Over the past few months, we’ve been documenting Indian Hip-Hop and condensing that attempt into a Top 40 List is a definitive step for our publication. While we hold an unwavering admiration for the Indian rap scene and its unprecedented growth, we express our sincere concerns over the dearth of female emcees and the lack of representation it ensues. Further, rappers from Southern India continue to face numerous challenges amidst a genre mired by North Indian influences.
Perhaps, this gradual but promising growth will shift towards further inclusion and enable the Indian Hip-Hop industry to have a vivid offering in the coming years. We’re well aware that a Top 40 List is predestined to stir debates. However, to provoke thoughtful discussions and not absolute conclusions is a strong vantage point from which we view our Hip-Hop publication. In fact, the criticisms which may follow will further our goal to encourage diverse public opinion around a historic yet nascent genre of Indian music.
Please check out our list of ‘The 40 Best Rappers in India’ right now.
Dehradun-born fierce emcee and Team Evolution bossman Dakait is solid proof that India’s growing Hip-Hop scene is influencing its youth for the better. Recognised across India for his lyrical prowess, ghetto persona and an unfaltering commitment to stunning rap records, Dakait – real name Saurav Rawat – has swiftly emerged as one of the finest emcees from the Himalayas.
Be sure to listen to some of his ferocious rap records here if you haven’t yet.
39. Sikander Kahlon
Often referred to by his listeners as the ‘King of Mohali’, Sikander Kahlon has worked with some of the finest emcees in India including the late Sidhu Moose Wala, Wazir Patar and India’s Hip-Hop royalty Divine. His signature flows under the ’20XX Flow’ on the first day of the year provide a sound of confidence and fearless bravado. Notably, Kahlon has solidified his position as one of the most consistent Hip-hop artists in the Indian rap scene. With a wide-ranging discography which consists of top-notch bars, ghetto visuals and hard-hitting old-school and trap-influenced beats, Kahlon has made a solid name for himself and is well-respected across India.
Be sure to listen to some of Kahlon’s ferocious rap records here if you haven’t yet.
38. Raja Kumari
California-based Indian emcee and lyricist Raja Kumari – real name Svetha Yallapragada Rao – is a veteran in the rap scene who truly represents India’s strong women with hard-hitting bars. Recognised across the world for her collaborative efforts with Gwen Stefani, Iggy Azalea, Fifth Harmony, Knife Party, Fall Out Boy and the late Hip-Hop superstar Sidhu Moose Wala, Raja Kumari sounds as if she has just started. Kumari remains a true inspiration and exalts massive influence over Indian Hip-Hop even to this day.
It is worthwhile to mention that Kumari was the only female emcee on Sidhu Moose Wala’s iconic ‘Moosetape’ LP. Amidst an album which was largely driven by male emcees, her collaborative effort ‘Us’ with Moose Wala remains the third top-selling rap record from the album after ‘295’ and ‘These Days’ feat. Bohemia. Notably, Raja Kumari’s track ‘City slums’ alongside Gully Gang bossman Divine is a hard-hitting Indian Hip-Hop anthem ever since its release over six years ago.
Listen to some of the biggest rap records by the Queen of Indian rap Raja Kumari here if you haven’t yet.
Few emcees in India have an unapologetically loyal fan base such as Muhfaad. Born in Delhi, Muhfaad – real name Gaurav Pal – has amassed a cult following which always shows up whenever the young emcee drops a rap record. However, it hasn’t been easy for the capital-bred chopper. Muhfaad has a massive discography spanning over thirty tracks and has established himself as one of the finest icons in Indian Hip-hop today. Over the years, Muhfaad hasn’t hesitated in getting involved with career-jeopardising rap rivalries and consistently shifts between independent music and label-backed releases at will.
Be sure to listen to Muhfaad’s riveting rap records here.
36. Vijay DK
With just a handful of songs in his discography, Vijay DK has risen to prominence in India’s underground hip-hop scene. The 21-year-old emcee, who as per many seems to be the protégé of Pune-bred MC Stan, has released some of the wildest independent hits in India. However, it would be an upsetting error to confuse DK’s sound with Stan’s altogether. While the latter has twisted trap, drill and mumble rap at will, the ‘Lockup No4Three’ emcee chooses to stay on drill and wreck it. Yes, you heard it right.
