Link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voZv9trgIv0
India, 15th April 2021 – Multi-platinum rapper DIVINE a.k.a. Vivian Fernandes has been riding the hip hop wave all through the pandemic last year on the back of the successful release of his sophomore album ‘Punya Paap’ via hip-hop titan Nas and Universal Music’s new glocal label Mass Appeal India and Indian hip-hop conglomerate Gully Gang Entertainment, which has garnered a robust 500 million cumulative streams, as well as acquired for him the plum pedigree of being the first Indian rapper to feature on the Times Square Billboard in New York.
Despite all the rap ascendancy that was unleashed during the release of Punya Paap, 30-year-old DIVINE makes it clear that he’s not nearly done and his prolific streak continues. Breathing a fresh lease of life into ‘Punya Paap’, the Indian rap prodigy has teamed up with award-winning American music video and film director Gil Green for the music video of his break-free celebratory track ‘Rider’ feat multi-lingual Indian American singer-songwriter Lisa Mishra from his last released 11-track album.
Having directed over 200 music videos spanning across the Pop, Latin, and European markets, Green’s client roster includes the likes of multi-platinum artists such as Adam Levine, John Legend, Pitbull, Chris Brown, Akon, Lil Wayne, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Drake, DJ Khaled, Camila Cabello, Usher, P-Diddy, J Balvin, 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg and Sean Paul amongst others.
Produced by promising part-time beatsmith Kanch aka Unmesh Walwatkar and ace producer Stunnah Beatz, ‘Rider’ narrates a quotidian tale of conquering hardships and shortcomings through hustle and hardwork which is neatly embroidered around the ethos of human relationships presented though the track’s smooth word play and icy lyrics jointly written by Shah Rule, DIVINE and Lisa Mishra
The music video which was scrupulously shot in ever evolving, ever captivating city of Dubai in association with media platform Sole captures the exceptional artistic compatibility between DIVINE and Lisa Mishra.
The selection of shoot locales for authentic hip hop hit maker, who inspired Bollywood director Zoya Akhtar’s Ranveer Singh starrer ‘Gully Boy’ comprised of the city’s hottest hotspots. Featuring the eclectic city’s much-frequented mainstays- Dubai Opera, Burj Khalifa, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai World Trade Centre to City Walk, Burj al Arab, Madinat Jumeirah, Palm Jumeirah and the iconic desert safari, the music video of ‘Rider’ serves as a great video that showcases the blend of extravagant modernism and traditional heritage that the burgeoning emirate of UAE embraces. The shoot was smoothly executed maintaining all mandatory safety and hygiene protocols in the wake of the resurgent pandemic.
Gil Green’s creative palette for this music video is inspired from the rousing juxtaposition and the stark realism surrounding DIVINE’s personal rags-to-riches tale and is conceptually depicted through a poignant love saga between a deprived dreamer (DIVINE) and an affluent boss woman (Lisa Mishra) that is punctuated due to the shackles of class and economics. Flip flopping from the grime gullies of the humble Mumbai slums into the jet setting modern milieu of Dubai, Gil Green presents the tale of struggle and success through recurrent transition shots, from a 10-year-old almost broke kid navigating his recycled go kart through crude shanties with his upscale love interest by his side, cut to 20 years later, the very same teenager cruising around in his high-powered sports car and treating his long-time love interest to a life of flamboyance and luxury.
DIVINE states, “Rider is a song that is very close to my heart and I feel blessed to have worked with a legend like Gil and his entire team that fulfilled the vision I had for this music video. Lisa has been an amazing and a fun collaborator to work with, easy to see that her voice and personality together in the video shines right through. A huge shout out to Stunnah Beatz & Kanch for this soul hitting beat. It was an amazing experience to shoot in Dubai and the eclectic vibe added great visual depth to the track.”
Lisa Mishra states, “Last summer DIVINE made an Instagram post asking his fans who he should work with on his album. I thought I’d shoot my shot in the comments and see if I got lucky. And just like that, he messaged me that he had an idea and was going to send it over. When I got the scratch, his verse and the hook had been written and he left the second half empty for me. I loved the message of the song, about an independent woman who he’s so comfortable with it goes beyond just a relationship. I wrote the English with that in mind and he added the Hindi lyrics and melody for my portion. When we went in to record, I think the session was less than 45 minutes. It was just perfect from the start and such a great vibe with him and Stunnah. The audio sounds so effortless because it really was that smooth a process. With regards to the video, DIVINE told me he had a classic hip hop video in mind with a nod to his come-up. Dubai was a perfect backdrop for that dream and we had the incredible Gil Green and the Sole crew who were so great that I would repeat the process twenty more times if it meant working with all of them again. I think in the end the video perfectly captured two dreamers and their hustle, and hopefully the audiences resonate with that.”
Gil Green states, “I want to send a big shout out to DIVINE and the Gully Gang for collaborating with me on this video. Being a part of DIVINE’s massive influence in India’s hip hop movement is something special to me. The art form is truly universal, and DIVINE continues to push the hip hop boundaries with his music, lyrics, style, and presence.”
