This isn't just a music video – it's an invitation to walk in their shoes.
'Unity In Diversity' gets a badass makeover with the brand new video that's come out today. Suede Gully is the largest collaboration, to date, of rappers, dancers and street artists, who have been brought together by Puma to celebrate their iconic suede sneakers. It is a coming out anthem where the Indian street culture finds expression through the swag of hip hop.
Drawn from the fast evolving desi hip hop scene, the video features 8 rappers, 4 b-boy crews and 7 artists representing their gully-swag in a slick production across different streets from Mumbai to Madurai via Delhi and Shillong.
Desi hip hop's new anthem
The video begins fittingly in Mumbai — the beating heart of desi hip hop. Divine, the most well-known of the rappers in the video, sets off the song with a braggadocio verse inside a local train covered in graffiti: “Kaun aaya? Bole Hindi rap ka Tupac hai, sab rapper chup chap hai, game pura sunsaan hai… jungle raj jungle rules jungli sher mein, Virar local flow, baith ja meri rail mein.”
If that doesn't set the tone, then, the fast edits, low camera angles, b-boys showing off their kicks, definitely will. The chorus (mere jootein mein toh chal ke toh dekh, zameen aasman mein farak toh dekh) over a shehnai-esque hook will certainly get your head bopping; courtesy the much admired Sneha Khanwalkar, who has produced the track.
From this beginning, the chorus and hook introduced, the video shifts to other gullies like the ones around Jama Masjid in Delhi, to a series of long narrow steps in Shillong to a market street that could be from Madurai. In each, a local hip hop crew dance and rap in their local language and street style, before each repeat of the Hindi chorus — so it feels like you're urged to walk in each of their shoes (mere jootein mein toh chal ke toh dekh...) in each of their streets representing the corners of India. Each of the rap sections is in a different Indian language. From Mumbai – Divine’s bambaiya Hindi, from Delhi – Prabhdeep’s Punjabi, from Madurai — Madurai Soljour’s Tamil, and perhaps most excitingly, from Shillong — Khasi Bloodz’ Khasi.
Now, I don’t know if you are familiar with the sound of the Khasi language that's spoken in the hills of Meghalaya (and parts of Assam). I know I am not. But man, does it sound good in rap. Arguably the most exciting part of the video, the Khasi-rappers from Shillong make a sick entry with a percussive rhyming structure, promising to make it rain and making you wish you understood Khasi. There is a little local girl in the video in a red tracksuit in the Shillong section; who’s got swag for days.
The video also features street artist Baadal Nanjundaswamy, who, in his art quite literally prefers the street to the walls around it. Here too, he covers the road with a rangoli style art over which the Madurai crews represent. Also featured are Mukti Mohan, and Shilo Shiv Suleiman who have helped choreograph and co-ordinate the street art respectively. And then there's that one dancer – I'm not sure who, but trust me, you'll know who – who adds so much oomph to the video, looks chic and exotic at the camera.
I could go on and on about this video and still not do it the justice it deserves. It's best you
watch experience it first hand. Because, finally, at long last, desi hip hop’s coming out party has a cool new anthem.
Get your shoes on.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity and do not in any way represent or reflect the views of 101India.com.
By Ishan Roy
Cover photo credit: ‘Suede Gully’