Mass Appeal and Universal Music Group today announced the launch of Mass Appeal India – a new label dedicated to amplifying India’s burgeoning hip-hop culture on a global scale.
The new label’s operations will be based Universal Music India’s headquarters in Mumbai and will function as a multi-channel partnership between the two companies. According to the announcement, Mass Appeal India will sign and collaborate with the artists from India’s fastest-growing music scene and, through Mass Appeal’s global network, will work with brands and content creators to connect the culture with a worldwide audience. All releases from Mass Appeal India will be distributed exclusively via UMG worldwide, with additional support across its network of more than 60 territories for select artists and projects.
To coincide with its launch, the label has announced the marquee signing of popular Indian rapper Divine, who Variety recently covered in its profile of the country’s hip-hop scene. A key player in the rise of the country’s “gully rap” movement, Divine’s music draws inspiration from his own life and the streets of Mumbai, set to beats that wouldn’t be out of place in the U.S.
In announcing the launch of Mass Appeal India, legendary rapper Nas, who is co-head of Mass Appeal Records, said, “I was first introduced to Divine’s music through the brilliant film ‘Gully Boy.’ I’m proud to announce the launch of Mass Appeal India with Divine as the first artist on our roster. Hip-hop is the world’s most influential culture – it’s only right to share what we do at Mass Appeal on a global level. We’re excited about joining forces with the team at UMG India to help further spark a movement that is constantly in the making.”
Adam Granite, EVP, Market Development, Universal Music Group, said, “For many years hip-hop, regardless of local language, has been growing rapidly around the world as the authentic sound of the streets. The emergence of Mass Appeal India and the signing of Divine will only fuel the next wave of Indian hip-hop and rap talent and help accelerate the growth and reach of the genre in India, the subcontinent and beyond.”
Divine’s story and rise of the Indian hip-hop scene inspired Bollywood director Zoya Akhtar’s 2019 feature film “Gully Boy,” starring Ranveer Singh, which has also become one of the year’s biggest Bollywood films at the box office. The film featured Divine performing five songs.
“It’s an honor to be associated with a legend like Nas,” Divine said. “I grew up listening to his music. For him to recognize not just me, but the whole Indian hip-hop scene is a big win for hip-hop, and for hip-hop in India. I will be working with Mass Appeal India not just in a personal capacity, but also in my capacity as founder of Gully Gang Entertainment to help Mass Appeal India build a thriving ecosystem for urban music and culture in the sub-continent. So, let’s bring our A-Game because the world is watching,” he adds.