From the Bronx to the sets of Bollywood, hip hop is making its presence felt. The forty odd year culture has been adapted and implemented as a mode of expression across the globe from the Arab Revolution in the Middle East to the slums of Dharavi in Mumbai.
Hemant Dhyani also known as MC Heam made his Bollywood debut a few months back. Being a veteran in the Indian hip hop scene; his entry into Bollywood came quite late. But they say it’s better late than never, and he made his Bollywood entry in style. ‘I was being told that Majid Majidi might not keep the recording in the movie. But when the first teaser of the film was out, my track was in it and I didn’t know how to react.’ He even ended up recording his second Bollywood track ‘Aala re aala’ for the same movie. ‘AR Rahman Sir was firm about me recording for this track.’
A poet by default, Heam has been writing since 8th standard. ‘I don’t know how, but it came naturally to me.’ During his first year in college, while having a conversation with a friend, he found his calling for rap music.
Dhyani, grew up in Delhi in a not-so-friendly neighbourhood. ‘I started off writing very conscious stuff and recorded them inside a car’. That’s how he completed his debut mixtape, ‘Veda Ashtra’.
Hemant spent one year of his adolescence life in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh. In that one year, the Delhi rapper was head over heels for all things Northeast. Originally from Uttarakhand, the Garhwal blood have a strong hatred for racists and racism. But his approach changed over the years. ‘From being very aggressive and violent, I have become more sober and calm, now.’ Today, if someone passes racist comments, he either walks away or explains to them why it’s not right.
Hip Hop School in the Slums
Heam has been working as a teacher at The Dharavi Project which is supported by Qyuki and Universal Music, India. Kids in Dharavi are being taught about the various elements of hip hop via the project. ‘My students initially addressed me as Japanese but I managed to explain them about the geography of India. Now they definitely know where Northeast India is.’
The rapper has been teaching about the technicalities of rap for years now through the hip hop collective, Slum Gods. ‘But I am constantly learning too. I keep myself updated with all the latest trends.’ They say knowledge is like an endless ocean and the 30-year-old rapper feels that he still has a lot more to explore. ‘It’s like an addiction now. If I am not making music, I become frustrated.’ A lot of new music and commercial projects is in the pipeline but the independent rapper does not want to rush things.
By Mrinal Paul