When Rap Came to Bollywood

From “Chacha Snoop” in a turban to Akon singing for Shah Rukh Khan: American rappers don’t end up in India often, but when they do, things get strange.

Michaela Stone Cross

November 4, 2019

When Rap Came to Bollywood
Snoop Dogg with Indian rapper Dr. Zeus. (Snoop Dogg)

The 2008 movie Singh is Kinng — spelled with an extra “n” due to the advice of a numerologist — is your typical masala flick, with exotic locations, singing in fields of flowers, and Akshay Kumar. But one thing sticks out about this otherwise ordinary movie: its promotional video features Snoop Dogg, dressed in traditional Sikh attire. Turban, sherwani, the whole shebang. 

“Akshay and Snoop D-O-double G,” raps “the Doggfather,” in front of a green screen image of the Taj Mahal (he’s actually in Chicago). “Singh is king. This is the thing. You know what I mean? Follow me, listen to me for a second. Singh is the king. Check the record.” 

Chacha Snoop, as he’s called by some desi artists, is not the only American rapper to have ended up in Bollywood: Drake, Nas, Ludacris, Akon, Pitbull, Will Smith, and will.i.am have all brushed shoulders with the industry. And because it happens so rarely, it just makes the times it has that much more miraculous and that much more bizarre