Bespectacled rapper Emiway Bantai, whose original name is Bilal Shaikh (born 13 November 1995), is one of the very few music artists in India to have catapulted into superstardom solely with the use of social media. His stage name is a combination of the names of rappers Eminem and Lil Wayne, i.e., Emi + Way.
The story goes that one day when Emiway was in class 10, he heard a classmate singing Eminem’s 2010 track Not Afraid. Emiway liked the song, but didn’t know anything about the artist and the music. Back home, he looked up the song and within a matter of days got to know more about rap music and about Eminem. Ever since then Emiway has considered Eminem as his idol and started singing the songs of the American rapper. His friends liked what he was doing and were surprised that he had mastered Not Afraid verbatim. From school to college, his singing was appreciated by his friends who encouraged him to write his own songs. He released his first English song Glint Lock (2013) that has licks of Eminem in it which was well received. With time he was advised to rap in Hindi and from then on it’s been his success story.
Bantai rose to fame with his first hit single Aur Bantai in 2014. Bantai’s singles have crossed millions of views on YouTube garnering fans from all across the country. His packed gigs continue to generate hysteria among attendees every single time. His streaming numbers are shooting through the roof and he is the only artist to have won the Best Hip-Hop Artist (People’s Choice) Award at Radio City Freedom Awards three years in a row (2017-2019), this year winning for Jump Kar. He also has a fab music video shot in the beautiful countryside of the North East titled Dhyan De (where he fits in as many words as he could) and Skrrt Karenge, where the rapper showcases his versatility as an artist.
The 24-year-old hip-hop YouTube sensation and independent rap artist is also seen alongside Ranveer Singh in the movie Gully Boy celebrating the real rappers of our country.
Rising starlet Celina Sharma teamed up with Bantai for her debut single Lean On, a track that weaves Celina’s taste for house-influenced pop with Emiway’s unique lyrical stylings to create a song that mixes influences from both Western music and Celina’s Indian heritage.
Emiway’s latest single Machayenge is an anthem for those who want to have the time of their lives. Equipped with his signature wit and quirkiness, Machayenge is a fun song with a pleasant, beachy vibe. Enjoying more than 2 million followers across social media platforms, its quirky beat carries the local flavours of the Indian rap community.
When rap superstar Wiz Khalifa brought his thunderous two-city Sunburn Arena showcase to India in September 2019, Emiway had the audience in Mumbai on its feet before Khalifa took to the stage.
With his lyrical dominance, dynamic flow and organic reach, the Bengaluru-born native, now based in Mumbai, is ready to make a global impact.
VERUS FERREIRA spoke with Emiway about his zooming career graph, his music and his recent win at the MTV Europe Music Awards.
How did you get into music?
I first heard Eminem’s track Not Afraid when I was in 10th grade and was immediately hooked. Music is my fuel.
What have you done academically?
I have studied till 12th standard. Flunked it. I was always a backbencher and an introvert. My initial plan was to become a doctor, but today I’m glad that it didn’t work out.
Is anyone in your family into music?
No. But they appreciate good music; have listened to a lot of Hindi music. They now follow hip-hop too.
One rapper you would like to collaborate with.
There are many. But collaboration with Eminem would go to insane levels.
Would you agree that Eminem is the rap god across the world?
Without a doubt.
What’s the inspiration behind Machayenge?
My songs are inspired from real life, real words, feelings and quirks. Machayenge came about as a fun track. It calls out to all the listeners who want to have a blast of a time. It is Bantai’s way of partying and having a gala time.