Universal Music India (UMI) and Mass Appeal, the New York based urban-focused media and content company has announced the launch of a new age hip-hop label, Mass Appeal India. With an aim to amplify the thriving hip-hop culture in India, Mass Appeal India’s operations will be based in Mumbai, within UMG’s India headquarters.
Rapper Nas’ Mass Appeal forayed into India with the marquee signing of DIVINE, one of the most-streamed independent artists in the subcontinent and synonymous with the rise of “gully rap”.
“It’s an honour to be associated with a legend like Nas. I grew up listening to his music. For him to recognise not just me, but the whole Indian hip-hop scene is a big win for hip-hop, and for hip-hop in India,” said DIVINE.
Nas was first introduced to DIVINE’s music through the Zoya Akhtar film Gully Boy. Nas and DIVINE also collaborated on a promo song for the film, ‘NY Se Mumbai‘ back in February.
Elated with the signing of the rapper, said Nas,
“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.”
Mass Appeal India will sign and collaborate with the brightest stars 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.
“He (Nas) is looking forward to working not just with me, but a lot of the young talent 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,” added DIVINE, who is slated to release his studio album, Kohinoor, later this year.
Mass Appeal India will leverage UMI’s marketing and promotion teams within India, whilst Mass Appeal will lead release strategy within the U.S. and Canada. 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.
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. We are excited to work together with Nas, Peter, DIVINE, Devraj and the UMI team to launch Mass Appeal India, which we believe will become India’s premier dedicated hip-hop brand.”
Granite believes that 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.
Devraj Sanyal, MD & CEO of UMG, India & South Asia said,“Over the past few years, UMI has concentrated on creating a culture of artist-first, non-film music to satisfy India’s rapidly evolving music audience. Hip-hop has been a key area of this focus and we have found the natural partner in Mass Appeal, Nas & Peter to help realise our dream of breaking Indian hip-hop in the region, as well as to the rest of the world together.”
“It was only right to lead this global announcement with the signing of India’s number one hip-hop star, DIVINE for his highly anticipated debut album. As he articulately puts it, “Apna Time Aayega” which means, “our time will come” – now is certainly the time for Indian Hip-Hop to break into the mainstream.”
A little over a year ago UMG announced a multi-year global deal with Mass Appeal which encompassed the exclusive distribution of physical and digital formats for recorded music and short-form video content. It also provided Mass Appeal with the ability to strategically leverage UMG’s marketing and promotion teams.