Dharavi, Hip-Hop and A Visit from SlumGods

Dharavi is one of the world’s largest slums with an estimated population of one million people. Amazingly, Dharavi powers an informal economy that generates over 600 million US dollars in revenue every year. But overwhelmingly, the images that come to people’s minds when Dharavi is mentioned are negative.

One of the organizations working to dispel the negative image of Dharavi and the slums is an inspiring hip-hop community of dancers and musicians called SlumGods. Their name is a play on the movie Slumdog Millionaire which depicted only Dharavi’s dark side. They want people to know that Dharavi is more, much more than poverty and crime. They do this in a few different ways, including by teaching recreational hip hop classes to children.

Their mission statement says “….we give back to the community by arranging recreational hip-hop classes for the children of Dharavi. We want to share the music and culture that has inspired us and give kids a place to develop their talent and fill their free time with positive activities that keep them away from trouble.” To learn more about the work SlumGods does with children in Dharavi, watch this documentary: The SlumGods of Mumbai: Hope, hip-hop and the Dharavi Way.

Hip-hop is a not just a genre of music and dance, but rather a social and cultural movement. Hip-hop in it’s true form deals with social issues and conflicts. We couldn’t think of a better way for our girls to spend their Christmas Eve than learning break-dancing and the meaning of hip-hop so we asked SlumGods to conduct a workshop for our students.

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Three crew members (one of the co-founders Akku, B-Boy Sagar and B-Girl Donna) taught our girls the elementary moves in break-dancing or breaking while talking to them about individuality and having their own style! The girls had a blast while also learning about a cultural movement. B-Boy Akku was quick to differentiate true hip-hop from the lyrics of Honey Singh which was an important lesson for our girls. Enkore, a rapper who believes in using hip-hop for social change, also attended the workshop and free-styled some rhymes with the girls who were thrilled with the on-the-spot poetry.

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The hip-hop community seemed to have as much fun as our girls did! We look forward to them visiting again. Some of our girls are even interested in joining their regular classes in Dharavi!


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