Diss track hits India as Mumbai underground rapper Emiway takes on Raftaar
Diss rap just found its India moment with a scrap between underground rapper Emiway and commercial hit Raftaar breaking the Internet
When Eminem came out with his surprise album, Kamikaze, in September this year, he had a diss track on it. Called Not Alike, it spoke of a rapper caller Machine Gun Kelly (MGK). "And I'm talking to you, but you already know who the f**k you are, Kelly/I don't use sublims and sure as f**k don't sneak-diss/But keep commenting on my daughter Hailie."
MGK wasn't to be left behind, and released Devil Rap as a reply to Eminem's dig: "I think my dad's gone crazy, yeah, Hailie, you right", referring to Eminem's daughter.
On September 25, this prompted Eminem to release Killshot, another response to MGK, which became the largest debut of a hip-hop song in YouTube history. In other words, a fight between two rappers, gave rap fans across the world one new song after another, and lifted the diss track genre to new heights.
Closer home, we are experiencing our own drama. It all started last week when rapper Raftaar said in an interview that there was no money to be made in underground rapping. He named Emiway, a 22-year-old Mumbai rapper, implying that he was just about surviving. He did follow it up saying, one day, Emiway will build his own empire.
Santhanam Srinivasan, aka EPR
On October 12, Emiway released a diss track called Samajh Mein Aaya Kya, where he said, "Maangne ko paisa mein ghar tere aya kya... Maine janta kamaya chote, samajh mein aaya kya (Have I come to your house to ask you for money? I have earned fans, little one)." The fans went crazy, and so did the rap community. A young underground rapper had just called out a hitmaker.
Raftaar did what any self-respecting rapper would do. On October 26, he released his own diss track called Sheikh Chilli, where he said, "Tu hoga high mera bhai, jo jo tune sunke interview akal nahin chalai (You must be high, because you haven't used your mind, while listening to the interview)." On October 31, Emiway's comeback was called Giraftaar. When we spoke to Emiway, the man in the middle of the storm, he said he was using "diss" the way it was meant to be used - "gaane ke zariye se jawab diya (I gave an answer through music)".
The 22-year-old from Wadala, who makes music at his underground studio and shoots videos that are flavourful of the city, says rap is the only way he knows how to express himself. "What got me upset was that Raftaar commented on whether I was making money. I am an independent rapper, and all my followers are organic. When someone like him says that, it affects my fans. They asked me, 'why is he saying you make no money?'"
Kolkata rapper and vocalist for Underground Authority, Santhanam Srinivasan Iyer, aka EPR, says he views the scuffle in a positive way. "If it includes two high quality rappers fighting it out lyrically, only hip-hop wins." Interestingly, EPR, as a part of Adiacot music, released the diss track, Gully Mein Apne Kutta Bhi Sher Hai, talking about Gully Gang rapper Divine, and Emiway, on September 4 this year. He says all they wanted to do was ruffle some feathers. "We wanted to say, do something different, stop bragging about yourself. Neither Emiway or Divine replied!"
For him though, the fact that Indian diss is already trending is nothing, but a good development. "Isn't it better we talk about Emiway and Raftaar rather than Eminem and MGK?" he asks. In Mumbai, rapper Ace from Mumbai's Finest says that battle rap culture has been around for a while. "But when people like Raftaar, who garner such high numbers, start talking about it, it comes into the mainstream, and people start embracing it."
Like EPR, he believes that it's only hip-hop that is gaining when rappers indulge in lyrical competition. "It's so entertaining. When someone like Raftaar replies to an underground artist like Emiway, he bridges the gap between underground and commercial rap. That's commendable." For now, Emiway has decided to focus on his upcoming album, and says his last song was just a way to say "hathapai mat karo, song ke zariye baat karo (Let's not fight and talk it out through music)." And so, the ball lies in Raftaar's court, who refused to comment for this article because he was travelling.
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