Listen to some of these top-selling rap records here to truly grasp the young rapper’s drill provocation.
While Hip-Hop was taking over Northern India in Punjab, Delhi and Kashmir in the early 2010s, a revolution was brewing in the gullies of Dharavi. The artistic pursuit of Mumbai rap or ‘Bombay rap’ was helmed by a consortium of young rappers under the 7’Bantaiz banner. The group rose to prominence after releasing some of the most authentic records from Mumbai’s burgeoning Hip-Hop scene and established their position as one of the most influential Hip-Hop acts in India.
The ensemble includes Crackpot (Aditya Vhatkar), Yoku BIG (Yogesh Kurme), Lil Damn (Siddesh Jammi), Bonz n Ribz (Nishant Mohite), Mr Scam (David Klyton), and Beat Slayer (Abhishek Kurme). With a vivid discography which cuts across languages – Marathi, Hindi, English & Telugu – 7Bantai’Z joined forces with Dopeadelicz and other crews to form another consortium ‘Dharavi United’.
In December last year, Mumbai’s iconic Hip-Hop act released its latest effort. Titled ‘Into The Slum’ EP, the six-track project features guest appearances by underground emcees and record producers including DRJ Sohail, Captain Fuse and Bunny on ‘Energy’, ‘Whole Squad’, ‘White Collar’, ‘In My Head’, ‘Turn It Up’ and ‘Bambaiya Swad’.
Be sure to check it out here if you haven’t yet.
34. Fotty Seven
If there’s a list of emcees who represent the authentic Hip-Hop sound of NCR – the Indian capital’s cultural centre for music and performing arts from three Northern states – Fotty Seven easily sits at the top. Recognised not just for his music but jolting sarcasm with his fans on social media, Fotty Seven – real name Ankit Gudwani – has stood out and his rap music cuts across listeners in India.
The critically acclaimed emcee and lyricist rose to prominence after releasing numerous hard-hitting bangers, including ‘Boht Tej’ feat. Badshah, ‘Kya Haal Hai Bro?’, ‘Tu Hai Kaun?’ feat. Raga, ‘Abey Yaar’ feat. Bali, ‘You Know The Drill’ feat. Ellde Fazilka and more, in the Indian Hip-Hop scene. With a distinct voice and a groovy pen game, the young emcee is renowned for his catchy hooks and incredible sounds.
Few would disagree that Fotty will never be hated in a genre otherwise mired by graphic lyricism and consistent disses. Be sure to listen to Fotty Seven’s top-selling records here.
You’re probably living under a rock if you haven’t been introduced to Talwiinder’s music yet. The young emcee, who is often seen putting in studio time in California or finding inspiration in Tokyo, draws influences from cults and wants to be one. From his top-selling records to an unusual yet befitting persona which at times resembles Playboi Carti, Talwiinder is one of the most gifted emcees of his generation.
The 27-year-old singer has introduced a whole other vibe to Punjabi music with R&B-influenced psychedelic flows. Apart from a wide discography of solo singles such as ‘Your Eyes’, ‘Nasha’, ‘Tera Saath’ and ‘Gaah’, Talwiinder collaborated with Mumbai-based artist Yashraj on ‘Dhundhla’ which went on to become the top-selling record for both the artists last year.
Listen to Talwiiner’s top-selling records here if you haven’t yet.
32. MC Altaf
Altaf Shaikh, popularly referred to as MC Altaf, emerged as a tall figure in Indian rap with ‘Soch’. However, many people seem to overlook the fact that Altaf carried the Gully Gang label on his back during Divine’s three-year hiatus. Between ‘Punya Paap’ and ‘Gunehgar’, Altaf continued to drop slick bars and served as the bridge between the two Hip-Hop albums. It’s a rarity for an artist to influence the discography of a labelmate in the way Altaf has done. Few would disagree that MC Altaf’s legacy will outlive Gully Gang itself.
Be sure to listen to MC Altaf’s leading rap records here if you haven’t yet.
