Divine is hitting TimeOut72. Are you? Image: Facebook/ Divine
Desi rapper extraordinaire and Gully Boy Divine is a name you need on your playlist — and your ever-expanding pop culture radar. The hip-hop sensation is so much more than just a musical talent. Divine, whose real name is Vivian Fernandez, grew up in a Mumbai slum, and actually sings about it. The Gully Boy has made the gully his own, in a real way, and has brought the underground hip-hop scene into focus like never before. He made some record-breaking music, collaborated with Nucleya and Grammy nominee Raja Kumari, appeared on the BBC Asian Radio Network. And now, he has a Bolllywood film coming out, which is partially based on his life, and stars Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt.
And something tells us Divine's success is not just a divine stroke of luck.
"It's great to see hip-hop becoming more prominent in India but we have a long way to go," Divine tells T2 Online. "We have a lot of new festivals in India now and with festivals like NH7 Weekender going to smaller cities we can expect the indie scene to grow," adds the hip-hop icon, whose latest project Suede Gully made some major waves. The street art collab brought together dancers, graffiti artists, rappers, and several other names to create a multi-city, multilingual phenomena.
Divine started his career in 2011, and won an award for Best Video for his number Yeh Mera Bombay, from Rolling Stone India. His number Mere Gully Mein, in collaboration with Naezy, saw immense traction, and went on to become a viral sensation. The number actually has the Bandra Boy paying homage to the gullies of Mumbai where he grew up, and is often hailed as a true desi underground anthem. Interestingly, Divine started out with English rap, but soon shgifted to rapping in Hindi.
"People like Divine who are talking about the gully and growing up without a father, and not just sitting in a Mercedez Benz — that is hip-hop," Grammy nominee Raja Kumari told T2 Online recently. Her collab with Divine, called City Slums, went on to become a major success, and has garnered 3.5 million views on YouTube.
"I made my mom watch Divine's videos, and I told her, 'Look mom, it's happening there. People are making real music," Raja Kumari added. The 'real music' obviously refers to how authentic and close to home Divine's hip-hop really is.
The rapper's story — the story of the first true desi hip-hop icon — obviously deserves a closer look. Zoya Akhtar's Gully Boy, featuring Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt is based on the lives of Divine, and fellow desi rapper Naezy. The film will reportedly revolve around the chawls of Mumbai, and the underground rap movement, which has quietly been growing in the streets.
"Hip-hop has been around in India for a long time but mostly underground. This film might help it bring to the mainstream audience," Divine tells us. The rapper is working on his new single One Side and his collaboration with Nucleya for Anurag Kashyap's Mukkabaaz, which releases early next year. And we for one, cannot wait for more Divine action.