Her claim to fame is being India’s first female rap artiste, and now Hard Kaur has pushed the boundaries again, with a new single under her own label, Future Records India. The track is fittingly called Sherni or Lioness, a pure hip-hop number, unlike her earlier party anthems. The song speaks of women empowerment and is a reflection of how the rapper looks at her own life, as well as the message she claims she wants to spread to all women.
“You face gender disparities everywhere,” explains Kaur, whose real name is Taran Kaur Dhillon. “Whether that is as a female rapper in a largely male dominated field or any other profession. Women are harassed for no reason everywhere.” The artiste recalls how, at the age of fourteen, her mother made her watch The Bandit Queen, a biopic on Phoolan Devi, who faced discrimination and abuse as a Dalit woman. The idea was to show Kaur the reality of the world she’d step into as an adult.
“My mother always told me, roti pakana baad mein seekhegi, pehle paise kamaana seekh (learn to cook later, first learn to support yourself),” reminisces the singer, adding that as a woman who ran her own salon in Birmingham, UK, her mother showed her how an empowered woman should be like in both action and words. “My mother is the real Hard Kaur,” she laughs. “I’m just the franchise.”
When she moved to Birmingham in 1991, Kaur says that she learned how to speak English listening to hip-hop music. “I was about 13-years-old when I first heard Chief Rocker by Lords of the Underground. Then I heard Queen Latifa’s Unity a couple of years after that. That’s when I knew that this was what I wanted to do,” she says. She remembers how other kids used to tease her for her voice, saying that she sounded like a man. “But look where it got me!” she laughs.
Besides her own single, the rapper has a bunch of projects lined up as a music director. She stresses on wanting to promote young and up-coming artistes. “If a song I compose becomes a hit, then I have a hit in my hands and the singer’s career opens up in front of them.” She talks about a sufi singer named Satinder, who came into the spotlight on the music reality show Chote Ustad in 2010, and later vanished from the scene. Kaur said she had been hunting for Satinder for four years before she finally located him in Jammu, where he returned after a largely unsuccessful stint in the industry. “He’s so talented,” she says proudly. “I want to be able to promote him and I’m managing him now.”
Kaur laments the unsuccessful attempts to promote female rappers, both in India and the UK. “I’ve had girls come up to me after I’ve recorded them and say, ‘my boyfriend doesn’t want me to do it,’ or, ‘what’s the point, I’ll end up getting married anyway,” she groans. “This is exactly the thought process that needs to change. We have the latest phones and gadgets but not the latest mentality, and that’s the message of change I’m trying to convey through my song.”
Quiz her on the audience response she’s looking at and she believes her music has what it takes to be a hit. “I’m already getting Twitter trolls, so I guess that it’s caused a stir,” she laughs....