are:
- MCing/Rapping : Master of Ceremonies (MCing), sometimes referred to as deejaying, turntabling, and rapping, gained its name from Jamaica because that country was the first to bestow the title of MC on rappers. It is the cultural role that is most personal. An MC's job is to keep the crowd engaged. Typically, they introduce performers, engage with the crowd, and ensure that an event runs smoothly. An MC introduces the DJ they are working with, keeps the audience entertained, or praises someone using pre-written or spontaneous rhyming lyrics.
- B-Boying : B-boying is an athletic kind of street dancing that has its roots in the African American and Puerto Rican communities of the United States. It is sometimes referred to as breaking or break dancing. B-boying first gained popularity in the US, then moved to other nations before being practiced all over the world. Toprock, downrock, power moves, and freezes are just a few of the four dance move categories that can be used to categorize breakdancing. The dancers who perform this style are known as b-boys, b-girls, break-dancers, or breaker.
- Graffiti : Like the other components of hip hop, graffiti is a kind of art and a way for people to express their culture. Spray paint is used to paint topics that symbolize something or just a regular representation on walls and other public surfaces. Any type of paint or material can be used to create it. In metropolitan regions, it is more prevalent. We can all agree that cities would be dull and grey without graffiti; a little color never hurt anyone. However, it is frequently connected to gang culture or antisocial behavior.
- Beatboxing : Beatboxing, also known as vocal percussion, is the art of producing beats, rhythms, and melodies for music by using one's mouth, lips, tongue, and voice as a percussive instrument.
Origin and Evolution of Indian Hip-Hop & Street Dance
The roots of Indian hip-hop and street dance can be traced back to the influence of Western hip-hop culture that swept across the globe. Indian dancers and artists were captivated by the energy, rhythm, and storytelling aspect of this art form. They adapted and infused it with their own cultural elements, creating a unique blend that resonates with the Indian audience.
In the early days, Indian dancers primarily drew inspiration from international hip-hop pioneers such as Afrika Bambaataa, KRS-One, and Run-D.M.C. They were fascinated by the rawness, improvisation, and self-expression that hip-hop offered. These elements resonated with the Indian youth, who saw it as a form of rebellion and a way to express their own struggles and aspirations. As Indian dancers delved deeper into hip-hop, they realized the importance of infusing their own cultural elements into the art form. This led to the emergence of a unique Indian hip-hop style that blended Western influences with traditional Indian dance forms. Dancers started incorporating elements of classical Indian dance, folk dance, and Bollywood dance into their performances, adding a distinct Indian flavor to the movement vocabulary.
Indian hip-hop has evolved into various styles, reflecting the country's rich diversity. Desi hip-hop, with its blend of Hindi and English lyrics, has become a powerful voice for Indian youth, addressing social and political issues. Gully rap, originating from the streets and slums, highlights the struggles, dreams, and aspirations of the marginalized. Indian hip-hop artists like Divine, Naezy, and Raftaar have made significant contributions to the genre and gained recognition both nationally and internationally. Artists and crews from cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, and Bangalore started experimenting with various dance styles, music genres, and lyrical content, giving rise to a vibrant and dynamic hip-hop scene.
Street Dance Forms in India
Hip-hop street dance forms in India encompass a range of styles that have evolved and adapted to the country's unique cultural context. Here are some of the prominent hip-hop street dance forms in India:
- Breaking (B-boying/B-girling) : Breaking is one of the most popular and recognizable forms of hip-hop street dance in India. It originated in the Bronx, New York, and has gained immense popularity in India. Breaking involves dynamic and acrobatic moves, such as power moves (spins, flips, and freezes) and footwork. Indian breakers have made their mark on the global stage, showcasing their skills in competitions and events.
- Popping : Popping is a funk-based street dance style that focuses on the contraction and relaxation of muscles to create a series of quick, rhythmic movements. It is characterized by the distinctive popping and locking techniques, as well as robotic movements. Indian dancers have embraced popping and infused their own cultural influences into the style, creating a unique blend of traditional Indian movements and contemporary popping techniques.
- Locking : Locking is a funk dance style characterized by its distinctive freezes, exaggerated movements, and quick, rhythmic motions. It involves locking the joints of the body and then quickly releasing them to create a contrasting effect. Locking has found a dedicated following in India, with dancers incorporating their own flavor and style into this energetic dance form.
- Krumping : Krumping is an expressive and highly energetic street dance style that originated in Los Angeles. It involves exaggerated movements, intense facial expressions, and freestyle improvisation. Krumping in India has gained popularity for its raw and emotive nature, allowing dancers to release their emotions and tell powerful stories through their movements.
- Tutting : Tutting is a street dance form that incorporates intricate hand and arm movements inspired by ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. It involves creating geometric shapes, angles, and lines with the arms and hands. Indian dancers have embraced tutting and incorporated elements of Indian classical dance forms, creating a fusion of traditional and contemporary movements.
- Waacking : Waacking is a dance form that originated in the LGBTQ+ clubs of Los Angeles. It involves fast arm movements, posing, and theatrical gestures. Waacking has gained traction in India, with dancers incorporating their own style and narrative into this vibrant and expressive dance form.
- Hip-Hop Choreography : In addition to the individual dance forms, hip-hop choreography has also become popular in India. Choreographers blend various street dance styles, incorporating elements of breaking, popping, locking, and other hip-hop elements into group performances. These choreographed routines are often showcased in music videos, stage performances, and competitions.
