After winning one of the most well-liked reality competitions in India, a 23-year-old rapper who was raised in a slum has gained widespread attention.
Until recently, MC Stan, a native of the western state of Maharashtra, was only well-known to hip-hop and rap fans who admired his brash rhymes and unapologetic mannerisms.
However, since he appeared on the most recent season of Bigg Boss, the Indian equivalent of UK's Big Brother, his fanbase has grown by millions. His name has been trending on social media since Sunday when actor Salman Khan, the show's host, declared him the winner.
Fans and viewers have praised Stan as India's "savior of hip-hop" and praised his "raw and real personality.". Ranveer Singh, a star in the Bollywood industry, and singer Honey Singh, who dubbed Stan the "Indian Lil Wayne," are among the new fans of his music.
Long before he entered the Bigg Boss house, Stan, like many other rappers, had caused controversy. He has drawn criticism for his use of sexually explicit and abusive lyrics, disrespect for women, and obscene attacks on his competitors. His ex-girlfriend reported him to the police last year, accusing him of assault. Despite the police starting an investigation, no one was arrested.
The rapper hasn't publicly responded to the allegations, but in October he stated that he joined Bigg Boss to "change the perception people have of me.".
However, according to his ardent supporters, the rapper's combative style is a natural extension of hip-hop's distinctive socio-political grammar, which captures the concerns of people who grew up without privilege.
Altaf Tadavi, aka Stan, started performing in front of crowds when he was 12 years old. His family has not received much attention, but his humble upbringing in a Pune city slum has influenced much of his writing.
"I feel like I am a hood baby [someone who grew up on the streets]," he said in an interview with Platform magazine. "I saw a lot of criminal activity and did not lead a very privileged life.".
Growing up, Stan claims that qawwali, a style of Sufi devotional singing that has similarities to gospel jazz, provided him with an unusual framework that improved his understanding of music. According to him, the qawwali "talks about stuff that wakes you up," and he found that to be very relatable.
Stan wasn't frequently interviewed by the media prior to his time on Bigg Boss. He told Platform that his brother had first introduced him to rap greats like Lil Wayne, 50 Cent, and Eminem when he was a high school student. Stan was moved by their music, and after that, he spent countless hours researching them in seedy cyber cafes.
Two years later, he made the decision to give it a shot. He started by sending his rap videos to his loved ones and posting them on WhatsApp. As soon as he started to gain attention, he started a YouTube channel, which has since gained more than six million subscribers. He also started to take his art more seriously.
His songs started to become more political (and the lyrics more vulgar), and the videos became very stylized. His expression remained genuine despite the visuals' jerky jump cuts and flashy neon sets, which some may have found amateurish.
Stan also developed into a surprising fashion icon. The rapper has introduced hip-hop fashion to Indians with his funky hair extensions, pastel-punk dreadlocks, tattoos, and visible diamond chains.
Rapping was as accidental for Stan as discovering hip-hop was, he told Platform: "It was like I was some alien who has come from outer space with some new stuff to show to the people who live here.".
In 2019, he wrote Khuja Mat (Don't Mess With Me), which was his big break. Millions of people viewed the diss track on YouTube, which he created in retaliation for another rapper who criticized him. .
According to Dustin Yarde, a fan who first heard the musician through the song, "What I really loved was his flow and ability to incorporate absolute nonsense into his lyrics and still sound catchy.".
Since the release of Khuja Mat, Stan has had a number of hit songs, particularly those from his 2020 album Tadipaar. Stan explores his life in "P-town," or Pune, in the album with the same name. It contains scathing commentary on surviving and living in dangerous neighborhoods. He went by the name Basti ka Hasti, which is roughly translated as the young street kid who wrote his own future.
He sneers, "You woke up to sunshine, I woke up to guns and violence," in the song Amin. "Tune subhe uthke sun dekha, mene subhe uthke gun dekha.".
According to fans, Stan had a lifelong interest in using music to define himself.
He once recorded a song titled "Astaghfirullah" in which he discussed his Muslim identity and how his community views him as a rapper, according to Mr. Yarde.
According to some, Stan is the father of mumble rap, an ambiguously defined subgenre of rap in which the singer mumbles rhymes without putting much emphasis on lyricism, in India. According to Canadian fan Aziz Malik, "His songs are honest conversations that sound dangerously revelatory when wrapped over a blown-out icy beat.".
Nevertheless, Mr. Yarde claims that he did not like many of Stan's most recent songs because "it seems like he uses homophobic and sexist content as expressions of victory and power.".
But I've always believed he could succeed in the big time. I'm watching to see how his lyrics develop. ".
The rapper, who claims to have been incarcerated at one point, has written several songs about police brutality. Stan discusses how he was falsely accused of killing someone in the song Section 307, which refers to the murder charge in the Indian Penal Code.
Every track, however, is a journey of self-evolution for his followers. The subtext is the conflict between who he was and who he made himself out to be. No matter how difficult his life had been, he overcame the challenges on his own, Mr. Malik claims. His music serves as a reminder of this.
Stan brought his capacity for interpersonal interaction to Bigg Boss.
His charisma, tough talk, and natural talent won over both contestants and fans. His pithy one-liners, including "Shemdi," "appreciate you," "Haq se," and "feel you bro," gained notoriety and entered common parlance.
The way he adapted to the opulent sets without losing sight of his roots impressed viewers as well. And whenever he performed on the show, including an impromptu rap number while breathing helium from a balloon, fans would post about it on social media for days. For them, Stan had succeeded in doing what was thought to be impossible: bringing rap, which was on the periphery of Indian music, into the mainstream.
Stan wrote on Facebook after winning, "We created history, stayed true throughout, and rapped hip-hop on national television.". "My mother's dream has come true," you say. "Ammi ka sapna poora ho gaya."