Rap History in Azerbaijan
The history of Azerbaijani rap music (commonly referred to as Azrap) dates back to the 20th century, to 1983, when Chingiz Mustafayev performed a song in the rap genre "Dunenki kechdi” in the Azerbaijani language for the first time. This song went down in history as the first rap song in Azerbaijan. In the 1990s, the rap genre started to become more popular among the Azerbaijani population. As a result of it, in 1993, Anar Nagilbaz, who is considered one of the founders of Azrap, presented his "Poor's Song" song and his album to the public, which increased the interest of people in hip-hop in Azerbaijan. To the list of classical members of Azrap, we may add the names of Uran, Elshad Xose, and Huseyn Derya, who were able to make people in our country love the rap genre of music, which was not very popular in Azerbaijan at that time.
However, the "H.O.S.T. Alliance" music group that had formed in 2007 played a significant role in making rap popular among the youth. The idea of creating this group belongs to Qaraqan and Jamal Ali; other members were their friends Felon De Jure, Feck, ErranT, PRoMete, AID, and Darvish. H.O.S.T. continued its activities for 5 years, and during these years, this group presented 8 albums to the listeners, more than 10 clips were filmed, 50 concerts took place, and more than 200 tracks were composed. This group ceased to exist in 2012, and some of its members have started their solo rap careers.
Today, rap music continues to be a popular genre in Azerbaijan, with many young artists experimenting with different styles and sounds. The growth of social media and online streaming platforms (Spotify, iTunes, Deezer, etc.) has also allowed these artists to reach a wider audience and gain international recognition. Although rap battles are not a traditional part of Azerbaijani culture, the popularity of them has been growing in the country in recent years. As a result, there are a lot of rap battles that take place in Azerbaijan. "Eon Liga" is one good example of it that was organized 6-7 years ago. People still remember the confrontation between Omen and Dakodje, which was the most interesting battle of Eon Liga. There was also a "Grime Clash" in Azerbaijan at the time, which drew rap fans’ attention. The most memorable battle on this project was between Noton and Neocortex. But the most successful project in this area in Azerbaijan has been "Kelle-Kelleye". The main person behind this project is Abdul Muzzi, who was a producer for the H.O.S.T. group. Once during one of his interviews, he said that he was a guy with a black hood in a clip of H.O.S.T. Alliance's "Beshikden Mezara," which shows that he was a major figure in the promotion of that music group as well. In 2019, Abdul Muzzi and his partners organized their first rap battle between two MCs, Tibu and Ziq-Zaq. Their first project was so successful that they decided to continue it, and during the next two years, they organized several rap battles between well-known Azrap artists, and each of them attracted a lot of attention from rap listeners in Azerbaijan. Hundreds of people visited the halls where those battles were hosted, and videos of "Kelle-Kelleye" collected millions of views on their official Youtube channel.
Today, rap studios offer not only audio recording but also other services such as beat-making, songwriting assistance, Mixing & Mastering, and music production. These services are designed to help artists create high-quality recordings that can be shared with audiences around the world. Studios such as "X.R.B. Records", "Synaps Records", "Holy Ones Production", "Bizim Studio" usually have special offers for rap artists that help talented rappers advance and make world-class music at affordable prices.
"People do not go to concerts anymore", "Nobody wants to stand for hours in the concerts," etc. All these sayings about the Azerbaijani music audience were contradicted by Orkhan Zeynalli’s concerts on November 20 and 21, 2022. All tickets for the first day of a concert were sold within several hours. After that, he decided to plan another concert the next day. More than 6,000 people participated in the concert every two days, which once again shows the interest of Azerbaijani people in rap music and the obvious influence of the H.O.S.T. group on it.
It is evident that Azrap has had huge progress since the 20th century. Nowadays, the profit that rappers gain from their music increases people’s interest, especially in this genre. Azrap is now almost at the same level as Turkish and Russian rap, which can make Azerbaijani rap fans feel elated. Rap's audience is going to increase in the next few years, both in Azerbaijan and all over the world.