RadioandMusic
| 27 May 2019
Not just a jukebox of performers: 101India’s Hip Hop Homeland 2016 review

MUMBAI: Ever since the youth portal 101India came into sincere attention in the music community, the entity has explored its options of delivering consistent content without the much-needed financial backing from any sponsor or brand. In 2016 India, that’s not rare, but it surely does come out as an encouraging factor – once again to those artists seeking platforms to express what is truly theirs.

For example on the music front, Kashmiri rapper MC Kash fought a lonely battle for painfully long period of time, and although his efforts were acknowledged and noticed in the valley, 101India surely accelerated his outreach to an audience that avoids steering out of comfort zone to seek new sounds or music. MC Kash’s appearance for 101India’s initiative snowballed into another lonely battle for the rapper, but now the media and the audience wants to know his next step. In a way, the Managing Director of 101India, Cyrus Oshidar counts that element as one way to define the portal’s success.

In its latest effort, 101India extended its property ‘Hip Hop Homeland’ to the North East, the region in India which always received divided attention towards its causes. After successfully exploring the West and North (to a certain extent) in its own terms, Hip Hop Homeland continued its experimentation with a genre commercially exploited in a region that is politically isolated. “101India has carried out the property geographically. West (or Mumbai) had a different issue to talk about, and North East has its own issues. The musicians featured in the ‘Hip Hop Homeland North East’ focused on AFSPA, isolation and so on so forth. They had a voice, we simply provided them a platform,” said Oshidar.

Although the shooting for the edition took six days, the plans and implementation were orchestrated soon after the conclusion of the West edition. “The videos uploaded now were shot earlier this year. We were just looking for associates and partners to team up for its release,” informed Oshidar. For Hip Hop Homeland’s North East edition, it was vital to let a recognised rapper host the show, however as Oshidar added, “we also wanted someone who would be an outsider while interviewing the underground musicians.” Similar to every DIY ‘minus the PR machinery or corporate sponsor’ effort, the latest Homeland edition – although attracted eyeballs, thanks to the previous edition – had to follow a similar approach to create a buzz.

What helped the North East edition is the series of unique stories revolving around every hip hop crew and rappers involved (also, apparently the youngest rapper in the country – Larilang Shanpru (Symphonic Movement)). The rapper’s vocals can be heard in the Anthem for the North East (the final collaboration between the featured artists for the edition) as the ‘hook’ for the song. Compared to the West edition, the North East rappers seemed outspoken, aggressive in their tone, politically unsatisfied and incorrect and more importantly, reflected the essence of underground hip-hop.

Although with the arrival of Channel V and streaming service Saavn as associates for this edition, Hip Hop Homeland North East’s featured musicians surely would enjoy a wider outreach compared to the fellow rappers from the West or North. “The association will help our outreach too, in terms of expanding the platform,” added Oshidar, who reminded that neither the portal nor the property is a commercial enterprise. “We have been doing it all ourselves. It’s strange that although everyone has appreciated the effort and the outcome of the Homeland property, no one wants to support it financially. Perhaps, it’s the content or the ideology that travels with underground scene that drives them away.”

In the two Hip Hop Homeland editions, team 101India knew the story they wanted to share, and that essentially helped them in narrowing down the artistes for the respective regions. “We haven’t edited a single word. In both cases, one can sense that the artists and their fans have perceived the initiative more than just music; it has in fact, to a certain extent, become an identity,” said Oshidar.

Music, albeit extremely instrumental, only covered only a portion of 101India’s 2016’s unique offerings. The year began with Hip Hop Homeland live gig in Mumbai’s antiSocial that turned into a gathering for almost every hip hop fan across ages in the city. “Of course, the plan is to execute such more gigs throughout the country. The logical next step would be to extend the existing property Hip Hop Homeland to Punjab and South,” replied Oshidar, answering the property’s 2017 plans.

Oshidar informed that 101India’s ultimate task is to provide a platform for underground community and not be a “mere jukebox of performers.” What has not changed for Oshidar, 101India and independent initiatives in general is the lack of financial support for sustainability and more creativity, and the founder of the portal continues to lament the unfortunate fact. “Wisdom is coming slowly though,” concluded Oshidar.