Who said you can’t start a revolution with a rap song? With Chennai-based rapper, Sofia Ashraf releasing Kodaikanal Won’t and breaking it on the Internet, we take a look at rappers in namma Bengaluru who have used their music to create a movement or send out a message loud and clear.
All that pop star Nicki Minaj could say to the diminutive 28-year-old trying to bring a corporate giant to its knees to the tune of her Anaconda was ‘Wow.’ And that’s what her fellow rappers have got to say too. “One word, respect,” says Karthik Gubbi, a rap artist who tastefully blends literature and real life in Kannada.
“It’s not easy to be making a song against a big organisation which thinks it can do what it wants. Using the cover of a popular track to reach more people, she’s not only stood up for what she believes in as an artiste, but has helped the people of Kodaikanal stand up for themselves too,” he says. “The song puts out a powerful message in many ways and it shows that people are finally ready to voice their opinion,” chips in Xstacy Sash aka Shashank, another city based rapper.
Known to bring social issues into their lyrics, these rap artistes are right on song too. For instance, Karthik’s Broken Wings – a song on women’s rights and Moneygaagi, a tune on corruption and how politicians ‘buy’ everything, how education has become a business and how artists and musicians are treated, saw a cult following with hundreds of views. “Some of them advised me against performing the song as they said it could offend some and get me in trouble too. The ideology is simple. If one person stands against anything, they could be easily silenced, but if it is a movement, how many of them can be silenced? Anna Hazare inspired me to write Moneygaagi,” says the 26-year-old, who believes that as artistes, they owe a certain responsibility to society. “Putting across a strong social message is one of them,” he says.
Xctacy Sash is another rap artiste who always looks to educate the masses while entertaining them with his socially aware and stirring music. With over 4,000 hits on YouTube, his song Overcome urged people to unite against corruption and he thinks rap is a good medium to drive home a point. “Rapping is similar to informal speech and a layperson can understand it,” he says. Conscious hip-hop has always been one of the best mediums to put across a strong social message. “And as an artiste, I believe if I’m able to inspire or motivate even one person out of 100 to stand against what is not being rightly done, I have achieved what I wanted to through my song,” says Karthik Gubbi about what he calls ‘straight talk.’
Contrary to popular belief, not all of rap consists of extensive profanity and videos objectifying women. Rapping about social issues in particular is tougher than it seems. “That’s because it’s not just mindless rhyming,” says hip hop artiste and rapper, Samir Rishu Mohanty aka Big Deal. “When you rap about a certain topic, you need to do your homework. When you are writing about social issues, a small glitch in your research may prove fatal and people will target you for that one mistake while happily ignoring the rest of the song,” says the artiste who recently released Heroine, an anthem for women empowerment that has over 60,000 hits on YouTube. However, no matter how hard the challenge, it’s all about touching sentiments and reaching out to make a difference for these artistes – no matter how small.