Just as MC Altaf, Karma has carried Raftaar’s very own Kalamkaar music on his back when the rest of the superstars – Raftaar and Kr$na – briefly stay off the mic. Along with his labelmate Deep Kalsi, Karma redefined Indian choppy flows and has emerged as an influential figure in the Indian Hip-Hop scene. Representing the same city as Team Evolution’s Dakait, Karma seemingly challenges himself and if listened to closely, one would grasp the lyrical turbulence that Karma puts into the mic. Whether it’s Drill or bent 808s, Karma evolves every genre that he touches.
Listen to Karma’s top-selling rap records here if you haven’t yet.
30. Stony Psyko
Stony Psyko – real name Tony Sebastian – built India’s multi-lingual Hip-Hop scene from the ground up. Delivering hard-hitting flows in Hindi, Marathi, English and Tamil himself, Psyko is behind the influential Hip-Hop group ‘Dopadelicz’ from Dharavi, Mumbai. The young emcee formed the crew in 2010 – alongside Dope Daddy and has since joined forces with 7’Bantaiz to expand Dharavi’s Hip-Hop footprint across India. Together, ‘Dopadelicz’ has released some of the most influential underground hip-hop records including ‘Legalize It’, ‘D Rise’, ‘Wake Up’, ‘Kelu’ ‘Vishama’ and more
Listen to Stony Psyko’s top-selling rap records here if you haven’t yet.
Delhi’s top-selling rap scene will be controversially incomplete if Raga’s undeniable influence isn’t counted. A young emcee with solid bars, Raga has built his stature as one of the finest emcees in India. A regular at India’s leading music festivals, Raga is behind some of the most hard-hitting rap records including ‘Sheher’, ‘Badan’, ‘Microphone’ and numerous top-notch singles. Over the years, Raga has turned out to be one of the very few consistent Hip-Hop stars in India. Known for his ferocious lyricism and evocative vocal delivery, the young emcee either releases music or performs it across India.
Listen to Raga’s fierce rap records here if you haven’t yet.
Raf Saperra’s music is inevitably hard to ignore in India right now. Before embarking upon a career as an emcee, Saperra proved his mettle as an iconic filmmaker and directed the ‘Celebrity Killer’ music video by the legendary late emcee Sidhu Moose Wala. However, the Punjabi emcee swiftly released a slew of independent hits last year including ‘Snake Charmer’ and ‘Modern Mirza’. As per many, ‘Modern Mirza’ is Saperra’s most influential independent work yet as the world awaits his debut mixtape ‘Ruff Around The Edges’.
Born in Sarghoda, Pakistan, Saperra presently resides in South London. Owing to his provocative Punjabi voice over hard-hitting record productions inspired by India and Pakistan’s cultural heritage, Saperra’s music is listened to across India today.
Check out Raf-Saperra’s hard-hitting rap records here if you haven’t yet.
27. Sunny Malton
Few emcees were as close to the late Sidhu Moose Wala as Brampton’s Sunny Malton. A close aide of Byg Byrd and the Brown Boys banner, Malton has left a lasting imprint on the Indian rap scene with his lyrical prowess and hard-hitting Compton-influenced rap music. Notably, Malton and Moosewala released their massive collaborative effort ‘Levels’ just four days ahead of the iconic ‘PBX1’ rapper’s death on May 29th 2022. In fact, the two artists have released several hard-hitting records together including ‘Never Fold’, ‘F*** ‘em All’, ‘Youngest in Charge’, ‘Chosen’ and ‘B-Town’. Malton was featured on all of these records.
Check out Malton’s affecting rap records here.
26. Tegi Pannu
Los Angeles, California-based Punjabi Hip-Hop artist Tegi Pannu exalts a crucial influence over Indian Hip-Hop’s international imprint in the west. Recognised for his R&B-influenced Punjabi rap flows over affecting 808s, Pannu levelled up with the release of his debut project ‘Disturbing the Peace’ last year. Ahead of his solo project, the L.A. rapper had already risen to prominence with ‘Into You’ and has delivered some of the finest sounds in Punjabi hip-hop such as ‘Shinin’ and ‘Roll Deep’ featuring Manni Sandhu, ‘Fully Loaded (Majha Background), ‘Schedule’ and ‘Untouchable’.
Check out Tegi Pannu’s leading rap records here if you haven’t yet.