Riding on the success of his critically acclaimed debut album ‘Kohinoor,’ the rap royalty fiercely returned in prime form for the slickly-produced 11-track ‘Punya Paap’ in 2020, a showcase that voyaged across the themes of virtue and sin and saw seamless collaborative integrations with ace Indian producers such as Stunnah Beatz aka Rajdeep Sinha, Karan Kanchan, Phenom aka Pinaki Rattan, Shah Rule amongst others.
With the inclusion of an impressive slew of bubbly collaborations such as American rap mogul Nas, Grammy winning Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Cocoa Sarai, British rapper Dutchavelli, Grammy winning producer iLL Wayno and London-based dancehall artiste Stylo G, the album’s title with its’ stick-to-your-ribs soul samples and top-tier lyricism drew inspiration from the popular bar from the hip hop superstar’s 2019 single ‘Kohinoor’ – ‘saathvi se saath dost ab bhi mere saath hai / abhi bhi karte punya, abhi bhi karte paap hai’.
‘Punya Paap’ aptly served as a quintessential exhibition of why audiences love the A-list rap gamechanger, with earworm melodies over vibrant, often-quaking thumping production. It was a typical DIVINE fare – walking along the tightrope of emotive lyrical rap that he is known to maneuver so fluently, it was commanding and honest yet unapologetic and vulnerable. The no-skip perceptive album brought to the fore a fresh vulnerability and showcased the rap millennial superstar’s proficiency at crafting radio-ready anthems. The captivating and mature work offered a heady auditory experience, supercharged-up with authentic insights reflecting the gritty street life, crispy songwriting, blazing bars and ornate harmonies with the leading light of Indian hip hop inflicting his high energy flows, proffering a variety of emotions and synthy futuristic soundscapes for listeners to immerse in. He powered through the familiar hi-hats and hues of contemporary hip hop with muscle and confidence, placing his success in conversation with his struggles, each track’s culmination offering an interlude-like build into the next track. The heavy-duty polished album reinvigorated interest in the rap firestarter’s unique take on hip-hop mixed with disco-themed, dancefloor friendly blend of rap, reggaeton, dancehall, R&B and other subcultures’ aesthetics. From top to bottom, the richly detailed album reflected a draped-up and dripped-out vibe and it was hard not to fall deep into DIVINE’s world and want to reside there for the album’s entirety!
PUNYA PAAP TRACKLIST
- 3:59 AM – DIVINE – In his trademark style DIVINE draws the curtains up on his album, tugging on heartstrings as he ushers in nostalgia and captures his hip hop evolution, interlacing the iconic choir sample from the French film Les Choristes (The Chorus) with exemplary stripped-back production from Stunnah on the adrenaline-inducing track
- Mera Bhai – DIVINE – Acknowledging the importance of loyalty and belief in oneself in a world adorned by egotism, the track serves as an autobiographical rendition of DIVINE’s journey over the last 2 decades.
- Walking Miracle – DIVINE ft. Nas & Cocoa Sarai – Produced by Grammy winning writer iLL Wayno, this track would make it to the top of the list if a James Bond film were to ever feature a hip-hop soundtrack. DIVINE and Nas’s emotive verses punctuated with Sarai’s gut-wrenching chorus and iLL Wayno’s multi-layered composition on the track are hard to miss as they cinematically touch upon every bar with poise and panache
- Satya – DIVINE – Stirring up a 90’s-esque vibe, the track pays a thunderous ode to the city of Mumbai and the bygone era of Bollywood films. Sampling the classic track Goli Maar Bheje Mein from the Ram Gopal Varma directed film, the OG wrecking crew comprising of DIVINE and Karan Kanchan unite to wreak havoc
- Mirchi – DIVINE ft. Stylo G, MC Altaf & Phenom – The saucy single that topped the charts on major audio streaming platforms upon release, weaves around the earnest philosophy of seeking out the person of ones’ admiration and the extent a man would travel to win the heart of his woman
- Disco Rap – DIVINE ft. D’Evil, MC Altaf – Produced by Delhi based NDS and Karan Kanchan, it is a jazzy upbeat anthem that narrates idiosyncratic experiences of an average night out in Mumbai with trademark word play, pop culture references and colloquialisms tinged with hues and phrases synonymous with the city.
- Shehnai – DIVINE – Produced by Stunnah, the track takes on a biographical stance as it navigates through DIVINE’s personal trials, tribulations and success owing to his loyalist fan army
- Rider – DIVINE ft. Lisa Mishra – Produced by Stunnah in conjunction with budding talent Kanch, the absolute ear-worm throws in shades of sounds from the 2000’s golden era of R&B as the artists explore themes of love and friendship.
- Top 5 D.O.A. – DIVINE – The track with an eerie note of gratitude serves as a sublime interlude for the listener and isolating itself from the hefty bangers featured on the album
- Drill Karte – DIVINE ft. Dutchavelli – Hot on the heels of their recent collaboration on the viral smash and UK’s defining rap cuts, ‘Bando Diaries’, this icy track sees them join forces once again for another banger, bridging Indian hip-hop and UK drill as it offers perceptive vignettes of stories from the streets of London and the gullies of Mumbai
- Punya Paap – DIVINE – A fiery rendition about wins, losses and rebirth, the track transforms as a universal call for collective transformation – an embrace of solidarity and unification at a time of enormous worldwide exploitation and polarization