The alternative hip-hop scene in India has experienced a remarkable surge, emerging as a dynamic and evolving subculture within the country's diverse music landscape. Departing from traditional norms, alternative hip-hop artists in India have charted a unique path for themselves, blending elements of rap, poetry, and experimental sounds. With their thought-provoking lyrics and genre-defying production, these artists tackle a range of socio-political issues, personal narratives, and unconventional storytelling. From Prabh Deep's introspective and poetic verses to shauharty's raw and textured music, and Faris Shafi's dreamy yet ambitious compositions, alternative hip-hop in India embraces diversity, pushes boundaries, and offers a fresh perspective on contemporary music. Here are some of the leading names in the alt hip-hop world.
In the ever-evolving landscape of the underground music circuit, one artist has emerged as a frontrunner. Garv Taneja, known by his moniker Chaar Diwari, has quickly evolved into a force to be reckoned with in terms of his experimental artistry. With a distinct sound that refuses to be confined to any particular genre, Chaar Diwari is carving a path for himself, setting him apart from his peers. Drawing inspiration from the dissonant chaos found in JPEGMAFIA’s tracks and the lyrical abstractionism present in Tyler, The Creator's projects, Chaar Diwari weaves together a sonic tapestry that is raw and eruptive. Chaar Diwari's debut EP, titled 'Teri Maiyat Ke Gaane,' garnered widespread acclaim from audiences and critics alike for its visceral quality and unapologetic experimentation.
Among the standout tracks from Chaar Diwari's discography, here are some that exemplify his artistry including KYA, Barood, and Enjaay.
Ahmedabad's very own Dhanji stands tall as the torchbearer of alternative regional rap, retaining audiences with his enigmatic presence and one-of-a-kind style. With a distinct off-the-rails staccato flow that carries its own personality, Dhanji effortlessly breaks free from traditional hip-hop moulds. His beat selection across his large repertoire of projects showcases his boisterous and offbeat musicality.
In his latest single, ‘Thaltej Blues’ Dhanji further solidifies his position as an alternative hip-hop artist to watch. This track serves as a glimpse into his highly anticipated upcoming album, RUAB. Thaltej Blues draws inspiration from jazzy-funk sounds, with a captivating saxophone ensemble woven throughout the composition. Dhanji's lyricism in Gujarati, English and Hindi creates a unique and exhilarating sonic experience.
Some standout tracks by Dhanji that encapsulate his experimental spirit include Mausambi Drip, Yagna, & Guru.
Prabh Deep, hailing from Delhi, is widely recognized as being among the vanguard of alternative rap in India and is renowned for his dreamy yet ambitious musical style. His artistic sensibilities have undergone a fascinating transformation, evolving from a straightforward and assertive aura to crafting albums like Tabia and Bhram, with their genre-bending production and conceptual backdrops. Prabh Deep has carved a niche for himself by exploring themes of self-discovery and exhibiting a stoic mindset, resulting in music that exudes a profound and captivating romanticism.
Tabia, in particular, garnered critical acclaim and solidified Prabh Deep's position as a visionary artist. This project truly encapsulated the essence of a well-rounded musical endeavor, excelling in its concept, production, and performance. With Tabia, Prabh Deep propelled himself into a realm of understated stardom, wielding sounds that navigate a path that few have the opportunity to explore.
Some essential alternative tracks by Prabh Deep include Huqum, Preet, & Tajurba.
Within the expansive realm of alternative rap, shauharty emerges as a trailblazer, spearheading the abstract hip-hop subgenre. With his debut project, MADHEERA, which boasts the executive production of ARSLAN, shauharty has crafted an album that transcends boundaries and redefines genres. It is a true testament to his ability to shape and transform the musical landscape.
shauharty's distinct style can be described as raw, visceral, and textured. His music comes alive, offering an immersive experience that captures the essence of his artistic vision. Drawing inspiration from influential figures such as MF DOOM, redveil, and other alt rappers, shauharty has honed his craft, pushing the boundaries of what is possible within the genre.
Our picks from shauharty’s discography include B.V.B Prelude, D-Deemak/Giombini, & Chaska
In the dynamic world of desi hip-hop, it would be remiss not to mention Pakistani actor-rapper Faris Shafi. Although he may not release a large volume of work, Faris Shafi has managed to cultivate a substantial fan base solely based on his Urdu lyricism, which packs a punch when paired with alternative production.
A key element contributing to his success is his unique flow. Shafi's ability to switch between languages showcases his versatility, and his lyrics, filled with honesty and humor, often catch listeners off guard with their out-of-the-blue rhyme schemes.
Our picks from Faris’ discography include Nazar, Introduction, & Vitamin D.
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