Delhi-based Ikka is a father figure in Hip-Hop and serves as a leading influence for numerous rappers across India. While Ikka – real name Ankit Singh Patial – built a lasting legacy in Indian cinema and played a pivotal role in turning Hip-Hop into the hottest genre in India, he brought together some of the finest young emcees including Raga, Seedhe Maut, Rawal and Hip-Hop heavyweights Raftaar and Badshah on his debut ‘Nishu’ LP. Ikka remains at the centre of Hip-Hop in India. Last year, the iconic emcee dropped one of the finest-sounding hooks in Indian rap music on ‘Woh’ by Dino James and Badshah.
Listen to Ikka’s top-selling rap records here if you haven’t yet.
Through the influential record label for Indian rap music ‘Bantai Records’, Emiway Bantai has been mentoring numerous young emcees and record producers. With a stunning roster of artists including Flowbo, Young Galib, Jaxx and more, Bantai is paving the way for the next generation of Indian emcees.
Shez has swiftly risen to one of the hottest Hip-Hop acts from the label. While the young emcee from Mumbai chooses to stay low-key, his hard-hitting rap music defies Bantai Records’ underlying trap influence and delves into hard-hitting 808s and avant-garde record productions. The young emcee looks set to elevate his stature in Indian Hip-Hop this year with affecting sounds never heard before.
Be sure to listen to Shez’s leading rap records here if you haven’t yet.
23. Encore ABJ
Abhijay Negi – popularly referred to as Encore ABJ – is recognised for his trailblazing choppy flows and his association with Delhi’s iconic Hip-Hop group Seedhe Maut. Having sold out shows across India with Calm, Encore has established his stature as a modern poet who doesn’t just rhyme but prophecise. The young rapper is behind some of the finest rap records by Seedhe Maut including three top-selling LPs and a slew of hard-hitting singles.
Be sure to check out Encore’s leading rap records here if you haven’t yet.
22. Yo Yo Honey Singh
Indian Hip-Hop superstar Yo Yo Honey Singh is often considered the progenitor of South Asian gangsta rap who redefined Indian rap music with his lyrical prowess, uncompromising bars and unruly attitude. To India’s youth, Singh was a cult for the first two decades of the 21st century who paved the way for young rappers from Punjab. While the emcee took a hiatus from Hip-Hop after years of top-selling music, he is slated to return with a full-length studio album this year. Perhaps, the veteran is longing for the top spot in Indian rap music which he himself created in the first place.
Listen to Yo Yo Honey Singh’s top-selling rap records here.
21. Wazir Patar
If Sunny Malton was a close aide to Sidhu Moose Wala, Wazir Patar is his protégé. Patar is one of the most prolific Punjabi Hip-Hop artists in the Indian rap scene and is behind influential rap records including ‘Keep It Gangsta’ EP and a slew of hard-hitting tracks with Sidhu Moosewala including ‘The Last Ride’, ‘Malwa Block’ and ‘GOAT’.
Patar rose to prominence with some of the most influential records in Hip-Hop early on in his career. The young emcee’s breakthrough tracks including ‘Notorious’, ‘WAHZIRINTHEHOOD’ and more established his position as one of the best in the business. Patar has an inborn ability to produce old-school gangsta rap tunes and pit them next to solid ghetto lyricism.
Hanumankind – real name Sooraj Cherukat – has established himself as one of the finest emcees in Indian hip-hop. Recognised for his exceptional lyricism and deftly crafted production, the young Bengaluru-bred emcee recently linked up with Def Jam Recordings India for a hard-hitting rap record ‘GTS’ or ‘Go To Sleep’. After the ‘Damnson’ rapper rose to prominence with his debut ‘Southside’ EP, the ferocious lyricist has released numerous bangers including ‘Genghis’, ‘Southside’, ‘No Hook’, ‘Skyline’ and ‘Rush Hour’.
Be sure to check out Hanumankind’s leading rap records here.
19. Jassa Dhillon
At just 28 years of age, Chandigarh’s Jassa Dhillon has made an incredible name for himself in the Punjabi Hip-Hop scene. Dhillon is one of the very few young emcees from Punjab with features in the UK Asian Music Chart. While several rappers seek to elevate their production by residing in exotic cultural spots for Punjabi rap music including Brampton, Los Angeles and Birmingham, Dhillon has attained a cult following and exalts a similar influence on rap while staying in Northern India. The young debutant from 2019 has numerous singles, an EP and a full-length studio album to his name.
