How Hip Hop Saved My Life

Mumbai b-boying artist traces the underground breakdance and rap scene in the city no one is talking about and the upcoming Thane Hip Hop Movement cypher

Vicky Shriyan November 25, 2021
Thane cypher Vol 1

Bboy Kaotic Kid from Freak N Stylz Crew, Mumbai

“Hip hop is the last true folk art” - Mos def

The hip-hop vet, who is pretty much as old as the art form itself, in eight crisp words has been able to encompass its mass hysteria and retrospect. I call it an art form, because it isn’t really just about the music. Hip-hop originated in the late 1960′s and continues to evolve to the present day. Something that started 40 years ago became a particular movement and culture for everyone around the world. Hip-hop culture has been internationally recognized in 1970s. Its main components are rap (MC’ing), break dance, Djing, beatboxing and graffiti. In expression, it’s the most vociferous of art forms and that’s how I found myself gravitating towards it.


Vicky Shriyan in action

Summer of 2008 is when hip-hop found me I still remember the day my couch potato TV viewing experience would chance me upon the greatest discoveries of my life. Shamur’s pulsating Rock Your Body was playing on MTV India, back when the channel would still play international music. Multiple dance crews displayed their dexterity in break dance in the video. I had never seen anything like that. There was a lot of popping, locking, B-boying and wacking on display. At the time I didn’t know what I was seeing, but what really caught my eyes were Freak N Stylz crew’s B-boying chops and Iron Kutz’s mind-bending popping. Next thing I did was to download the video, get it on my phone show it to my friends. I wanted my body to spin and fold the same way and soon found out that Freak N Stylz had representatives running classes in Charni road, Mumbai. My friends and I decided to join them, but since I was broke, I pawned off my friends to come home from class and teach me. That’s how my passion grew- from bedrooms to rooftops to cyphers in malls all across the city.

B-boying has spread across the nation like a virus in this decade. Today there are many crews out there doing their thing but the ones that stand out are Freak N Stylz crew, Mumbai and Black Ice crew, Bengaluru. They have always maintained the quality in all of their performances, be it in battles or representing India abroad at global break-dance championships like BOTY South Asia in Thailand, Freestyle Session Taiwanand more.

While B-boying was getting its shape from kids practicing in slums to the ones sweating in fancy studios. Rapping and graffiti was too growing in the Indian hip hop scene. Rappers like Ace, R.O.G.E.R, Brodha V, Kinga Rhymes, Divine, D’evil, Enkore, A-list and Bob, to name few were keeping it real. Be it rap battles or cyphers, they made sure rapping is not just spitting bars or just rhyming. It was something they lived for, dreamed of.  These guys rapped to inspire people with well-written, crisply-delivered, clear and comprehensive lyrics. Most people would rather rhyme words in a catchy manner but few take the time to actually emcee.

Freak n Stylz

The Freak N Stylz crew

Zake Graffiti is one of the finest graffiti artists in India. His work is neat and clean reiterated by a strong social message. Graffiti is something which is still very new to the country, but I hope people don’t view these elaborate pieces as vandalism, and instead see them as an art form unto itself. You see the connection between graffiti and hip hop is that of an organ to a body, a brick in a wall. Without graffiti hip hop would not be complete. For better or for worse, graffiti is a part of hip hop. Graffiti is one of the four elements of hip hop and always will be.

The Thane Hip Hop Movement (THHM) cypher is one such event that promotes young hip hop talent in the city. At its first edition held a few months ago, I saw an overwhelming response by 30 participants and 250 enthused audience members who curiously gathered at the lush lawns of Hiranandani Meadows to witness a revolution in the making. The second edition of the THHM cypher will be held on December 1, 2021 at Korum Mall, Thane, just three months after  the first one. THHM is the brainchild of rapper Virat Pawar, known by his stage name as Majestic V, who almost three years into being an MC took the onus of organizing his own cypers in hometown, Thane.

I will be there as part of this underground revolution, will you?

  • Attend and register for the Thane Hip Hop Cypher Vol 2 at Korum Mall, Thane on December 1, 2013. To register write to [email protected] Details here.