When you think of Indian rap, it’s hard not to imagine young blokes wearing funky clothes and doling out fast-paced lyrics a la Gully Boy. But it’s not just the men who are ruling the desi rap scene. The ladies too are making a name in the world of rap and Bengaluru-based rapper Siri Narayan is one of them. One look at her videos on YouTube and she’ll leave you in awe of her spunk, singing and sass. Predominantly an English and Kannada rapper, Siri went national with TVF’s Girlyapa’s Power Anthem Tu Bas Naach and was even seen rapping in Telugu for the song Shuffle with actor Varun Dhawan for an ad. This song earned half a million views on Youtube.
Talking about how the Girlyapa power anthem happened, Siri reveals, “Vaibhav from TVF, who’s the music composer and producer for the track, hit me up and we decided to work on it. That was the first time Kannada rap was used in an all-India YouTube channel that’s known to be mostly a Hindi one. The video is all about being yourself without inhibitions.” Siri believes in fearlessly following her dreams. So it’s no surprise that she could relate to the song deeply. “I believe that we should be able to do what our heart desires and not what society expects us to. — I moved out of home at 18 and have always been independent. The things I’ve done have given me the courage to assert my identity, so I channelise the same spirit into my writing,” says the crooner, whose lyrics and punchlines received a phenomenal response.
As someone who started off with English rap, Siri then moved to crooning in her mother tongue Kannada, post which she’s even done a Telugu and Hindi rap. “I’ve lived in Hyderabad for five years, so I understand Telugu. I wrote the lyrics in English and asked my Telugu-speaking friend to translate it,” smiles Siri.
Like most Indian households, she too faced skepticism at home when she decided to pursue rapping full-time. “My mom doesn’t understand the profession — at home, they only understand engineering or being a doctor. They don’t see music as a viable profession. My mom doesn’t say anything now, but once in a while she shares her views about my profession. There’s always that emotional factor which makes them say — ‘oh, look other kids are doing this and that.’ My Dad’s always been more open to it, but my parents have never said a ‘no’ to my choice. I’ve always been the kind to do what’s good for me. Even if parents lash out initially, they will eventually come around,” she says.
Till recently, Siri too was skeptical about taking up music as a career. However, once she was signed by Azaadi records, she saw a glimmer of hope and felt that she could make a comfortable living as a musician. While rapping was always a passion for the Kannada lass, she admits that she was never into hip-hop. “But when I got into it, it was very electrifying, and I felt the impact I had on the crowd and people who’d heard me. I decided to do something about it although I’d to consider a lot of things as I’d chosen an offbeat profession,” she reveals.
Siri credits her artistic streak and its development to the Carnatic music and Veena she learnt in school and the Kathak classes she atttended. In the future, this spirited girl wants to make music that inspires people and creates a spark in them. “The Budweiser campaign was one-of-a-kind as they had no translation for my Kannada rap. They put me in the lead as part of a campaign representing more women and talent. As for taking local rap to bigger places, there’s no end to anything— once you reach one destination, you can go to another one,” say the songstress.
Siri recently who performed at the GQ Style and Culture Awards 2019, where actors like Anushka Sharma, Radhika Apte, Ranveer Sing etc got a glimpse of her phenomenal English-Kannada rapping skills is now gearing up for her next song Beda Beda, which will be out in two months. “It’s a very light, chill track. I also have a song in the Kannada film Yana,” she signs off....