Be sure to listen to Dhillon’s leading rap records here if you haven’t yet.
18. Dino James
Dino James’ stature in Indian rap is eponymous with the pure hustle and a relentless pursuit of ambition. Revered by his fans as a young father figure, James has released top-selling rap records including his debut album ‘D’, ‘Woh’ alongside Badshah & Ikka, ‘Keede’, ‘Girlfriend’ and ‘Hancock’.
Owing to his pensive lyricism and affecting rap music, James was the earliest signee to the iconic Def Jam Recordings India record label. To his fans, James’ music stands out as therapeutic and deft. Last year, besides releasing some of the finest rap records in Indian Hip-Hop, the ‘Chosen’ emcee mentored the next generation of rappers on MTV Hustle.
Listen to Dino James’ biggest rap records here via Spotify.
Six years ago, few would’ve thought that a young emcee from Delhi will represent the hottest Hip-Hop act in India. Calm – real name Siddhant Sharma – is recognised as a rap trailblazer with ferocious rhyme schemes and lyrical prowess. Part of the highly coveted Seedhe Maut besides Encore ABJ, Calm’s passive-aggressive vocal delivery contrasts his uber-cool persona and deep-rooted respect for his fans. Together with Encore, the ‘Nevermind’ rapper has sold out clubs and arenas across India.
Listen to Calm’s hard-hitting rap records here.
16. Hip-Hop Tamizha
If there’s one emcee who has achieved the stardom equivalent of a South Indian Cinema superstar, it is Tamizha. Starting out as South India’s iconic Tamil rap act under the ‘Hip-Hop Tamizha’ banner in 2011, Tamizha has released a full-length Tamil rap LP, an EP and numerous singles over the years. Tamizha is one of the very few Hip-Hop acts in India which have a massive influence over Tamil & Telugu cinema.
Listen to Hip-Hop Tamizha’s leading rap records here if you haven’t yet.
15. AP Dhillon
AP Dhillon released his breakthrough single ‘Brown Munde’ amidst a world mired by the coronavirus pandemic and hardly any affecting music around at the time. While several artists across the world struggled to find inspiration, Dhillon delivered an unprecedented Hip-Hop hit which remains at the centre of Punjabi Hip-Hop even today. The rap record became a flex for the Indian diaspora across the globe and Dhillon, along with his friends and confidantes in rap music – Gurinder Gill, GMINXR and Shinda Kahlon, became a worldwide superstar.
The young emcee who often tours the U.S., Canada and India and hangs around global rap superstars including Quavo, Nas and Nav, was listened to over a billion times last year. His debut album ‘Not By Chance’ and ‘Two Hearts Never Break The Same’ are two of the biggest Indian Hip-Hop records ever sold in recent times.
Be sure to check out AP Dhillon’s deftly curated music here.
14. Channi Nattan
Many of you must remember Channi Nattan’s sick rap record ‘Daku’. Few would disagree that Nattan, alongside Inderpal Moga, rapped over Drake’s ‘Money In The Grave’ with an unmatched suave. As per many, Nattan took the CC on The Track-led production and made it his own. Often surrounded by foreign cars, drip and Prada t-shirts, Nattan is one of the biggest Punjabi Hip-Hop emcees in the world right now. His flamboyant lifestyle is often the subject of discussion on social media.
Check out Channi Nattan’s leading rap records here if you haven’t yet.
Indian emcees usually don’t bother to flex, stunt and even subliminally diss each other over a rap record… unless it’s Kr$na. Last year, the ‘No Cap’ rapper made two things extremely clear – first, it would be a foul decision to diss him (even subliminally) and second, for Kr$na, disses are about longevity and not short-lived hype. Kr$na continues to diss Mumbai’s Emiway Bantai even to this day and has destroyed rap careers one single at a time.
However, Kr$na hasn’t made this list just because of his turbulent lyrical gestations. The emcee has led Indian Hip-Hop from the front and made his way to the top after years of exhausting hustle. Notably, he is one of the very few rappers who didn’t get usurped by commercial Indian cinema in recent years. The Dollar Sign Thrives.
Listen to Kr$na’s top-selling rap records here via Spotify.
