All 10 episodes of Red Bull 64 Bars in India will be available on the YouTube channel of Gully Gang Entertainment.
A global project which has travelled the world now reaches India to ask its new, notable and seasoned hip-hop artists to step up and speak their mind for Red Bull 64 Bars. The series brings in 10 rappers from around the country who worked with Mumbai’s ace beatsmith Karan Kanchan to create a new track that’s all bars as part of season 1.
The format is straightforward, although it does involve a bit of understanding of rhythm and beats. In music (and specifically hip-hop) a single bar is a measure of four counts over a beat. For 64 bars, that means there’s room enough for approximately two minutes of words. Usually, a bar is one aspect of rap vocals, which often form the verse of a song and then there’s the chorus or the hook.
With Red Bull 64 Bars, artists get a chance to forego the temptation to craft a catchy refrain, instead of focusing on their lyrics and cadence in the span of 64 bars in a free verse fashion.
We caught up with the artists involved in this edition of Red Bull 64 Bars to talk about the format and how it made for a challenge, plus what it means for hip-hop in India.
Red Bull 64 Bars for me is about if I have something in my heart to say to my fans or if a rapper wants to flex and we have one track to say our piece, I can say it to their face. It’s our free verse in 64 bars. It’s a free feeling without any apprehensions about what you can or can’t say. Whatever is in your heart and touches the heart of the listeners, that’s what 64 Bars is all about.
64 Bars is really relevant as a challenge or even as a project for hip-hop in India because it stays true to the essence of what hip-hop is meant to be. And nowadays with the music genres that keep coming out, it kind of doesn't make artists push the pen and this certain project makes an artist push his or her pen, to do better.
It’s definitely a challenge to be able to speak sense, keep your audience engaged, keep them listening to every second, making sure every minute or even every bar of what you write is fresh… It has to be something that people will want to listen to. I took it on because I wanted to definitely give it my best.
I'm so happy that they've introduced the series in India because it gives all of us a chance in the desi hip-hop scene and other artists to witness what the true essence of hip-hop is like, so I'm really excited and I can't wait.
I think it is a great initiative. Red Bull 64 Bars brings attention to the lyricism and writing Indian rappers are capable of. For me, I have been rapping for over a decade and a half. Spitting bars comes naturally; it was a good outlet though.
It definitely will bring attention to quality of bars we are able to spit as rappers. It is different from the usual hook-verse-hook-verse structure that some listeners are accustomed to.
I’m a huge fan of lyricism – it’s something I place at the centre of whatever I write. It was a very exciting process for me. I also love to write melodies and catchy hooks and all of that. A really nice way of telling a story is often not to have any of those repeating parts and just have a narrative from start to finish. I was really excited to do that [with Red Bull 64 Bars].
I think it’s wonderful. Hip-hop is blowing up in a big way in India and around the world. I think that for the Indian music listening public to have a show like this to discover artists – there’s so much hidden talent – feels like a great platform.
I think it’s going to be game-changing. After MTV Hustle and Gully Boy, the hype that’s come from the youth… everybody wants to be a rapper nowadays. As an intellectual property, Red Bull 64 Bars is going to change the game. It’s going to show us who the cream of the crop is and how actual witty bars are going to sound. I’m so stoked.
Hum Delhi se hai and wahaan ka lyric game already bohot zyada strong hai, so you know I gotta represent. I used to release a free verse every Friday for a year during the pandemic, comprising 16 bars. I did that for 50 episodes. When Karan (Kanchan), Red Bull and I got on the video call, they said, ‘Let’s do something you haven’t already done’. I’ve done a lot of genres, so we came up with drill, which I hadn’t done before. Four free verses for me so that was easy for me. I owned it.
As a lyricist, you should be constantly refining and challenging your pen to do go harder with every verse and Red Bull 64 Bars is the perfect exercise for that. Coming at a time when Indian hip-hop is shining brighter than ever, bars are fully in the forefront where it should be and there’s no better way to showcase that.
Red Bull 64 Bars will redefine the standard for bars in multiple languages all over India and educate the forthcoming generation of rappers and lyricists. I rep hard for English rap in India so my intention is to always raise the bar and push the wave for more English rappers within the scene.
This format is as much as relevant as it is in foreign countries, especially in this generation of rap music, where if you are too wordy, you are corny and if you’re too catchy you are bubblegum pop. I guess it’s good for the ‘growth’ of the scene, showcasing skills. Cyphers are a dying ritual in this time and age.
It wasn't a challenge at all for me… mind you I do these things in my sleep. You can't challenge a pen that is always writing without running out of words. I was called upon… to show people why I am the best in the world… and I did.
Red Bull 64 Bars is like a perfect opportunity to speak your mind and showcase your penmanship. It’s just bars and bars… so you can really let loose and tell your story.
It’s pretty relevant not just for hip-hop in India but in general, because it’s a multi-national series. What it does is show different, raw, unadulterated parts of hip-hop and it puts that in the forefront for people to see. It’s a one-of-a-kind project for hip-hop in India. The audience can witness their favourite rappers pushing themselves over a longer period of time. It’s a very different concept that way and it’s great to see.
It shows your penmanship, your endurance and your technical know-how as a songwriter, storyteller, lyricist and rapper. This is one of the only platforms where you get to see these skills being honed by your favourite rappers.
I hope that the series will make people see the bars aspect of hip-hop instead of just catchy hooks and just making party records and all of that.
To me, Red Bull 64 Bars is an opportunity for me as an MC to connect with the audience one-on-one, just through words creating a picture and a method for storytelling. It’s a way to directly connect with the audience, that’s what it is for me.
I think Red Bull 64 Bars is a good chance for independent artists to showcase what they’re capable of. These guys also tend to curate and pick the artists not just according to one style or language. There’s a bunch of versatility. It’s important to showcase what the nation as a whole can bring.
For me, it was business as usual if anything. It was fun. Of course, I’ve done this before, but it being a Red Bull thing – we switched it up a little bit and bring in changes in accordance to what I do.
Each person is bringing their own style and essence. I have faith it will show a different side. It won’t be these set formats that’s replicated a lot. I’m excited to see how people will react to it. It’s just a mic and a person, nothing too fancy – just music.