Mumbai has long been known as the “city of dreams,” with its densely populated streets in the Dharavi slum and its arc-shaped boulevard of Marine Drive. And nowhere is it more apparent than in the city’s thriving hip-hop scene, which has given rise to some of the greatest and most accomplished indian rappers in history. With notable events like the release of “Gully Boy” and the greatest DHH word war between Raftaar and Emiway Bantai, Mumbai’s regional hip-hop genre started to receive widespread recognition in the middle of the 2010s. With the release of “Gully Boy,” the hip-hop movement in Mumbai continued to grow and diversify, with artists like DIVINE, Emiway Bantai, 7 Bantai’Z, MC Altaf, Naezy, Raja Kumari, Dino James, Swadesi, and Yashraj becoming well-known figures and heroes among youngsters. Aavrutti, Mumbai’s Finest, and Dopeadelicz are a few examples of underground rap groups who have gained popularity for their unique aesthetics and captivating flows. Their use of the regional tongue, songs that were influenced by the streets, and unfiltered approach became a defining characteristic and served as the template for other generations of rappers from Bombay.
With a new generation of musicians carrying on the rap heritage of the city, Mumbai’s hip-hop culture is still one of the most prominent and influential in DHH today. From emerging trappers like Loka and Vijay DK to elite lyricists like Gaush and Kidshot, Mumbai’s rappers continue to push boundaries and shape the sound of Mumbai hip-hop for generations to come. With the top 10 best Mumbai rappers of all time, let’s explore the world of Mumbai rap and celebrate the legends who have contributed to its success.
The 10 Best Mumbai Rappers Of All Time
DIVINE may be the only rapper in Indian hip-hop history with a stronger claim to rap grandeur. However, it has nothing to do with the fact that he is an outstanding Emcee, has a remarkable discography spanning more than a decade, is one of the most influential Indian rappers ever, or has as many achievements as he has.
Whether or not you feel DIVINE is the GOAT, he was always going to be in the top tier of this culture. For many of the rappers, DIVINE is an idol because of how he overcame obstacles in his personal life to pursue music, how he dominated the Hindi rap scene with determination and hard work, how he became one of the most well-known names in Indian rap music, and how he has now achieved worldwide fame.
Catalog: Kohinoor (2019), Punya Paap (2020), Gunehgar (2022),
2. Emiway Bantai
Several names come to mind while discussing some of Mumbai’s most well-known rappers. DIVINE, for redefining the genre. Naezy, for his song “Aafat,” which changed the game. Swadesi, for promoting conscientious hip-hop. Raja Kumari, for promoting rap music among women. And of course Emiway Bantai, whose sound, vocabulary, and style have influenced dozens of Indian rappers.
Emiway Bantai, the largest independent rapper in India who was born in Bengaluru and raised in Mumbai, has never merged into the conventional music business as his contemporaries have. As a result, the superstar rapper outperformed every other rapper from Mumbai in terms of commercial success. Emiway became a household name at DHH due to his tendency to master the system, relentless work ethic, and knack for seizing opportunities when they presented.
Catalog: Mein EP (2017), No Brands EP (2019), Dhundke Dikha EP (2020), Malum Hai Na (2021), 8 Saal (2022), Monsoon EP (with Young Galib) (2022)
With the demise of MC TodFod, Indian hip-hop lost one of its most brilliant and distinctive voices. MC Todfod was a prominent member of one of the most renowned Desi rap groups, Swadesi, and was well known for his revolutionary pen. Since its founding in 2013, Swadesi has always had one goal in mind: to inspire young individuals to appreciate all things Indian. They write poetry and music in the majority of local languages.
Along with activist and Warli tribal leader Prakash Bhoir, they put out the powerful anthem The Warli Revolt in 2019. As the title suggests, the Warli Revolt is a type of call to arms against the tree cutting in Mumbai’s Aarey forest. The government’s extensive hypocrisy, materialism, and corruption are all condemned in the song. They stand out because of the universal appeal of their anti-establishment and revolutionary songs. The group also organised concerts and shows at the Aarey Amphitheatre as a part of the effort to conserve the forest. With collaborations spanning from Bandish Projekt to Slumgods, Swadesi consistently gives the audience food for thought with each of their releases.
Catalog: Chetavni (2020)
4. Shah Rule
Rahul Shahani, aka Shah Rule’s musical pedigree, runs deep in music. The Hong Kong-born rapper is one of the finest out there, who found friends in Gully Gang, and is now a family member of the rap collective founded by none other than DIVINE. The true Nomade was then signed to Mass Appeal India thanks to his compelling songwriting skills while keeping a foot in pop music. Shah Rule quickly displayed his versatility and became fully committed to the Indian rap scene.
Shah Rule thrived by being overlooked or given insufficient recognition. Shah Rule is one of the rare rappers that can do melodies and bars effortlessly at the same time. Shah Rule, the member of “Gully Gang,” has been on a remarkable run since he rose to the top, with the exception of the occasional gap of a few months.
Catalog: Hooked (2021)
After his incredible performances in MTV Hustle, in 2022, people began to refer to him as Indian Kendrick Lamar, since his name is so closely associated with the city’s rap culture. Gravity is a founding member of “Bombay Lokal,” a well-known rap group from Mumbai.
