UNIVESALMass Appeal, the urb­an cul­ture-focused enter­tain­ment com­pany, and Uni­ver­sal Music Group (UMG), the world lead­er in music-based enter­tain­ment, today announced the launch of Mass Appeal India – an innov­at­ive new label ded­ic­ated to amp­li­fy­ing India’s bur­geon­ing hip-hop cul­ture on a glob­al scale.

Mass Appeal India’s oper­a­tions will be based in Mum­bai, with­in Uni­ver­sal Music India’s (UMI) headquar­ters and will func­tion as a multi-chan­nel part­ner­ship between the two com­pan­ies. 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.

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.

To coin­cide with its launch, the label has announced the mar­quee sign­ing of India’s most pop­u­lar and acclaimed rap­per DIVINE. Cent­ral to the rise of the ‘gully rap’ move­ment, with hit singles like ‘Meri Gully Mein’, ‘Jungli Sher’ and ‘Kaam 25’, DIVINE’s bru­tally hon­est Hindi rap draws inspir­a­tion from his own life and the streets of Mum­bai, set to beats that wouldn’t be out of place in a Los Angeles or New York stu­dio. His single ‘Jungli Sher’ was the first Indi­an single that Apple Music released world­wide. DIVINE was also the first Indi­an artist to be fea­tured on BBC 1 Xtra’s ‘Fire In The Booth’ in 2016.

In announ­cing the launch of Mass Appeal India, Nas 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. 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. 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 acclaimed fea­ture film Gully Boy, star­ring Ran­veer Singh, which has also become one of the year’s biggest Bol­ly­wood films at the box office. Gully Boy fea­tured DIVINE in action on five tracks and has helped show­case both him and India’s explos­ive rap scene to new audi­ences around the world.

“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,” DIVINE says of sign­ing with Nas’ Mass Appeal. “He 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,” he adds.

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.”

Peter Bit­ten­bend­er, CEO of Mass Appeal, said, “Com­ing off what has been a land­mark year for Mass Appeal, we are bey­ond thrilled to announce the glob­al expan­sion of our brand in part­ner­ship with UMI and with DIVINE as our first super­star tal­ent sign­ing. This new ven­ture is an incred­ibly excit­ing exten­sion of Mass Appeal’s strategy to pro­gress the con­ver­sa­tion and land­scape of hip hop by tak­ing our brand to the most excit­ing glob­al mar­kets.”

DIVINE is cur­rently work­ing on his debut album, Kohinoor set to be released later this year.


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Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal

Edit­or / PR Con­sult­ant at No Bounds
Rishma Dhali­w­al has extens­ive exper­i­ence study­ing and work­ing in the music and media industry. Hav­ing writ­ten a thes­is on how Hip Hop acts as a social move­ment, she has spent years research­ing and con­nect­ing with artists who use the art form as a tool for bring­ing a voice to the voice­less. Cur­rently work­ing in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media know­ledge to I am Hip Hop and oth­er pro­jects by No Bounds.

About Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal
Rishma Dhaliwal has extensive experience studying and working in the music and media industry. Having written a thesis on how Hip Hop acts as a social movement, she has spent years researching and connecting with artists who use the art form as a tool for bringing a voice to the voiceless. Currently working in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media knowledge to I am Hip Hop and other projects by No Bounds.