Famous Indian Hip-Hop Artists and Dance Crews
Hip-Hop has been a rage amongst the youth in India for past decade and more and more budding artists are evolving everyday showing their unique talent. The diverse culture of India has given rise to several excellent hip-hop artists, many of whom have made their name overseas as well. Here are some of the most famous hip-hop rappers and dance crews from India:
- Divine : Mumbai native Vivian Fernandes enjoys using his own experiences and sincerity in his rap. He began rapping in English before switching to Hindi verses at the advice of a friend. The debut of "Meri Gully Main," which also included Naezy, gave him his big break. The song and its creator quickly became popular on the internet. He began as an underground rapper in 2011, and today he is among India's most well-known Hip Hop performers. The movie "Gully Boys," which was directed by Zoya Akhtar and stars Ranveer Singh as the hero, is based on the lives of DIVINE and Naezy.
- Naezy : Naved Shaikh is the real name of Naezy and was born and raised in the Ram Bachan Chawl in Mumbai. When he heard Sean Paul's "Temperature" during a wedding, he got inspired and hip hop came into his life. Naezy rose to fame after the release of the immensely famous "Aafat" music video. A documentary on his life called "Bombay 70" was released in 2014. Now, the famous Bollywood film "Gully Boy" is based on his life. He continues to be one of India's most well-liked street rappers.
- Raja Kumari : Svetha Rao, nicknamed Raja Kumari, is a fantastic songwriter in addition to being a fantastic rapper. As she worked with musicians like The Fifth Harmony, Knife Party, Fallout Boy, and others, her celebrity soared. She received a Grammy nomination in February 2015. She has been a classical dancer since she was 7 years old in addition to hip-hop, and she actively participates in many charitable endeavors.
- MC Prabh Deep : While DIVINE and Naezy preserve the original Hip Hop tradition in Mumbai, Prabh does so with his Punjabi rap in New Delhi. Hip-hop critics rank his debut album "Class-Sikh" among the genre's best. Through his rap, Prabh has a remarkable talent for telling stories. In contrast to the one-note raps of other rappers, Prabh's work is diverse.
- Brodha V : Vighnesh Shivanand is a Hip-hop songwriter, musician, and music producer from Bangalore. When he was 18, he started rapping. On Orkut, he used to participate in rap duels. As one of the greatest in the business, Brodha V has collaborated with several well-known people, including Vishal Dadlani, Raghu Dixit, Benny Dayal, and others. He has been hailed as one of India's top Hip Hop musicians by numerous pop culture websites like Buzzfeed and Scoopwhoop. Even Brodha V is mentioned in "Gully Boy" by Zoya Akhtar.
- Ace : In India, "Ace," sometimes known as 39 or Mumbai, is another well-known and prominent Hip Hop musician. He is the founder and boss of "Mumbai's Finest," Mumbai's top hip-hop crew. The Rolling Stones, India cover includes him as a featured person. He has collaborated with numerous internationally renowned musicians, including Flo-rida, AR Rahman, Salim-Sulaiman, Shaan, and others. Ace has made over 6000 appearances as a judge. His recent CD, "Second to None," best displays his rhyming technique.
HIP-HOP DANCE CREWS
- Desi Hoppers : A hip-hop dance group from Mumbai is called Desi Hoppers. The group Desi Hoppers was founded in 2015 and had seven original members. Desi Hoppers won the World of Dance Championships in Los Angeles in their first year of competition. The group made history by participating in World of Dance (WOD) as the first Indian dance team to do so and winning the competition. The process of their development and eventual victory was documented for the limited-run dance program "Bindass Naach" on the bindass channel. The group was asked to perform on Day Up and America's Got Talent (season 11).
- MJ5 Crew : The five-member, all-male dancing group MJ5 took home the 2013 India's Dancing Superstar trophy. Their path has been inspirational, from being the final winners of India's Dancing Superstar 2013 to choreographing songs for other Bollywood singers. They were also one of Dance Champions' top 5 competitors. Every performance the group MJ5 gave throughout the competition featured a different moonwalk. They are sometimes referred to as Michael Jackson reflections. Watch their videos and you'll be amazed!
- FAM.O.U. S Crew : The All/Mixed Street Styles Dance Crew FAM.O. U. S (Family Of United Swaggers) hails from Mumbai, India. Abhishek Das, the crew leader, took the initiative to start this unison on April 6, 2013. They have crew members who are experts in their respective fields. Lyrical, Krumping, House, Locking, Waacking, and numerous other styles. Their diversity of dancers' styles distinguishes them as a Unique Crew.
- 13.13 Crew : Six passionate dancers who call Mumbai their home make up the 13.13 crew: Sagar Bora, Gautam Manokaran, Rohan Badkar, Akshay Panchal, Durgesh Karlad, and Nishant Koli. At the 2016 World Hip-hop Dance Championship, they represented India, although they just missed the bronze medal by 0.01 points (too close). They took part in Dance+ Season 2 and made a lasting impression with their distinctive dance moves. Swag Stars is another name for them. They also choreographed the Remo D'souza-directed GF/BF music video for T-Series.
- Kings United India : The first Indian hip hop dance group, Kings United India, took home the bronze medal at the 2015 World Hip Hop Championship in San Diego. Their life story was observed and eventually transformed into the film ABCD 2, which was directed by Remo D'souza. They were one of Dance Champions' top 8 competitors. In Vasai, they have a beautiful studio where they teach hip-hop to budding artists. They continue to create dance covers and perform both within India and abroad.
In conclusion, the hip-hop and street dance culture in India has grown exponentially, becoming a vibrant and influential movement that celebrates creativity, self-expression, and cultural fusion. From its early roots in the streets of the Bronx, hip-hop and street dance have found a home in India, captivating dancers, and audiences alike with their infectious energy and powerful storytelling.
Indian hip-hop and street dance have not only evolved but have also developed their own distinct flavor, blending traditional Indian elements with the global hip-hop culture. This fusion has given rise to a rich tapestry of movement, showcasing the incredible diversity of Indian dance and bridging the gap between traditional and contemporary forms.