12. Gurinder Gill
Punjabi Hip-Hop’s leading emcee and record producer Gurinder Gill shot to worldwide fame with ‘Brown Munde’ alongside AP Dhillon. Produced by GMINXR, ‘Brown Munde’ established Dhillon as one of the biggest voices in Indian rap. However, as per many, it was Gurinder Gill who led the insane popularity of the track by dropping slick verses and incredible rhyme schemes. Gurinder Gill has toured across the U.S., Canada, Australia and India with his ‘Brown Munde’ crew that includes AP Dhillon, GMINXR and Shinda Kahlon.
Listen to Gurinder Gill’s immensely popular rap records here.
11. Emiway Bantai
Mumbai’s Emiway Bantai barely needs much introduction. A fiercely independent artist since the start of his rap career, Bantai has influenced and elevated Indian rap like no other. While his career had a rough start following a beef with Raftaar and MC Stan, Bantai bounced back and released some of the biggest Indian rap records including ‘Company’, ‘Machayenge’, ‘F*** Emiway’, ‘Kr L$da Sign’ and ‘Malum Hai Na’ album.
Besides releasing top-selling rap music himself, the young emcee runs his own Hip-Hop label ‘Bantai Records’. With a stunning roster of artists including Flowbo, Young Galib, Jaxx, Shez and more, Bantai is paving the way for the next generation of Indian emcees.
Listen to Emiway Bantai’s hard-hitting rap records here if you haven’t yet.
Many know Raftaar – real name Dilin Nair – as a veteran Hip-Hop emcee, a cult figure in rap music business mogul. While the rapper is at the forefront of Indian Hip-Hop with his remarkable discography and the Kalamkaar Music imprint, it’s noteworthy to point out his influence in the rap scene when the genre barely even took shape. Raftaar laid the foundation for Indian Hip-Hop’s most coveted group ‘Mafia Mundeer’ in 2010.
A modern-day equivalent of Brown Boys Crew which consists of Punjabi Hip-Hop pioneer Byg Byrd, Sunny Malton and the late Sidhu Moose Wala, ‘Mafia Mundeer’ recruited Badshah, Ikka and Yo Yo Honey Singh as freshmen. Rest is history as we know it. An inspiration for India’s youth, Raftaar’s discography ranges from braggadocious choppy flows to self-absorbing flexes alongside his Kalamkaar labelmate Kr$na.
Check out Raftaar’s recent top-selling EP ‘Hard Drive Vol. 1’ here.
9. Big Boi Deep
If there’s one Punjabi Hip-Hop artist who can outlive Sidhu Moose Wala’s evocative vocal delivery, it has to be the iconic Jalandhar-born Mandeep Singh – popularly referred to as Big Boi Deep. A gangsta rap pioneer and the frontman of Brampton’s Brown Boys Crew alongside Sunny Malton and Byg Byrd, Deep’s lyrical prowess and vocal impact have turned him into a Punjabi Hip-Hop mainstay.
Sidhu Moose Wala would often establish his authority over a rap record with the first verse. However, his earliest foray into gangsta rap was assisted by a thundering intro verse by Deep on ‘Homicide’. Since then, Big Boi Deep has largely remained an underdog who chooses to stay immensely authentic and releases rap at will.
Be sure to listen to Big Boi Deep’s affecting gangsta rap records here if you haven’t yet.
King’s stage name is synonymous with his place in Indian rap. A modern rap pioneer who switches genres at will, King – real name Arpan Kumar Chandel – performed across India last year. Yes, that was just LAST YEAR. While emcees and record producers were pumping out rap records, King was already way ahead of them.
With a top-selling album ‘Champagne Talk’ to his name, King navigated his career towards massive live sets which included an India tour and an opening set for Hip-Hop superstar Post Malone. However, ‘Pablo’ hasn’t stopped touring just yet. King is slated to perform at the iconic Wireless Festival in Abu Dhabi on March 11th 2023. The legendary rapper and singer will join Travis Scott, Lil Uzi Vert, India’s rap royalty and Gully Gang bossman Divine and Young Stunners.
Listen to King’s iconic rap records here if you haven’t yet.
