The Tamil language has turned ‘kewl’, and it has all happened over a period of time with the help of social media and a natural stirring in song writers to express themselves in their own mother tongue through music and song. Today we have Tamil hip hop bands, rappers and pop bands with a notable fan following.
The well-known single, Club le Mabbu le, by the band Hip Hop Tamizha, saw an epic number of hits and made the band visible. The response they received pushed them to release an album and got them composing for films too.
Chennai-based Tupakey is a rap band that has recently released a single SWAG Thamizhachi, featuring rapper Aaryan Dinesh K, of Magudi from Kadal fame. Meanwhile, the new kids on the block is Namma Ooru Boy Band (NOBB) who will release their first single soon. The trend clearly seems to be that with the release of independent Tamil singles, the language itself has evolved as a mode of self-expression.
Tupakey was started by four people, who were inspired by international rapper Yogi B. Tupakey’s Mc AK, said that they started to rap in Tamil mainly because they were not good in English. “The basic rule of rapping is that the rapper writes the lyrics. So, we write our own lyrics,” he said. “Tamil is one of the languages that can take in anything new and make it its own,” according to Mc AK who foresees the trend taking the Tamil language and culture to an international level. “We wear their clothes, but we respect our culture. The concept of rapping is Western but what we do is Indian. This is collaboration,” he points out.
Talking about their unique song title SWAG Tamizhachi, Mc AK recalls, “Aaryan Dinesh K was in town to sing the Magudi when we got together and decided to do SWAG?Tamizhachi. We noticed that the recent trend of songs was based on girls and their characters, so we wanted to do something about our Thamizhachis, to sing about their swag. We respect girls here and we thought we should rap about their beauty.” The band in fact, has dedicated their first album, which will release next month, to the qualities that makes girls special. It’s called Pengalin Sirappu.
So, would this trend affect the audience’s response to folk song? Mc AK disagrees. “There will never come a time when folk music loses its audience or the public stops loving folk,” he said, pointing out that they have also collaborated with folk bands for their upcoming movie.
Meanwhile, Josh Vivian and Varun Parandhaman of NOBB say, “Every phase of our life can be associated to one particular genre. Folk is the genre that every college student will associate with. The interest in singles, hip hop and rap will never diminish the reach that folk has.” Josh and Varun got together at vocal training classes. They started the band to bridge the gap between what Josh said was “his passion for Western pop and his interest in Tamil songs”. The growing interest in Tamil as a medium for song was not what urged them to start the band. They wanted the youth in Chennai to enjoy pop as much as they did. Their first song describes the common scenario of boys dreaming about girls who they believe are not in their league. “Creating independent music in Chennai was important for singers who also perform,” Josh observes.
The concept of Hip Hop Tamizha’s first album was on the importance of Tamil and started a brand called Tamizhan Da. “Youngsters used to have a misconception that conversing in Tamil was not cool. They all assumed that they were superior because they chose a foreign language as elective. We wanted to prove them wrong,” said Adi of Hip Hop Tamizha. “We started the band to enable youngsters today to relate to the concept of being a proud Tamizhan, to give them an identity. We are coming up with the concept of a ‘Tamizhan Da Movement’ where we will be providing courses on Tamil online,” he added.
The Tamil language acquiring this cool quotient has made it possible for youngsters today to be at ease with speaking it, with appreciating it. It’s not Chennaiites alone who slip into local Tamil slang and listen to Tamil songs, but also those from outside the city, giving the language a strong identity all its own. It bodes well for a cultural regeneration of sorts, with folk’s popularity providing its own enrichment....