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Desi hip hop is a term for music and culture which combines the influences of hip hop and the Indian subcontinent; the term desi referring to the South Asian diaspora. The term has also come to be used as an alternative for rap music and even pop music which involves rappers of South Asian origins. Creation of the Genre "desi hip hop" is credited to Bohemia.[1]

Following the launch of Bohemia (rapper) second album Pesa Nasha Pyar (2006), whose tracks such as "Kali Denali", "Kurti" and "Sahara" became big hits, there was a new-found interest in desi languages during the late 2000s.[2][3] Even though there were several occasional hits during this period, the desi hip hop scene remained limited largely to the underground, with a very niche loyal audience.[4] Hip-hop culture, including graffiti and b-boying started seeping into the club scene and street culture of big cities like Delhi and Mumbai.[5]

In 2011, Silicon Valley technology executive and Hip-Hop enthusiast Hardik Dave'[6] launched to support up and coming South Asian Hip-Hop artists. After the 2015 SXSW Panel session "Hip-Hop In India and Why You Should Care"[7], Hardik Dave' went on to establish DesiHipHop Inc in 2016 as the first ever lifestyle brand and digital media company dedicated to empowering the revolution of Hip-Hop to the South Asian diaspora globally through artist management, record label operations, live events & technology.



Desi hip hop has crossed paths with Western hip hop multiple times, notably when musicians from both sides of the world collaborate. American rapper Snoop Dogg has worked with different artists such as rapper Bohemia (rapper),[8] J.Hind and band RDB.[9] Bohemia (rapper) also collaborated with hip-hop artists such as Kurupt,Sean Kingston,Iraj Weeraratne and Baby Bash.The group RDB also worked with different hip hop artists such as T-Pain[10] and Ludacris.[11] In 2016, famous Indian rapper Badshah worked with dancehall musician Sean Paul in a song called "Move Your Body" with DJ Shadow Dubai. Desi rappers born and/or raised in the West have also bridged the cultures within their music, incorporating desi influences into their music. Anik Khan has blended Queens culture with Bengali influences into his music,[12] and similarly rappers Riz MC and Heems of the group Swet Shop Boys incorporate many South Asian influences in their music.[13][14] In 2017, Pakistani rapper Ali Kaz collaborated with famous WWE music producer Jim Johnston for the theme song of WWE wrestler Jinder Mahal.In 2017, Badshah did another international collab with Major Lazer as a commercial promotion of Tuborg Brewery


When Bohemia (rapper) released his fifteenth single "Charso Bees" from the album Da Rap Star where he wrote "Loki bolde ve appa karke vakhaya". Later, on the single "Hummer" from Nishawn Bhullar's album The Folkstars, Honey Singh rapped the verse "Loki bolde ve appa karke vakhaya". This made Bohemia angry and he started dissing Honey Singh at his concerts.[15]

In 2014, Raftaar stated that he was not getting credit for lyrics of the song "Yeh Fugly Fugly Kya Hai".[16]

In 2015, Manj Musik released a song titled "DesiHipHop" on MTV, which upset Bohemia (rapper) who has run into problems with Manj in the past.[17]

In 2016, when Manj Musik posted a picture on Instagram claiming Badshah and Raftaar as the "Desi Hip Hop Kings", he was dissed by J.Hind who referred to Manj Musik as "The Wedding Singer".[18]

Due to the exposure through Bollywood, rap became a household term and an increased production of rap music was observed, especially in the Punjabi music industry.[19] There is an ongoing debate among the hip-hop community about the contribution of Honey Singh to the genre. While some artists including Badshah,[20] Ikka,[21] Deep Money[22] and Manj Musik have acknowledged his contribution to the industry, others like Raftaar,[23] Bohemia[23][15] and Imran Khan[24] have openly denied it. There is also a negative sentiment among some followers of hip-hop culture in India regarding the recent commercialization of the genre.[1][25][26] Even though many fans are not happy with the recent commercialization of hip-hop in India, this commercialization has also led to expansion of the underground scene, with independent artists building a name in Indian hip-hop. Because of this, the future of desi hip-hop is generally perceived to be positive.[1][2]

Notable artistsEdit


Artist Known for Years active
Bohemia Vich pardesa de

Pesa Nasha Pyar

Da Rap Star

Thousand Thoughts

Skull & Bones:The Final Chapter

Raxstar "Ego"

"Brand New Swag"


Badshah "DJ Waley Babu"

"Saturday Saturday"


Kapoor & Sons soundtrack

Yo Yo Honey Singh International Villager

Desi Kalakaar

Yaariyan soundtrack

Kick soundtrack

Riz MC Microscope


"Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)"

Lazarus "Open Heart Surgery"


Heems Nehru Jackets

Wild Water Kingdom

Eat Pray Thug

Raftaar "Swag Mera Desi"

