Art & Entertainment

MC Square: Indian Hip-Hop Scene Looks Promising

The Indian hip-hop circuit is attracting internationally renowned artists like 50 Cent and there's no way to go but up for homegrown talent, says rapper Abhishek Bensla, better known by his stage name MC Square.

MC Square

The Indian hip-hop circuit is attracting internationally renowned artists like 50 Cent and there's no way to go but up for homegrown talent, says rapper Abhishek Bensla, better known by his stage name MC Square.

The 24-year-old musician hip-hop in the country gained much needed attention after the release of Zoya Akhtar's 2019 film "Gully Boy", which was inspired by the lives of Indian street rappers DIVINE and Naezy.

"The Indian hip-hop scene looks very promising. Big international artists and rappers are also watching this space. 50 Cent had his tour in India. He is a legendary rapper, his coming here means they are interested in what is happening here.

"'Gully Boy' had an important impact. I don't agree with people who say that the film didn't do this or that properly. 'Gully Boy', after all, got the hip-hop genre into the mainstream. Whenever mainstream cinema shines a light on something, it definitely catches people's attention. Hip-hop has got recognised in some way due to 'Gully Boy'," MC Square told PTI in a virtual interview.

The rapper, who shot to fame after winning the second season of rap/hip-hop reality show "MTV Hustle" in 2022, is now set to be seen in the Sony LIV series "Chamak".

Created and directed by Rohit Jugraj, the musical thriller follows the story of Kaala (Paramvir Singh Cheema), a young aspiring rapper who comes back to Punjab from Canada and unravels the death of Taara Singh – the legendary singer who was shot dead in the midst of a packed performance.

When Jugraj briefed him for "Chamak", the rapper said he found it interesting as he had seen incidents like this happen closely in real life.

"I'm from the north, so these kinds of things are common there. Something very similar also happened to Sidhu Moosewala paaji, whom I consider an idol. So, that was a very relatable factor for me. That's why I said yes to the project from the word go," he added.

Asked if the story of "Chamak" bears any resemblance to Amar Singh Chamkila or Sidhu Moosewala, musicians who lost their life in gun violence in Punjab, MC Square said the series draws inspiration from many such events but is a fictional story.

"This story is not based particularly on any individual artist like Chamkila ji or Sidhu paaji. This series is inspired by many such real-life incidents that have happened. When an industry is big, the money is big, there is also more crime," he said.

If you say something in a realistic manner, you will court controversy, said the Haryana-born musician.

"We live in a strange world, we tend to make issues out of petty things. Even Saadat Hasan Manto was considered controversial at a point of time because of what he wrote.

"Today, he is viewed as a legend. I think people will understand later. If you talk about real issues, one day or another, people will accept you. Today, you'll be stuck in a controversy, but tomorrow, you'll be remembered as a good artist," he added.

MC Square has a cameo in "Chamak" and has composed a song called "Mat Maari" for the show. Besides, the series will witness songs by Gippy Grewal, Mika Singh, Malkit Singh, Afsana Khan, Asees Kaur, Sunidhi Chauhan, Kanwar Grewal, Shashwat Singh, and Harjot Kaur.

The artist said he wrote the track when he was on his way to record the song.

"I'm playing myself in the web series. It's a cameo as MC Square... I have created one song for 'Chamak'. There are many other artists who have also contributed to the show.

"The song that I've written talks about the fact that there is no difference between an established name or an upcoming artist. Basically, there's no difference in art. I had to erase those differences. I have told my journey through this song," he added.

He made a name for himself through his songs such as "Le Le Ram Ram", "Badmos Chora" and "Naina Ki Talwar", and the rapper said there was not much difference in composing tracks on demand for other creators.

"All these things, topics or energies revolve around us. As writers, we can talk about anything. We feel strongly about several topics and I think these issues should reach the common public.

"When Rohit sir briefed me, I thought this story deserves to reach the masses, that I must talk about this. So, I only talked about topics I felt strongly about. There were no set directions. Rohit sir said 'This is the topic but you are free to write anything'. And, that's exactly what I did," he added.

As someone who grew up on Haryanvi Ragni, a popular folk music form of Haryana, MC Square said his vocabulary expanded when he started reading 'shayaris'.

"If you look at my art, it's about fusing modern writing with Haryanvi folk music and Ragni. I also used to listen to hip-hop. I am the mixture of all these things, that's what I represent. Fusing folk with hip-hop. Environment also plays a key role. I have listened a lot to Sidhu paaji. He has inspired me to fuse folk with hip-hop and develop desi hip-hop," he said.

The recording artist, who has created a fan base that includes names such as Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli, said he is yet to come to terms with his growing popularity.

"To be honest, I'm really not able to understand what it means to be popular. I'm just going with the flow. My approach is the same as before. Maybe one day, I'll be able to wrap my head around what it means to be popular."

Up next for MC Square is an album and film projects, all of them lined up for 2024.

Produced by Geetanjali Mehelwa Chauhan, Jugraj and Sumeet Dubey, "Chamak" features Manoj Pahwa, Gippy Garewal, Mohit Malik, Isha Talwar, Mukesh Chhabra, Prince Kanwaljit Singh, Suvinder (Vicky) Pal, and Akasa Singh.

The series will start streaming on Sony LIV from December 7.

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