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Watched ‘Gully Boy’? Now Hear the Story of Mumbai’s Female Rappers

Meet the women changing the history of hip-hop in India.

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Videos
3 min read

Ever been told you couldn’t do something because it’s a “man’s job”? It’s time to shut the haters. For Women’s Day, we present you stories about women who’re acing conventionally male-dominated jobs and smashing ‘StreeOtypes’ along the way!

Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy starring Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt put the spotlight on India’s hip-hop scene but we didn’t see too many women rappers in the film. Why? Watch this video to find the answer.

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Deepa Unnikrishnan aka Dee MC

Mumbai’s most trusted female underground rapper.
Mumbai’s most trusted female underground rapper.
(Photo: The Quint)

If you’ve watched Gully Boy, we bet you didn’t miss Deepa Unnikrishnan aka Dee MC, the only female rapper in Zoya Akhtar’s film. Check out her YouTube channel and you’ll see her spreading messages of women empowerment and gender equality with her music. She feels the underground hip-hop scene has the power to open minds and force people to think differently and that’s exactly what she is trying to do. And that is why she consciously stays away from commercial hip-hop music that speaks about alcohol, drugs, money and women. Hip-hop has been her life for the last seven years but it’s only after her appearance in Gully Boy that people are recognising her talent.

“Bollywood, for a very long time did not accept underground rap saying that it’s too raw. For a very long time Bollywood was just recycling the same type of hip-hop music which is changing now. With Gully Boy awareness about hip-hop has increased. Poetry is a very big part of hip-hop, and is something people are only realising now. People are now letting the artist do the type of music he/she wants to do”.
Deepa Unnikrishnan aka Dee MC

Deane Sequeira

Bollywood’s youngest female rapper, Deane Sequeira.
Bollywood’s youngest female rapper, Deane Sequeira.
(Photo: The Quint)

Deane Sequiera was 16-years-old when she recorded her first track for Bezubaan from the film Any Body Can Dance. She is not only Bollywood’s youngest female rapper, she is also a songwriter and composer. She was always surrounded by music while growing up, her father played the guitar and that was enough to inspire her to hone her skills. She credits her success to her commitment and her father’s faith in her. It’s no secret that Bollywood is male-dominated and that stands true for rappers as well. Even though there’s a dearth of female rappers in Bollywood, she still feels there aren’t enough opportunities for her as a woman rapper.

“I recently graduated and got a job because I don’t think I can rely on being a full-time musician. The opportunities for a female rapper are really low compared to those for a male rapper. When was the last time you heard a female rapper rap an entire three-minute Bollywood song?”
Deane Sequeira
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Gayatri aka Iccy Fire

Dharavi’s only female rapper, Gayatri aka Iccy Fire. 
Dharavi’s only female rapper, Gayatri aka Iccy Fire. 
(Photo: The Quint)

Gayatri is Dharavi’s only female rapper. It took a while for her parents to accept the path she had chosen and she feels that the society is mainly to be blamed for the way people perceive rap, which is probably why almost every second guy in Dharavi raps but no girl does. They feel it’s a must for a girl to wear short clothes and do drugs if she wants to write poetry or rap, she wants to change this very perception with her music.

“Some boys who were learning rap with me didn’t like the fact that I was doing better than them and I got more events. So they always discouraged me. All my girlfriends were asked to not hang out with me. Their parents thought I wasn’t good company and that I’d influence their daughters and that they’d also get into hip-hop looking at me”.
Gayatri aka Iccy Fire

Camera: Sanjoy Deb
Camera assistant: Gautam Sharma
Editor: Veeru Krishan Mohan
Producer: Divya Talwar

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