Rapping the street life

Rapping the street life

Rapping the street life
Hip hop musician Divine, who raps about his life on the streets of Mumbai, is all set for his second single release, ‘Jungli Sher’.

The first Indian artiste to make a worldwide debut on Apple Music, he is the child of the various gullies in the city that never sleeps. In a chat with Ananya Revanna, he talks about his childhood, his name and his inspirations.

Tell us a little about your new release, ‘Jungli Sher’.It is a mix of English andHindi — the concept is to rap in ‘Hinglish’ as everyone understands it. The lyrics is about me and the people around me. Everyone has an animal in them and I understood the difference in people and wrote the lyrics.

The video was shot on an iPhone6...

It was production designer Vandana Kataria’s idea. She was taken by my music and that helped her plan the entire look and feel of the video. It was shot in 43 locales over 4 days in Mumbai and I am sure it will connect with audiences worldwide.

What attracted you to hip hop culture?

It was interesting when I first heard someone rap because there are so many words used in one song and it shocked me when rappers spoke very fast — in 3 minutes, they’d say 200 lines! That’s was made me write, in 2nd year of college, and I realised that I could do this in Hindi as well. I learnt to write about myself and the people around me; hip hop comes from the streets and that struck me as that’s where I’m from.

Why ‘Divine’?

When I first started writing, I’d write gospel rap, something which is unique and has a very different style. Also god has always given me a lot of strength and that makes me think if I call myself ‘Divine’, I will live up to it!  

Your stories of the streets...

I was born in Kurla, Mumbai and I stayed with my mother until I was 3 years old. She had to leave for a job abroad so my brother and I then moved to my father’s house in Sahar (Andheri). But when I was in 6th standard our father decided to leave us (for no reason). That’s when we moved to my grandmother’s place in JB Nagar (Andheri) and that’s where I live now. You have to be aware of your surrounding, only you can choose how to get past struggles, whether it’s crime or music.

Worst memory of the streets...

I missed my parents constantly. I would see other kids with their parents and I was always alone. Even if it was a small scuffle, I had no one to call or go to; I always had to stand up for myself.

Best memory...

I still have the same friends that I had when I was in 7th standard. They are more like family to me; that’s when I understood that blood makes you related to someone but loyalty makes you family!

How did you ‘get off’ the streets?

I am still there.

What do you aspire to?

I don’t aspire to be like the commercial rappers, I want to stay true to myself. It’s really me that I’m put into the song.

Music you listen to...

I listen to all kinds. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Kendrik Lamar. And I was influenced by a lot of people — Nas, Tupac, Bob Marley… They spoke with their hearts and not their minds.

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