With the growing limelight on the hip-hop scene of India, also came a time when people started experimenting with its cornucopia of sub-genres. Many people started getting into beatboxing and with that came a new wave of artists who would not only rap their verses but also try to emulate different musical instruments through their mouths to accompany their rapping.
Though the beatboxing scene in India was relatively confined to small club shows and underground competitions, it started to see a gradual rise in the number of artists experimenting with this sub-genre. But even so, there was a lack of incentive from any designated organization to promote this art form or inspire artists to take it to the next level.
What Is BBXINDIA?
Cue 2016, when Beatboxing India, a national-level organization took it upon itself to promote beatboxing in the country globally. Co-fronted by beatboxers Raka Vee and Divya Dhillon, and festival director Richard Noel, BBXINDIA has been instrumental in breathing life into this dying scene through multiple festivals, competitions, and shows, garnering attention and support from other similar subcultures and the art industry at the same time. They moved forward with only one agenda – to induce beatboxing into the mainstream culture.
And to carry out their goals, BBXINDIA conducted a bunch of club shows across three cities in the country – Delhi, Pune, and Mumbai. Titled The Great Indian Beatbox Festival, the events featured an array of artists across multiple sub-genres of hip-hop including beatboxing who went on to compete against each other to earn their spot at the Indian Beatbox Festival, a pan-Indian level beatbox championship that was recently held at Roaring Farm in Mumbai.
The Great Indian Beatbox Festival turned out to be quite a success in every state where it took place, making space for beatboxing to thrive in all its colours in the indie music scene of the country. “The agenda for this festival was to make the statement that beatbox is music. That became the major purpose for us to indulge the beatbox industry and the music industry together under the roof,” says Raka Vee, the founder, and director of BBXINDIA.
BBXINDIA’s Great Indian Beatbox Festival Was Every Beatboxer’s Moment To Shine
The Great Indian Beatbox Festival provided a platform for rappers, beatboxers, and dancers to come together under one umbrella and flaunt their talents. “Being a festival & performing arts curator, my motive is completely on creating a gateway for the beatboxers to enter the mainstream entertainment business,” says Richard. “This festival is a representation of the Indian beatboxing community inviting other art forms to showcase what they got in front of them,” he adds. According to him, this festival has the potential to go down in the history of the Indian beatboxing community.
The event graciously elevated the beatboxing scene from its underground days while also scrounging out new talent from every state where it took place. Its participants’ roster piled up as no one would let go of this golden opportunity to show the world what they were all about. “To promote the art of beatboxing around the nation is the only concern for me and my team. And this is going to help others witness the maximum ability of a beatboxer,” comments Divya Dhillon, the CEO, and head of marketing of BBXINDIA.
What Do the Artists Have to Say?
And it is needless to say that both the participants and the audience took home some fond memories from these gigs.
“BBXINDIA had come to Pune city because they were traveling across India in different cities. That’s how we got associated with them,” says Leo from Street Beats Crew, a hip-hop collective from Pune. The group which claims to be one of the first Pune-based hip-hop collectives has been there in the scene for 10 years.
“When Raka Vee came to Pune, he contacted me and asked me to get as many people as possible for The Great Indian Beatbox Festival,” adds BumBeats, a beatboxer from the same crew. “It was a good show. We had a crazy rap showcase from our crew. It was a good experience overall,” he claims.
“To pull out such an amazing jam in Pune was a feat because the city lacks a proper hip-hop audience. Although there are a lot of artists here, when there are club shows, people don’t turn up. But this event was fire, there was great energy!” exclaims HotFix, another rapper from the same crew.
Delhi-based beatboxer and percussionist Mohit Butta was always on the lookout for other beatboxers like him since his school days. That is how he stumbled upon BBXINDIA. “It was really new to us. They had one small website which was not very operative back in those days. I saw a few names and eventually, I got to know about this battle that happened in Delhi in 2015 or 2016. Rendezvous in IIT Delhi. That’s where I met everyone, the whole BBXINDIA crew and other Delhi beatboxers,” he recalls.
Butta soon set his mind to organizing a beatboxing battle in his home state and contacted Raka Vee to get his team to the Delhi chapter of the Great Indian Beatbox Festival. “I knew Raka was in Delhi and asked him to come on board with us and let’s do this as one thing,” he explains.
