Srinagar, the Capital of Jammu and Kashmir is home to a number of Rappers/Hip Hop Artists in Kashmir. Hip-Hop/Rap came into prominence in 2010 after Roushan Illahi aka MC Kash burst into the scene of Rap in Kashmir. 13 Years down the line, Today we take a look at top 5 Hip Hop Artists From Srinagar.
1. MC Kash Aka Roushan Illahi
Roushan Illahi better known by his stage name MC Kash is a Kashmiri emcee/rapper. Taking his stage name from his place of birth- Kashmir, MC Kash is an independent musician based out of Srinagar.
Born in 1990 in Srinagar, located in Jammu and Kashmir, Roushan Illahi’s father is a doctor and his mother is a teacher.
He holds recognition as a distinguished alumnus of Burn Hall School. Illahi accomplished his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Islamia College of Science and Commerce, Srinagar in 2012.
Later in 2015, he actively pursued a Master’s degree in Convergent Journalism at Central University of Kashmir. In 2016, Illahi earned selection as a participant in the Swedish Institute’s South Asian leadership program, Young Connectors of the Future.
Hip hop music entered Kash’s life through a track from Beastie Boys titled “No Sleep till Brooklyn.” He attributes his major musical influences to 2pac Shakur and Eminem, drawing inspiration from the Civil Rights Movement in the United States of America.
Kash takes credit for initiating the inception of Hip Hop music in Kashmir, gaining admiration and inspiring numerous young and emerging rappers. He holds the distinction of being the individual who ignited Hip Hop Kashmir, a movement that contributed to the burgeoning popularity of rap music in the region.
Moreover, Kash’s fame extends to his appearances in various documentaries. Notably, he appeared in Diversity in Cannes (2018), a documentary for which his work MC Kash received a nomination.
Furthermore, he featured in other documentaries like Take It in Blood, directed by Rana Ghose, chronicling MC Kash’s interactions with Kashmiri activist Parveena Ahanger. His presence also graced the award-winning music documentary Soz: A Ballad of Maladies (2016).
2. Ahmer Javed
Ahmer Javed is a Kashmiri rapper from Srinagar known by his stage name Ahmer, who made a successful debut with his album Little Kid Big Dreams in 2019, produced by Indian hip-hop pioneer Sez on the Beat.
He performed to packed club crowds in Mumbai and Delhi, which was not a common experience for independent artists from Kashmir.
Also, in the midst of the crackdown and COVID-19 lockdowns, Ahmer wrote his second album Azli, which describes the mental and emotional trauma of those years.
Azli is a desolate post-mortem of the collateral damage from a stalled revolution. Ahmer composed and co-produced the album along with a small group of young Kashmiri and mainlander producers.
Blown-out bass and minor-key synths compose the music, incorporating snatches of Kashmiri folk song, while a haze of menacing distortion filters through it.
Ahmer intertwines personal and familial struggles with Kashmiri history into compelling witness testimony, documenting physical and psychic violence barely acknowledged, and waiting for justice that is unlikely to come. His album Azli is a powerful testament to the trauma and suffering of the Kashmiri people.
3. Mir Gazanfar aka SXR
SXR, a rapper hailing from Srinagar, Kashmir, has truly etched his name in the industry, courtesy of his impactful lyrics and enthralling stage presence. Notably, he has garnered extensive acclaim by skillfully channeling his music as a platform to tackle social and political matters head-on. His followers, in particular, hold his candidness and genuine nature in high regard.
Beyond his musical prowess, SXR’s compositions effectively mirror the distinctive cultural tapestry and challenges faced by the Kashmiri populace. Consequently, he has seamlessly transitioned into a beacon of hope and motivation, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of many. His bold lyrics and dynamic stage presence have earned him a loyal following, and he continues to push the boundaries of what is possible in the world of hip-hop.
With his profound ability to touch people’s hearts and minds through his music, SXR has firmly established himself as an influential voice in the music industry. As a rising star, he not only showcases immense talent but also possesses the potential to shape a lasting impact on the music world. Moreover, with his fans eagerly awaiting, his forthcoming contributions to the future hold a sense of anticipation and excitement.
4. Arif Farooq aka Qafilah
Arif Farooq, who goes by the stage name Qafilah, is a hip-hop artist hailing from Kashmir. The conflict in the region deeply influences his music, and his lyrics are renowned for their conscious nature. Qafilah infuses his tracks with poetic lyrics and themes that are socially conscious.
5. Anwar Mehdi
Also known as A-Killar, is a rapper hailing from Down Town Srinagar. His lyrical prowess in the Kashmiri language garners recognition. Despite briefly leaving hip hop, he made a comeback with the release of “Mouji,” a track dedicated to mothers. Following the success of “Mouji,” Killar dropped another hit song called “D Town,” which refers to Down Town and his struggles navigating through the alleys of Srinagar.