A few years ago, you probably wouldn’t have heard of rapper Vivian Fernandez, better known by his stage name Divine. Today, his videos have amassed millions of views on YouTube and he is signed to Sony Music India, one of the biggest record labels in the country.
But that’s not all. This month he made his film music debut with Paintra, the high-octane banger from indie veteran Anurag Kashyap’s upcoming boxing film Mukkabaaz. And acclaimed director Zoya Akhtar‘s next film Gully Boy starring Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt is inspired by the success stories of underground rappers like him and his peer Naezy.
We caught up with the rapper backstage at the TimeOut72 music festival in Goa to talk about performing music live, his Bollywood plans and what he thinks the future holds for Indian underground hip-hop:
What’s your pre-gig routine? How do you get in the zone when performing live?
We have a set list but never follow it. We go according to the crowd, the people and the city. I have the best in the business with me – Randolph Correia, Jai Row Kavi, JD, Spin Doctor. They’re good guys and I love playing with them.
The last Delhi gig we played, Randolph and the drummer started jamming and I started dropping rhymes. It sounded bomb. It’s important to have good musicians with you and musicians that you vibe with. And I vibe very well with the guys I play with.
You’ve spoken in several interviews about ‘asli hip-hop.’ What is asli hip-hop? How is it different from what other artists are doing?
Asli hip-hop is being yourself. A lot of people talk about a lot of things in their songs that they don’t do. That’s why I call it asli hip-hop because whatever you hear from me, we really live it.
Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy is inspired by the underground hip-hop scene and the stories of you and Naezy in particular. How do you feel about it and what’s your contribution to the film?
It’s finally happening. Hip-hop will be on the big screen, I’m very excited. It’s going to start rolling in 2018 somewhere. I’m lucky and honoured to be a part of the movie. Zoya is a good friend of mine and I think she believes I should be around and I’m just being there. I’m not guiding them or anything. They’re my friends now. We just talk.
You made your Bollywood debut with Paintra. How is it working with Anurag Kashyap? Do you see yourself working in Bollywood more often?
It was the right song, the right film and the right guys. I was waiting for this to happen. We finally touched Bollywood. I’ve seen Mukkabaaz and it’s incredible. I’ve always loved Anurag and Nucleya’s a big brother to me so there was no better song to do.
I’ll do Bollywood, why not? But I’ll do the right songs – the ones I want to do. So if you see me in some songs, it’s really me.
What is the future of your brand of Indian hip-hop? Who else should we be listening to?
We never imagined this could happen. It’s going to blow. 100% percent. There’s this new kid called Kaaam Bhaari. Uska kaam bhaari hai.