Mumbai-born Divine is perhaps the biggest influence on Indian rap right now. The young rapper from one of Mumbai’s poorest neighbourhoods in Andheri East has risen to global stardom. After his life story was adopted by Zoya Akhtar for her Academy Award-nominated Original Motion Picture ‘Gully Boy’, Divine released some of the biggest rap albums in India – ‘Kohinoor’, ‘Punya Paap’ and ‘Gunehgar’. After Sidhu Moose Wala and India’s global Hip-Hop superstar Badshah, Divine is perhaps the only Indian rapper to collaborate with global Hip-Hop acts including Nas, Dave East, Dutchavelli, Jadakiss, Russ and Armani White.
Listen to Divine’s everlasting rap records here.
Delhi-born Badshah – real name Aditya Prateek Singh Sisodia – is recognised across the globe for his avant-garde mega-successful career in Indian rap music. Starting out as one of the finest emcees with ‘Mafia Mundeer’, the ‘3:00 AM Sessions’ rapper has built his career from the ground up and is truly a global superstar. Few would disagree that Badshah’s music is an extraordinary documentation of longevity and distinctive relevance.
While Indian emcees often collaborate with international acts, Badshah laid the solid ground for that. Last year, the iconic emcee released ‘Voodoo’ alongside Latin Hip-Hop & Pop superstar J Balvin and Atlanta’s ‘Drip Too Hard’ emcee Lil Baby. Indian rap has never stayed the same ever since. A global trendsetter and a true visionary, Badshah comes and goes at will.
Be sure to check out Badshah’s everlasting rap records here if you haven’t yet.
5. Diljit Dosanjh
Jalandhar-born Diljit Dosanjh’s stardom is so massive, he can sell out stadiums across the U.S., U.K. and Canada whenever he chooses to. A veteran of Indian Hip-Hop, Rap and R&B, Dosanjh has released over 16 full-length albums. While he started out his career with Punjabi Folk and Pop music, Dosanjh swiftly proved his mettle in Hip-Hop and R&B over the years.
However, Dosanjh’s tryst with genre-bending records never takes a backseat. The ‘GOAT’ could be at the helm of Punjabi commercial cinema all summer and drop a full-blown R&B record in autumn. Dosanjh closed off last year with the ‘Drive Thru’ EP and a world tour during which he performed from Los Angeles, California to Jaipur, Rajasthan. The Punjabi emcee is now gearing up for his 17th album this year and his debut at the Coachella Festival alongside Bad Bunny, Frank Ocean, Pusha T and more.
Listen to Diljit Dosanjh’s highly influential rap records here.
Punjab-born Brampton-based Shubh is one of the hottest voices in Indian rap right now. Shubh has swiftly risen to global stardom with just six singles – ‘We Rollin’, ‘Baller’, ‘Elevated’, ‘No Love’, ‘Offshore’ and ‘Her’ – and that too without features. While young emcees tend to flex and drop consistent singles out of desperation after that one big hit or fall-off, Shubh chooses to plot his way to the top with suave.
Shubh’s brief discography has been streamed over a billion times across platforms and has established his stature as one of the finest to ever do it. His independent single ‘Baller’ easily charted on the Billboard Hot 100 Canada upon its release and paved the way for his extraordinary rap career. Nobody knows where Shubh is heading towards or perhaps, it’s hard to guess when he stops. At just 25, Shubh has definitely made one thing clear – if it’s a billion with just six rap records, Shubh can be the new ‘Baller’ of global Hip-Hop by 2030.
Listen to Shubh’s wildly successful tracks here.
3. Sidhu Moose Wala
Sidhu Moose Wala’s legacy in Punjabi rap music has certainly outlived himself. A young tall figure who started out with folk-inspired ‘G Wagon’ in 2017, Moose Wala swiftly shifted gears and went on to pioneer gangsta rap at the mere age of 25. Supported by his longtime collaborators and friends Byg Byrd, Sunny Malton and Big Boi Deep, Moose Wala redefined Punjabi rap music and influenced it at an unprecedented scale.
Releasing his debut LP ‘PBX1’ the same year, Moose Wala continued to elevate his sound and went from a vicious young emcee to an all-out King of Indian rap music at lightspeed with ‘Moosetape’. Few would’ve thought that a young rapper from Mansa, Punjab would turn out to be a Hip-Hop pioneer within three years. Even after his ill-fated gunning down on May 29th 2022, Moose Wala is still remembered across the world for his affecting rap music and fearless lyricism. Some of his biggest records include ‘295’, ‘So High’, ‘The Last Ride’, ‘Same Beef’, ‘These Days’ and ‘Moosedrilla’.
