Storytellers of a new generation
The Rapscallion: Hip Hop Homeland article cover picture

The Rapscallion: Hip Hop Homeland

Enterprising rapper Dee MC minces no words and feels her swag comes from being a simple Indian kid.

Cooking up rhymes or taking potshots comes easy for this Malayali girl from Kalyan whose DIY attitude is quickly gaining her a cult following in the underground hip hop and YouTube world. With just a handful in her ilk, Deepa Unnikrishnan aka Dee MC has a way of churning out catchy numbers that loops in your head with just one listen but at the same time she can get cracking with tracks on a darker note as well.

While her radio friendly “Char Logon Ki Baatein” is an underground hit, tracks like Greenhouse Effect talk about getting stoned.

“This track gon' cook more beef than Gordon Ramsey ever has,” she croons in another track called RAPscallion, where she also takes a dig at rapper MC Kaur, as she sings, “Calling yourself hip hop bahu, please, I’m hip hop’s daughter”. Says Dee MC, “, I just made a diss track just because I wanted to. I won’t say I regret it but I’m way past that phase, right now we’re pretty much co-existing without coming in each other’s way. The term Hip-Hop Bahu has been her trademark since way before her album (Hip Hop Bahu) released and I only teased that term in my track.”

Looks might be deceiving as Dee MC might come across as your regular girl next door, and that she raps might be the last thing you associate with her. As far as she’s concerned, she’s a simple kid with a cool quotient within. “We mimic swag just for fun but in reality I’m not much of a ‘swag’ person. If you see me walking down the street you wouldn’t ever think that I’m a rapper because that’s the way I carry myself. Hip-Hop is mainly about keeping it real and my reality is that I’m a cool kid on the inside but appearance wise I’m just a simple Indian kid,” Dee MC admits.

Currently in Saudi Arabia, visiting her father who’s been working there since her birth in 1994, Dee MC feels that hip hop is just laying its foundation in the country and will take some time before we have hip hop oriented festivals just like the rock music festivals that had gained momentum few years back.

Says Dee MC, “I think its (hip hop) headed towards establishing the culture for a long term run. Like rock culture did. You have rock fests and gigs now because they started laying the foundation since the ‘90s. Hip-Hop in India is currently only a little away from that ‘laying the foundation’ phase. So we are literally paving the way for future generations and I think in about 3-5 years we will see many hip-hop fests happening all around the country.”

Echoing some of her peers in the underground scene, Dee MC too feels that the sub culture needs to start recognizing each other’s work. “People are so busy trying to be in the limelight that they forget to acknowledge each other’s existence. Rappers need to work a lot on unity,” she adds. Dee MC, who’s currently doing her Masters in Commerce feels that she’s past her peppy teenage phase where random rhymes ruled the roost and is now more choosy about her concepts as she plans to move on to more complex subjects. “The subjects and themes I explore are usually related to my own experiences or my personal take on the different experiences we all have like my perspective of the society, of the people around us, the state of our nation or even the Universe and God for that matter,” she says.

She can be quite enterprising, because flexing up rhymes and penning her poetic struggles is just half the work done. She pretty much single-handedly saddles up her rap music with videos and marketing.

Says Dee MC, “The biggest challenge is finding like-minded people who are ready to work with you simply because they believe in your art. I started making videos when I was only 19 and at that time there was no way I could pay anyone for anything. So the biggest challenge was getting pro bono work.”

“Apart from that the whole process is quite hectic since I’m doing everything on my own. Makeup, dressing, choosing location, planning the shots has pretty much been spontaneous,” she adds.

The rapper is planning to release an EP mid-year which will mostly have her singing instead of rapping as she feels she’s a good singer too. Planning an album is a long shot for her but she’s positive about dropping a lot of singles and videos in 2016.

Being a female rapper can be a thorny issue and Dee MC too had to deal with those moralities, especially convincing her family about the lifestyle she’d chosen. “Forget women rappers, women who listens to rap itself is way less. I won’t say there are many challenges per se but it all depends on your personal background. If you belong to a relatively progressive family who are cool with you travelling around the country, going for late night shows and what not then you’re pretty much set,” she says. “I don’t have that independence personally so that’s my biggest challenge by far. Let’s be honest, Indian parents will always be over protective and when you don’t have that independence to step out and be free in every manner, all your moves get restricted,” she points out.

So is she interested in the crew culture or joining one?

“I don’t think I’m ever going to join a crew. It’s too much responsibility towards others and I don’t have the time or energy for that,” she sums up.

Dee MC is featured in Hip Hop Homeland, a series about India's underground hip hop scene.

 

By Mohan KK