Rapper Divine, aka Vivian Fernandes, is one of the most popular names in the hip-hop music scene in India, but he says he has no friends in the music industry.
Divine’s latest song, the title track of his debut album “Kohinoor“, touches upon many topics including friends. He raps: “Gin-chun ke hain dost”.
Asked about his friends in the music industry, Divine told IANS: “I have a couple of friends who are always around me. I don’t have industry friends. I just have ‘hi bye’ friends in the industry.”
In the song, he also points out “Yahan nakli hai famous”. He didn’t take any celebrity’s name but shared that he was referring to a lot of people. “Not one particular guy. There are a lot of people who are misusing this art form, who are misusing hip-hop and other genres of music. Fake means when you are trying to fit in the scene, when you are trying to do something or be somebody that you are not. I see that a lot around me,” he said.
It took him a while to come out with his own album.
“It took me so long because we as a hip-hop community never had an audience. We were never recognised as an art form. We were not in the scene. When I started rapping, it took a lot of time to grow so it took me a while to understand what my sound was like and to understand me, myself as an artiste.
“As I was growing, I released a lot of singles. I think so far, I have released 10 to 15 singles. My audience grew, I grew as an artiste.”
Now, he is happy that the genre of music is growing in India and so, he feels “Kohinoor” is an apt title for his album.
“It means mountain of light. Finally, the limelight is on hip-hop. It also talks about the way I felt in the last three-four years,” said Divine, who like most of the Indian hip-hop artistes also had to initially struggle.
Then things started changing for good after his 2013 single “Yeh mera Bombay”. He soon became “the voice of the Mumbai streets”, especially after the 2015 “Mere gully mein” track with fellow rapper Naezy. Then “Gully Boy” happened to both the artistes, who served as inspirations for the hit Bollywood film.
“It’s the story of underdogs from Bombay. I think every Mumbai boy would relate to that movie. For me, the movie was just a movie. I feel that the movie has not affected my personal life because I never tried to gain something from the movie or had expectations from the movie that would change my life. I knew that the movie was coming out a few years ago. I was making music then also. The only thing that I am good at is making music,” said the rapper.
He is delighted about the film getting chosen as India’s official entry for Oscars 2020.
“Zoya Akhtar is a very good director. I congratulate everyone who was part of the movie. It’s a big thing for the movie industry and for hip-hop. We were a small part of that movie,” said Divine, who also had songs in “Gully Boy”.
So, when is he teaming up with Naezy again?
“Maybe next year. This year, I have a tight schedule. Maybe next year, we will do something,” he said.
This year, he also announced that he had set up a company that would function as a record label, recruit and manage new hip-hop talent and produce content.
“It’s a bridge for up and coming and established artists who are doing music. This is for every kid who thinks he wants to do music,” said Divine.