Gully rap goes regional

A growing number of rap artists are now raising social concerns in local dialects and regional languages.

The song Mere Gully Mein, from the film Gully Boy, is set as the ringtone on Duleshwar Tandi's phone. When he takes the call, the rapper sounds distracted; he is recording a new song at home. "One never knows when the power will go off and I need to finish this song now," says the 27-year-old, who lives in Borda village in Odisha's Kalahandi district. Tandi, who goes by the moniker Rapper Dule Rocker, shot to prominence on 4 July when the People's Archive of Rural India (PARI) Network posted a video of his song. It caught the eye of music director Vishal Dadlani and artist Divine, who tweeted praise for him.

Tandi, who has been posting rap videos on his YouTube channel in the Sambalpuri language, also known as Kosli, and Hindi for a year, is part of a growing number of rappers raising social concerns in Indian languages. Confirming the trend, a YouTube India spokesperson cites the example of The Dharavi Dream Project, which doesn't just talk about pressing issues but also runs rap, hip hop and beat boxing classes at its school in the Mumbai slum, one of Asia's largest.

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