The most feared, the highly respected Moose Wala’s massive rap records can be listened to here.
2. MC Stan
Altaf Shaikh – popularly known as MC Stan – is perhaps the biggest name in Indian Hip-Hop right now. Stan’s biggest break arrived with ‘Astagfirullah’. The hard-hitting self-reflective record portrayed Stan’s immense talent and manifested street rap at its finest. Caught amidst the infamous beef between Kalamkaar’s bossman Raftaar and Emiway Bantai in 2018, the young emcee used their popularity to let people know that he must be taken seriously as an artist.
If AP Dhillon amassed global recognition with ‘Brown Munde’, for Stan, 2020 was the definitive year in his career too. Stan has breathed a new life into Indian rap music with the release of ‘Dil Pe Mat Le’. ‘Hosh Mei Aa’, ‘Ek Din Pyar’, ‘307’, ‘Numberkari’ and ‘Amin’. However, ‘Astaghfirullah’ furthered Stan’s influence and turned him into a new-age rockstar of rap.
Listen to Stan’s trailblazing rap records here if you haven’t yet.
1. Karan Aujla
It would be a travesty to overlook Indian rap music’s very own ‘Geetan Di Machine’. At just 26 years of age, Karan Aujla has become the stunner of Punjabi rap music across the globe. Whether it’s releasing some of the most influential Hip-Hop records of all time or placing massive bets on Stake, the emcee does very big things with ease. Amidst establishing his untouchable stature in global Hip-Hop, Aujla can be spotted copping LVs, Amiri and Birkin in Los Angeles or performing a sold-out show at the iconic Wembley.
Aujla isn’t heard, he is revered for his music. When the young rapper drops, even the top-selling rappers step back and undeniably follow his lead. It truly is ‘Game Over’ for Punjabi Hip-Hop artists while Aujla carries the rap game on his back. The ‘Gangsta’ emcee dissed the legendary Sidhu Moose Wala early on in his career and Moose Wala responded with even fierce rap records. However, when ‘Moosedrilla’ stopped after a rift with Goldy Brar which resulted in the infamous murder of Moosewala, Aujla gave the late artist his flowers.
Karan Aujla was born in Ludhiana, Punjab on January 18th 2022 and started his musical career in 2016 with his debut single ‘Property of Punjab’. The young emcee hasn’t looked back ever since and has reached unprecedented stardom over the years. Property of Punjab’ left little room for doubting his pensive lyricism and an inherent capability to release hard-hitting rap records. Produced by the iconic Punjab Hip-Hop producer Deep Jandu, the single set the stage for a slew of influential records by the young artist.
While ‘Property of Punjab’ drew heavy influences from Punjabi Folk music, Aujla quickly embarked upon Punjabi rap tunes and ghetto Hip-Hop verses. Some of the earliest rap songs by Aujla include ‘Black Money’, ‘Shit Talk’, ‘Maybach’, ‘No Need’, ‘Expensive’, ‘Yaarian Ch Medal’ and more.
Aujla continued to deliver various hit records over the years. However, his stardom went global when his rap records began getting listed on the Billboard Hot 100 Canada chart. Owing much to the global recognition of Punjabi Hip-Hop through Sidhu Moose Wala, Prem Dhillon and Diljit Dosanjh’s hit music, Aujla swiftly rose to become the next global voice of Punjabi rap.
Aujla decided to establish his place in Indian Hip-Hop with the release of ‘Way Ahead’ EP. The five-track project features some of the biggest rap records by a Punjabi artist including ‘Ooouu’, ‘They Know’, ‘Game Over’, ‘Unreachable’ feat. Ikka and ‘Gangsta’ feat. Compton’s YG. Most recently, Aujla featured on Badshah’s global hit ‘Players’ and released ‘Four You’ EP with Ikky. The latest project features four top-notch bangers – 52 Bars’, ‘Take It Easy’, ‘Fallin Apart’ and ‘Yeah Naah’.
Be sure to listen to Aujla’s recent EP ‘Four You’ here if you haven’t yet.