Art & Entertainment

National Under-20 Footballer Who Left Government Job To Rule As 'King' Of Rap

Rapper Arpan Chandel, professionally known as King, has exploded on the scene in the past few years with his music topping the hearts and the charts.


Rapper Arpan Chandel, professionally known as King, has exploded on the scene in the past few years with his music topping the hearts and the charts.

The 'Tu Aake Dekh Le' hitmaker, who has just collaborated with international pop star Nick Jonas for a reboot of his superhit song 'Tu Maan Meri Jaan', has had his share of struggles as he rose from humble beginnings.

The journey starts much before his appearance on the first season of the hip-hop reality show 'MTV Hustle', when he was still in school. As a young adult, Arpan grew up on a staple diet of Backstreet Boys, Vengaboys, 50 Cent and Lil Wayne.

He cultivated the musician in him at a very early age as he was the soprano of his choir at the Navyug School -- a government-run school for bright but economically underprivileged students in Delhi's Sarojini Nagar.

The guy was gifted with the 'right bent of mind', no seriously, as much as he was good at music, he was a gifted sportsman as well - both the streams being the function of the right side of the brain.

He got the admission in Dyal Singh College, Delhi University, to pursue Bachelor of Arts via the sports quota. He even played football in the national under-20 team while in college. Despite his good performance, the class divide caught up with him and soon, he dropped out of the college as he couldn't relate to his fellow students.

After college, like everyone else he knew, it was time for Arpan to enter the workforce. He did so by landing a government job. Arpan held onto his job for half a decade, but music was always the escape route for him. And he worked towards his dream by making songs while still at his job.

It was in 2015 that Arpan laid the foundation of the throne that he would go on to occupy as the 'King. 2015 has been a definitive year for a lot of artistes across the board.

The 4G spectrum witnessed a steady expansion in India and as a result this changed the world for many independent artistes as they didn't have to go through the grind of breaking through the gates of music labels and caving in to the demands of studio executives. All it needed to be a musician was the music and a stable Internet connection or network coverage.

At the age of 19, Arpan posted his first song 'Boombass' on YouTube to try his luck. As fate would have it, his song was loved by the audience. The YouTube algorithm helped as his music started getting recommended to those who are on a lookout for new artistes. Ten months later, he followed it up with another song titled 'Zinnda', which was about surviving heartbreak.

The King was adding jewels to his crown one after the other. It was the Internet, which took him to the remotest parts of India and cultivated a new audience for him. And it keeps growing eight years after he started off his journey.

In 2019, he gave his audition for in 'MTV Hustle' and again it was the Internet that became his vehicle. He gave a digital audition and sent over his files for the show where he was judged by the biggest of Indian stars -- Raftaar, Raja Kumari, Nucleya and Naezy.

It was during the show that he adopted the regal stage name. Arpan was finally crowned the KING. He didn't tell anyone at home about it till he knew he was among the finalists.

He did not win the show's first season, but he set out on a different journey, the one that would make him an absolute favourite of indie music listeners and the one that would catapult him to the Billboard and Spotify charts.

His 2020 breakout hit 'Tu Aake Dekh Le' emerged as a favourite number for desi parties. His reign expanded with a bigger hit 'Maan Meri Jaan' from his album 'Champagne Talk', which was about a love lost because of a misunderstanding. The song found a perch on Billboard India at the No. 1 spot.

The song also topped the Spotify Daily Top Songs India, overtaking even the popular Bollywood song 'Kesariya', the latter coming with the backing of Dharma Productions' marketing muscle, meme culture, and of course, the combined star power of Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt.

'Maan Meri Jaan' only had the music and the honesty of its artiste, which 278 million (and counting!) YouTube users couldn't get enough of.

The track broke onto Spotify's Top Global Chart on January 1 this year, at No. 25. King was effectively in the same league as Beyonce ('Cuff It'), The Weeknd ('Die For You'), and Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa ('One Kiss'). As of today, it has had more than 185 million streams on Spotify.

King made his Bollywood debut with his song 'Sahi Galat', which was featured in the Ajay Devgn and Tabu-starrer 'Drishyam 2'. He then went on to lend his voice to the 'Mere Sawaal Ka' track from the Kartik Aryan and Kriti Sanon film 'Shehzada'.

The rapper will now be performing at Wireless 2023 and represent India alongside his fellow artistes such as Divine and Raja Kumari, and international stars such as Travis Scott, Lil Uzi Vert, Wegz, Black Sherif and Ali Gatie.