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Mumbai's Hip-Hop Scene Hasn't Come of Age, and Neither Have its Scenesters

Mumbai's Hip-Hop Scene Hasn't Come of Age, and Neither Have its Scenesters

Dominic's debut as a bouncer at the first Hip-Hop Homeland gig. From the outside, looking out.

I don't go out much.

'Out' means noise, and people, and the possibility that some of these people might know me, and try to say hi.

And if they said hi to me, I’d have to respond, and that would require talking on my part, and that’s when it would all go up in flames.

What I’m trying to say is that I'm not very social, which is why I was doing my best to avoid attending the first ever 101 India Hip-Hop Homeland gig.

But then I bumped into my boss, and we had the following interaction:

 “You weren't planning on coming, Dominic?”
“Have I mentioned that you’re already on thin ice?”
“See you there.”

- My Boss

Cut to a sweaty Wednesday night at Khar *not even Bandra -- Khar* Social, for a work event.

Well, technically, not at Social. Beneath it, at antiSOCIAL, the “underground” (because it’s under ground, get it?) club venue that opened in March.

My colleagues kept gushing about how great the sound was. I actually had no idea, because my ‘event duty' was to stand outside with the bouncers, to ensure that the media, press, and the people we knew/preferred/were wearning crop tops got in – no matter what.

In other words – I didn't have to actually attend the event.

In other words – Fuck, yeah!

My crew card makes me look professionalMy crew card makes me look professional

My colleagues did try to get me in though, the social bastards, with seductive phrases like “we have food at the VIP lounge.” There I was, trying to be antisocial at a club called antiSOCIAL, and they wouldn’t leave me in peace. Bastards.

But as enticing as the VIP food was, nothing was going to drag me away from the door. Why? Because (I know you’ll find this hard to believe) despite my flair for words and natural charm, I’d never had the luxury of rejecting women.

Until tonight.

Tonight, I was rejecting women left, right, and center. Hordes of them. It was incredible.

And I wasn’t doing it just for cathartic purposes. I was upholding the law. These were underage girls trying to sneak themselves into a 21+ club. Free food was not going to lure me away.

“We'll do you for entry,” two girls said I fantasized. *

*Two points:

1) They were under 21, not under 18, which makes it legal

2) It's my head. Go to hell and screw you for judging my threesome fantasy.

“They once made me stand at the door,
Of a club, as a company chore.
I smiled and said, “Hi,”
“Hey, laaj waat te kai,”
“You're too young to go see Enkore.”
- MC Limerick

I should have been in my element, standing there, waving away scantily clad teenagers. But the overthinker in me forced me to reflect upon the politics of nightclub entry.

It’s deliciously ironic, isn’t it?

The rejected, the flat-brimmed, Instagramming masses, can vote a political party into power, perhaps because they hope that the party will lower the drinking age.

They are the ultimate voice, the largest demographic, the “young Indian” population that we hope will power our economic future.

And yet despite all their power, God forbid they watch a Hip Hop show at a venue that serves alcohol.

101 employees arrive in autorickshaws (what else)101 employees arrive in autorickshaws (what else)

I wasn’t complaining, though. It was these under-21, fake-ID-carrying (I'm 30) kids that made my night so delightful.

Here are the Top Five Things I Saw, outside Hip Hop Homeland – India's First Hip Hop Music Tour, from the streets to the stage. *Hip Hop Homeland. Hip Hop Homeland. Hot Young Artists. Girls. Crop Tops. Indian. SEO.*

1. 17-year-old gets in the face of 35-year-old bouncer:
And three hundred 17-year-olds later the cops showed up. Overheard: “Something, something. Fuck The Police. Something, something. Fuck The Establishment.”

2. 17-year-old's arsenal of ID cards promote new Jason Bourne movie:
“This is my licence. What? Yes, of course I drive a commercial vehicle. Doesn't everyone?”
“But it is my college ID? See, Junior Coll...”
“This is my Aadhar Card. Photocopy. Laminated. Come on...”

“This is a picture, of a picture, of my passport, as the passport picture.”
“Fuck off, bro. This IS me. I look different in red.”

3. 17-year-old was 'turning 21 in a month, sir':
Me: “I don't care if you were turning 21 in a minute. You’re not getting in.”

4. 17-year-old groupies masquerade as After Movie Crew:
Them: “We're ******'s crew, bro.”

Me: “No, you aren't.”

Them: “Please, we just stepped out for a smoke... please let us in.”

I did. They had me at “bro.”

5. 17-year-old veteran artist drops by:

Upon his flat brimmed hed, in a bold, imposing red, was one word: Tupac.

Then he said:  “I am Tupac.”

His ID, unfortunately, read Toufiq.

And like his namesake, he didn't make it either.

8pm. The crowd builds up8pm. The crowd builds up

Three police interventions, and ten thousand “Mother Fuckers” later, we were at full capacity, and entry to Hip Hop Homeland was closed.

I asked one of the bouncers why he wasn't going in to check out the Hip-Hop Scene.

“It's some of Mumbai's finest,” I pleaded.

He just wasn't into that sort of music.

“What’s your favourite song?” I asked.

 “Shut up and bounce,” he said.

And bounce I did. I bounced like my life depended on it.

I even managed to squeeze myself down to antiSOCIAL for half an hour of divine VIP food, with Some Divine in the background.

* * *

So how would I rate the evening?

I didn't really have any expectations because I didn't know what to expect from a gig. I could only judge Hip Hop Homeland by its over-capacity, hands-in-the-air, wavin'-like-it-just-didn't-care crowd.

And the show didn't seem bad at all. On my way out, I bumped into a few people I knew, one of whom I actually had an interest in talking to.

Wanna snog at the back? Great turnout,” she said.

It was a great turnout, but as I exited past the throng of shitfaced 17-year-olds (none of whom had been allowed inside the venue for this exact reason – perhaps irony is a gift that develops after you turn 21), I realised that the night could have been much, much better.

350 people inside, 300 outside 350 people inside, 300 outside

Hip-Hop was alive at Hip-Hop Homeland. Maybe not in the music, the stage, the lightshow, or the artists.

But it was alive in the streets outside, where everyone who came for the event, but never made it inside, waited – for four hours.

Every rickshaw: occupied. Every car hood: occupied by a crew. Every cigarette: laced. Everybody, everwhere: underage.

Here’s my prediction: the day that everybody on the outside comes of age, Hip-Hop in Mumbai will, too.

Toufiq lives.


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

By Dominic S.