Gravity’s music has a dark, realistic undercurrent. His rhymes go deeper than your average flex rapper, since they are intelligent and poetic. As a result of his selection for India’s first rap reality show, “MTV Hustle,” in 2022, after years of underground success, he was able to gain more exposure for his talent and tireless work. While discussing the top rappers from Mumbai, you must remember King Grav, a mainstay of the city’s hip-hop culture.
Catalog: Prashna Chinha (2018), Putrapaksh EP (with Brayne Dead) (2019), Walls Of Jericho (2021), 3:16 (2022), Misadventure (with Neil CK) (2022), Malaal EP (with Neil CK) (2022)
One of the best rappers in Mumbai, Kidshot is more than just a fast rapper; he is an MC who arranges his words like puzzle pieces, giving each verse and each bar a sharpness. He’s given enough efforts to his pen and his incredibly clear delivery. Earlier, Kidshot gained notoriety as a member of Raftaar’s “Kalamkaar” music label. He eventually quit the label and began concentrating on his solo career. The real chopper rap has been carried by Kidshot’s style, which captures the intricate rhyme scheme and chopping lyrics.
The talented Mumbai rapper loves to experiment with the mic and his rhymes usually hit hard, but it wasn’t until the desi hip-hop community matured and audiences realised Kidshot’s incredible skill as a rapper. Compared to other Mumbai veterans, he hasn’t had as much success, but because of his mastery of the mic, he is more beloved than any other rapper of his generation.
Catalog: Bhot Kuch EP (2020), The Come Up (2023)
The genesis single “Aafat” marked Naezy’s rap debut. He then gained popularity with his collaboration with DIVINE, “Mere Gully Mein,” the official gully rap anthem. He helped pioneer the genre alongside fellow Mumbai-based rappers, DIVINE and Emiway Bantai. Following the song’s success, a documentary “Bombay 70” was produced based on Naezy’s life, which was awarded as the best short film at MIAMI in 2014. In 2019, the movie “Gully Boy” was released, which is also inspired by the story of Naezy and DIVINE. Because of certain family issues, he stopped making rap music in 2018, but he returned the following year after realising how much he loved the music. He afterwards reinvented himself with new projects, including Maghreb and 2014, in 2020. Naezy has also collaborated with rapper Nas, Mika Singh, and Udit Narayan, in addition to working on numerous successful Bollywood projects.
Naezy is among the most beloved and esteemed artists in DHH, regardless of the criticism he has received for his most recent work. In addition, his music serves a positive purpose, and he has unbeatable rhyming skills. The truth is that Naezy The Baa isn’t only one of the greatest rappers to have ever come out of Mumbai; he’s one of the most influential hip-hop artists to hail from the city.
Catalog: Maghreb (2020), 2014 (2020), Tarqeeb (2022), 22 (2022)
8. MC Altaf
MC Altaf, a young rapper from Mumbai who is known for his consistency, has one of desi hip hop’s most significant discographies. Just after appearing in the Bollywood film “Gully Boy” and joining DIVINE’s “Gully Gang Entertainment,” MC Altaf quickly rose to prominence as one of Mumbai’s most recognisable figures. Altaf has a booming voice and a ferocious intensity that complement all the other rappers he has collaborated with, from Seedhe Maut to Raftaar. He is a great lyricist and a valuable asset to any music label.
That said, MC Altaf is a menace on the mic whose unbridled passion couldn’t be contained in his present discography. This is not to downplay his talent as a solo artist. Although MC Altaf hasn’t released a full-length album, the numerous projects that he collaborated to show his brilliance. Without a single doubt, MC Altaf is one of the greatest young rappers in Mumbai and a cornerstone of the Dharavi hip-hop scene.
9. Raja Kumari
Raja Kumari, one of the best-known and most influential Indian female rappers of all time, has achieved enough in the past decade to qualify as one of the all-time greats. Born in California, but raised in Los Angeles, Raja Kumari, the queen of Indian Hip-hop, began to work her way up the hip hop ladder in the 2010s with projects like Curry Sauce Vol. 1 and The Come Up.
The Grammy-nominated rapper has worked with musicians including Fifth Harmony, Iggy Azalea, Gwen Stefani, and Knife Party. After moving to India, she collaborated with Shah Rule, DIVINE, as well as a history-making guest collaboration with Bollywood diva, Madhuri Dixit, on Raja’s “HBIC.” Raja Kumari is well-positioned to become the biggest Indian female rapper in DHH history . The Goddess of Desi Rap is doing exactly what she set out to do.
Catalog: Curry Sauce Vol. 1 (2016), The Come Up (2018), BLOODLINE (2019), HBIC (2022)
10. Dino James
On November 1991, Dino James was born in Ghoradongri, Madhya Pradesh. Dino desired to be an actor, but was disappointed with the opportunities that were offered to him. Throughout his hard times in Mumbai, he struggled with anxiety and depression. Rapper Dino James became well known for his hit songs including “Loser,” “Yaadein,” “Unstoppable,” and “Girlfriend,” which shook the music world with his intense and relatable lyrics. His songs are more grounded in reality and don’t contain words that boast.
With his 2019 single “Tandav,” Dino even showed off his rapping prowess in response to the detractors. On February 23rd, 2022, Dino James inked a deal with Def Jam India, giving his work the much-needed legitimacy. Soon after joining the record label, he dropped his debut album. The album featured a wide variety of music and made him one of the best Mumbai rappers.
Catalog: Chemicals (2019), D (2022)