From Yo Yo To Badshah: The Indian Rap Debate

Not so long ago, Yo Yo Honey Singh was the person to go to for Indian filmmakers from top seeds like Shahrukh Khan and Karan Johar to make their films an easy take for Yo Yo-crazy audience.

Shahrukh Khan with Chennai Express and Akshay Kumar with Singh Is Bling and Boss among other heroes ‘pampered’ Yo Yo for hit tracks to add some extra crores in box office revenues.

Besides films, Sonakshi Sinha who occasionally dons Yankees improvisations of rap moguls to channel her love for the hip hop culture also worked with Yo Yo in a video of his hit track. Presumably, Yo Yo was the guy to go to and India’s very own rap mogul not so long ago.

Tables have turned.

Badshah, a Yo Yo friend and a fall-out later is now the go-to Bollywood-style rapper for Karan Johar and by KJo it is meant here, Hindi film industry.

A Chandigarh man has taken over what a fellow Chandigarian once had. The contracts, the tracks, the films and most importantly, the speed-dials of celebrities.

Is Badshah channelling @HIMANSHU of SwetShopBoys here in his new Mercy video or no? 

And if you dispute that, guess who took the time to promote the new single of Badshah titled ‘Mercy’ on Twitter? The man of the business, Karan Johar.

While we are at it, groove on it, like I do, because it is worth it…

15million hits on YouTube in less than three days? Tables have turned.

In an interview with Anupama Chopra over a year ago on Star World, Yo Yo made Anu shake a leg on one of his songs after a detailed discussion over his songs either being family friendly or an ugly blotch on culture.

During the interview, Yo Yo explained the kind of love he and his songs get and complained that (I dare use the word) ‘non-vulgar’ tracks of his never found their due share.

Anupama contested that his songs were un-family-friendly and how she choose to refer was ‘vulgar’.

In defense, Yo Yo said that songs about national heroes did not grow on Indian youth and it is not that he did not try his hand at those; songs that do not have the ‘masala’ do not get eyeballs.

Blue eyes hypnotise teri kr di ay menu, I swear choti dress mein bomb lagdi ay meinu,” Anu read the lyrics and expected Yo Yo to comment or if he was comfortable, explain!

The Chandigarh rapper brought up with middle-class sensibilities defended by singing an old classic whose lyrics hint at a lover giving his ‘pyaar ka nazrana’ to his beloved in the night. Yo Yo questioned the man’s motives by asking Anu to explain to him what kind of homage is this that is bound by the time? Why specifically night? He asked, hinting shady mind of a lyricist’s at work.

However, the point being, Yo Yo received constant criticism for his work that was termed vulgar by a large section of India irrespective of the fact, they might be grooving to the songs and videos on their own time.

In this scenario comes another Chandigarh boy who initially referred to himself as ‘Cool Equal’ to later change it to Badshah and wins the charts, the clubs, the everything without even a hint of vulgarity debate chasing him down.

He was first established as a rapper and a musician with ‘Khoobsurat’ hit track ‘Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai’.

This ‘Mercy’ song that has everyone gushing about it is a track that does not channel conventional Badshah but someone who has his music variations.

In an interview with Rajeev Masand this week on CNN-IBN, Badshah was questioned about what next in terms of video? Given that one of his earlier music videos had a big truck that left people reveling in its majesty, never explored before by Indians in their tracks. And this time with ‘Mercy’ he is standing on a bloody aircraft, like what is coming up after that?

Karan Johar, Badshah, Shekhar Ravjiani of Vishal-Shekhar pose for a photo after wrapping up the first season of a StarPlus talent show called ‘Dil Hai Hindustani’ (Source: @karanjohar)

The truck:

Coming back to the vulgarity (God I hate to use that word) debate, Badshah has led the way for a generation of rap underdogs that tells them that Yo Yo’s rap is not the only direction to go. It is music. Play with it in your studios and at your Macs, (Quick trivia: Yo Yo has made a lot of his songs while on flights on his Mac, that is his professed studio, yep… just a Mac) and you don’t need to borderline ‘vulgarity debate’ (arrghhhhhh) to be a rapper.

Vodka, choti dress, bomb and other such words that are taken an objection to by a section of people do not define what rap is but are a way of going about it.

Badshah is new, fresh and his videos are kickass, period.

I’d watch Badshah standing on a plane’s wing with Lauren Gottlieb any day over Yo Yo’s tharey-wali-lyrics and desi blondes.

P.S. Badshah also has sung songs like ‘Proper Patola’ but like I said, he manages to stay classy.

To close off on a mundane level, Aditya Prateek Singh Sisodiya aka Badshah is a married man who recently became a father of a baby girl whom he raps to before bed. A man whose parents were once worried about his career and livelihood until he brought home a BMW to rest all the worries making a statement that he will survive… (ahem ahem).

Another trivia in mind. A recent track of the man titled ‘Move Your Lakk’ for which he collaborated with Diljit Dosanjh and Sonakshi was supposed to be a ‘Phillauri’ song but was not deemed appropriate to the script and was shelved only to be brought in for Sinha’s ‘Noor’ based on ‘Karachi You’re Killing Me’ by Sama Imtiaz.


We don’t think you’d have to wait for long now for anything…

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