“I have known a lot of these people from BBXINDIA for a long time now and within Delhi we have been very active as a community and it has been great working with them as well. It shows a great joint effort from BBXINDIA and the Delhi beatboxing community,” comments Prateek Nair, a beatboxer representing the Pint crew who was also instrumental in making the event happen in the National Capital. “A lot of new beatboxers have been coming up in Delhi in the recent years and it has just been growing steadily,” he adds.
Mumbai’s stint with the festival also turned out to be a fruitful venture. According to Yeda Anna and Inspectah G, two of the performing artists in the event, Richard approached them personally asking them to participate. “The most exciting thing about the entire crowd was that they were supportive of everybody who was coming and performing. TTDP (The Dharavi Dream Project) who also came to the event had a chhoti (child) girl rapper who was so good that even I walked on stage. Everybody was extremely supportive,” comments Inspectah G.
“I was the last performer. I only performed two tracks. By the time I took the stage, everybody had already gone and there were 40-50 people in the house and we had a mad mosh-pit. All the beatboxers went crazy. Some guy even poured champagne on me!” exclaimed Yeda Anna.
Beatboxer Sebastian Gracias aka Crash who also performed at the event says, “Although the event got delayed a lot and the start was a bit clumsy, as the performances took place it was obvious that the line-up was crazy. There were beatboxers from all over the state. You could see all kinds of styles being presented on the stage.” “The vibe, the sound production, everything was bang on. This was a great idea from the masterminds of the event,” he adds.
“The Great Indian Beatbox Festival really lived up to its name. Everyone who was invited to perform there was very happy with their performances and the others as well. It was a well-planned event,” says Wah Da Fu from Desible. “We were just so excited to meet the whole community. Not just the Mumbai community but the whole Indian beatboxing community,” he adds.
“We saw the tour happening across different cities like in Pune and we were very excited that it was going to happen in Mumbai. We couldn’t wait to perform and enjoy ourselves,” comments Shivali Joshi, another beatboxer from the group.
The Indian Beatboxing Championship Opened Many Doors for the Performing Artists
BBXINDIA had a pandora’s box full of other treats for the artists in 2022. The winners of The Great Indian Beatbox Festival would go on to perform at what could be termed as the watershed moment in the history of Indian beatboxing – The Indian Beatboxing Championship that took place following BBXINDIA’s collaboration with Swiss Beatbox, the global beatboxing organization and Berywam – the current world champions who were also the runners-up of America’s Got Talent and the winners of France Got Talent.
“As an organization, BBXINDIA is an official beatboxing organization in India that has connections with every other world beatbox organization. Through them, we connected with the French Beatboxing Community. We got in touch with Berywam and tried to understand their target audience. As it turned out, one of their largest listenership is in India,” explains Raka Vee. “They were very interested in tapping into India’s market,” he adds.
The event which was judged by MadTwinz, Berywam, and Swiss Beatbox, featured not only the winners of The Great Indian Beatbox Festival but also several other artists who had signed up for the competition. The winners would go on to represent India at the world finals in Germany in 2023. And this accolade was snatched away by Desible, ISOLate, Anyvox, Deliverance, ABX, in the crew, solo junior, Loopstation, Tag Team, and solo categories respectively. God Mode, Omran, Kevin, BJ, and Crash took home the Vice-Champion awards for the same categories.
What Implications Does BBXINDIA’s Effort Have on The Beatboxing Scene in India?
BBXINDIA’s efforts in creating a platform for beatboxing in the mainstream arena have quite a few implications for the future of this art form in the country. With Indian beatboxing coming under global attention through Swiss Beatbox and Berywam’s intervention in the arena, it could turn out to be one of the best possible things to have happened to this sub-culture in recent years. As for the artists performing in the Grand Beatbox Battle World Championship, it could open up a multitude of possibilities for them on an international platform and expose them to many opportunities to make it big in the world beatbox scene. And maybe, with consistent effort, BBXINDIA will be successful in bringing about a significant change in the current beatbox atmosphere in the country – one that will encourage more people to try their hands at it.