UMG partners with Nas' Mass Appeal to take India's hip-hop artists global

UMG partners with Nas' Mass Appeal to take India's hip-hop artists global

Urban culture entertainment company Mass Appeal – founded by rapper Nas – has partnered with Universal Music Group on a label dedicated to India’s growing hip-hop culture.

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. The label will sign and collaborate with artists and work with brands and content creators to connect the culture with a worldwide audience. 

The partnership will see Mass Appeal India leverage UMI’s marketing and promotion teams within India, while Mass Appeal will lead release strategy within the US 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 signing of India’s popular rapper Divine. His track Jungli Sher was the first Indian single that Apple Music released worldwide. Divine was also the first Indian artist to be featured on BBC Radio 1Xtra’s Fire In The Booth in 2016.

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.” 

“It’s an honour to be associated with a legend like Nas,” said Divine. “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.

“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 and 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.”

PHOTO: (bottom row) Adam Granite, Divine, Nas (top row) Peter Bittenbender, Devraj Sanyal, Chaitanya Kataria

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