"Desi Hip Hop" "Baby Marwake Manegi"

Fateh Doe Bring It Home 2009–present
Divine "Yeh Mera Bombay"

"Mere Gully Main" "Jungli Sher" "Farak"

Sun J "Seedhe Slum Se"

"Be Aware"

"I Am Hip-Hop"

"Bhaad Mein Jao"


"Son of Jesus"


Brodha V "Aathma Rama"

"Indian Flava" "Aigiri Nandini" "Let Em Talk"

Raja Kumari Change Your Life (Iggy Azalea song)

"Never Give Up" "Mute" "The Come Up(EP)"

Krsna (Rapper) "Kaisa Mera Desh"


"I'm Ready Ft. Raftaar"



Artist Known For Years Active
Khatarnaak Hip-Hop Collective "Chillen Wala Scene"

"Chal Chutiye"

Street Academics "Chatha Kaakka"

"Native Bapa" "16 Adiyanthiram"

Hiphop Tamizha Hip Hop Tamizhan

Meesaya Murukku International Tamizhan

Machas With Attitude Red + Green = Brown

"Making our Money" "Ready Steady Po"

Swet Shop Boys Cashmere

Sufi La



  1. ^ a b c {{cite
  2. ^ a b Mahmood, Rafay. "Bohemia: More than just forties and shorties". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  3. ^ "Bohemia Bio". MTV. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  4. ^ Mehrotra, Palash (12 August 2012). "Indian rap scene: A revolt that will not get televised". India Today. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  5. ^ Kappal, Bhanuj (12 October 2013). "Inside Mumbai's Burgeoning Hip-Hop Scene". The Sunday Guardian. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  6. ^ "Hardik Dave: Real hip hop should come from places like Dharavi". Retrieved 2019-02-04.
  7. ^ "Hip Hop's Evolution in India - Why You Should Care | SXSW 2015 Event Schedule". SXSW Schedule 2015. Retrieved 2019-02-04.
  8. ^ "'Bohemia is my genre of music'". dna. 2006-04-19. Retrieved 2017-08-20.
  9. ^ "Singh Is Kinng soundtrack to feature top international names". Retrieved 2017-08-20.
  10. ^ Pawar, Bhagyashri. "T-Pain and RDB collaborate for Daddy Da Cash". Retrieved 2017-08-20.
  11. ^ "RDB and Ludacris team up for Akshay Kumar's production "Breakaway"". Urban Asian. 2011-07-08. Retrieved 2017-08-20.
  12. ^ "On 'Kites,' rapper Anik Khan wants to share Queens culture with the world". NBC News. Retrieved 2017-08-19.
  13. ^ "Swet Shop Boys: A Discussion on Representation, Politics, and Entertainment". Brown Girl Magazine. 2017-06-14. Retrieved 2017-08-20.
  14. ^ Narayan, Sanjoy (2017-08-10). "Rapping with a subcontinental backbeat". Retrieved 2017-08-20.
  15. ^ a b "Rap or crap? Bohemia hurls abuses and rips apart Yo Yo Honey Singh!". Daily Bhaskar. 3 September 2015. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  16. ^ "Yo Yo caught in a fresh controversy with Punjabi rapper Raftaar". India Today. 8 May 2014. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
  17. ^ "Bohemia Responds to ManjMusik's track "DesiHipHop" - Desi Hip Hop". Desi Hip Hop. Retrieved 2016-03-16.
  18. ^ "Day 2 on J. Hind and Manj Musik 'Beef' Saga - Desi Hip Hop".
  19. ^ "From Bambi Bains to Aman Sandhu: Punjabi musicians talk about their journey". The Times of India. 24 June 2015. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  20. ^ Jones, Raaj. "BADSHAH INTERVIEW @104.8 OYE FM BY RAAJ JONES". Youtube. Oye 104.8 FM. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  21. ^ Jones, Raaj. "IKKA SINGH RARE INTERVIEW (TALKING ABOUT HIS MUSIC & YO YO HONEY SINGH @104.8 OYE FM BY RAAJ JONES". Youtube. Oye 104.8 FM. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  22. ^ Jones, Raaj. "DEEP MONEY - RARE & MUST WATCH INTERVIEW @104.8 OYE FM BY RAAJ JONES". Youtube. Oye 104.8 FM. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  23. ^ a b Batra, Ruhi (15 March 2015). "Honey Singh versus the bitter rest". The Times of India. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  24. ^ "Imran Khan says "I don't even know who Honey Singh is". Satisfya". Youtube. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  25. ^ "Rap is rebel music worldwide, here it's 'pop rap': Badshah". Hindustan Times. 29 July 2015. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  26. ^ "Imran Khan: Rappers are destroying image of Bollywood music". The Times of India. 20 December 2014. Retrieved 14 September 2015.