Rapping activism

Friday, 31 August 2012 - 9:23am IST Updated: Thursday, 30 August 2012 - 7:27pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Addressing social issues through their music, rappers take a stand

They’re young, intelligent and subversive. And they’re not afraid to tell it like it is.  Three young rappers, who believe in ‘music activism’, have been addressing environmental, social and gender issues through song.

Dombivali resident Viraj Manjrekar, popularly known as Roger, is a graphic designer who raps in English, Hindi and Marathi. Hailing from the controversial town of Jaitapur, his lyrics are full of state politics. “I started  as a non-activist rapper and then improvised to get into activism.” He protested against the environmental effects of a nuclear power station at Jaitapur and got arrested.

His track Kaisey Mai Sahu is a reaction to the  molestation incident at Guwahati and portrays the shame he felt after he saw the footage of the incident on TV. Currently, Roger is working on Big Bad Wolf, a song about children committing suicide.
Rapper Manmeet Kaur also conveys her angst about the Guwahati incident. “Rap is all about telling stories,” she says. Manmeet hails from Chandigarh and is a second-year student at National College in Bandra. Well aware of current affairs, her lyrics are about ‘female objectification and subjugation’ in Indian society. After an eve teasing incident, Manmeet was disgusted enough to give her angst the shape of a rap song. She admits she’s still learning and refuses to go commercial. “Bollywood lies to us all the time. Fame is not what I want,” she says.

Ashwini Mishra, who works in corporate communications and is also known as A List, says he wants to “educate yuppies through music. I don’t want to sign up with labels. I’ve been selling my CDs at select locations. I don’t need a record label and I refuse to compromise on my lyrics.” Currently, Mishra is working on a song dedicated to Manipur’s Irom Sharmila, who has been on a fast for over a decade in Imphal against the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act. The lyrics of another song, Uranium Blues, reflect upon the effects of radiation around the Koodankulam nuclear power plant. “Scientifically and ecologically, this project could cripple India,” he says.


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