Yeh gig toh bantai
A crew that is the teen face of Indian hip-hop is celebrating five years of being formed. You are invited
Strike while the iron's hot. That's pretty much what 7Bantai'z did in 2014. Back then, the young rap crew's members were merely a bunch of 14-year-olds studying in a Dharavi school while deciding to dabble in hip-hop music. The genre had just found its feet in India. But it was far from a runaway success. That started changing a year later when a major music company sensed a business opportunity in giving rap music a shot in the arm. Artistes like Divine and Naezy gained the oxygen of publicity. And then the canny marketing team of Gully Boy subliminally put rap in the mainstream consciousness in 2018 with catchy promotional phrases like "Apna time aayega".
And then the canny marketing team of Gully Boy subliminally put rap in the mainstream consciousness in 2018 with catchy promotional phrases like "Apna time aayega". Of course, the film's launch in 2019 made even aunties and uncles fed on a diet of S Balasubramaniam realise that the meaning of "rap" isn't restricted to what they give their kids when they return home with failed grades. So by the time the members of 7Bantai'z had polished their craft to a professional level, they were in a place where they could confidently look forward to a bona-fide career in hip-hop music.
It's a cause for celebration, really, and that's exactly why they are throwing a fifth-anniversary bash this weekend that promises to be a full-blown gully-gang party. It involves a total of 10 acts taking the stage, though some of them aren't what you'd call big-league players yet. Back when 7Bantai'z started out, such a gig would have been inconceivable at the tony Khar venue where it's being held. Crew member David Klyton aka Mr Scam tells us, "At that time, there were artistes like Sean Paul on TV who we found cool. Then we saw a video of [veteran Dharavi outfit] Doepadelicz performing live, which really inspired us. All of it seemed like really fun to listen to. So, we also started writing our own stories on paper. It made us happy when we were angry, you know? We were all from the same hood and would come home from school together, so aise hi we formed a crew. We thought, 'Why don't we try this too?'"
Crucially, Klyton adds that he feels blessed to have joined India's then-fledgling hip-hop movement in 2014. The 19-year-old says, "If you look at the evolution of the genre here from the beginning, it was only after [Divine and Naezy's] Meri Gully Mein in 2015 that there was a bit of hype about the music. But the main turning point was Gully Boy. That's when rap went from underground to mainstream. You know, there are some people from 2009-10 who now think of quitting the scene. They feel like it's too late for them to become relevant anymore. We, on the other hand, are riding the wave that started in 2017-18."
Only time will tell whether that wave rises to the sky or crashes to the ground. Consumerist trends in India can be a fickle beast. But 7Bantai'z, despite their young years, are doing their bit to ensure that hip-hop scales new heights. Consider the fact that four of the 10 names on the line-up for this weekend's bash don't even have their own artiste page on Facebook. "See, we feel that our job now is to bring the future into the forefront. There is an artiste called Lil AM who's a 14-year-old guy. His vocabulary is crazy. At that age, I was spitting nursery rhymes in comparison. But he's not a known name. So even if five to 10 people hear of him because of us, it will be helpful," Klyton says, proving how, having struck the iron while it's hot, 7Bantai'z are now also playing the role of musical blacksmiths giving concrete shape to the evolution of hip-hop in this country.
On November 2, 8 pm
At Above the Habitat, Hotel Unicontinental, 3rd Road, Khar West.
Log on to ticketfairy.com
Entry Rs 250
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