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Beats of Aazadi

Though popular since the 1970s, hip-hop is the hottest rising music genre in the country – attacking various stereotypes and existing social vices, its rage is only expected to get bigger and louder with time

"Jee raha hai andhere mein tu andhviswaas ke saath. Roshini dhundte hue tere yahaan ho jaayengi maut

Dharam dharam karke hum yahhan ek dusre pe chadh gaye. Insaniyat kya hai hum yeh bhool Gaye. Daultat ke nashe mein hum kho gaye

Hichkichahak, jaan ki keemat ho gayi hai sasti.Daulat ki yeh dawaai, aspataal ki yeh rajneeti

Samasya dekh ke bhi tu andha ban ke kyun khada hai.Gunge insaano mein tu shabdh kyun bech raha hai."

(In the garb of your false beliefs, you are living in the realm of darkness. You will die before you get enlightened.

In the name of religion, we have begun to harm and kill each other. We have forgotten the essence of humanity and have got intoxicated in the power of money

Sigh, human life today is cheap. Medicines have become a source of big profits and hospitals a medium of playing politics.

You are aware of the problems but you are turning a blind eye to it. You are selling words to those people who cannot speak.)

Released in 2018, Pa Ranjith's Kaala could have turned out to be another film where the main protagonist and superstar Rajinikanth would have single-handedly carried the film.What made the headlines however was the music of the film and the new genre of hip-hop coupled with powerful lyrics.

The lyrics were originally written in Tamil were dubbed subsequently in Hindi and other languages. The songs promoted a greater meaning than just singing praises for the hero of the film. The songs of the film were released just a few weeks after Rajinikanth officially announced his joining politics. There were certain critics who complained that using a commercial medium the superstar was instead promoting his political ideology. The gossip revolving the film subsequently subsided with the release of the film and it doing well at the box office.

Brief controversies surrounding the film may have ended but the issues and the anger highlighted in the film and its songs remained before and after the film.

The noteworthy aspect was however that how the Indian cinema was once again able to observe and tap in the new form of expression to the simmering anger of millennials against the systems of the country.

The story, as well as the music of the film Gully Boy, has found resonance among the audience of this new and undiscovered art form of hip hop with a tone of dissent.

Powerful lyrics, dialogues, poetry and music for long have been used as an effective tool to stand up against the mighty and call out of what is wrong.

Despite the presence of these art forms what has been fascinating is how quickly the culture of hip-hop which made its entry from clubs, movies to the streets of every part of the country. What has been equally interesting is the lives of these people who have begun to exhibit their creativity at a very young age. With freedom of speech, most of these young rappers have no qualms of discussing sex, materialism, violence in their songs.

Devoid of opportunities Naved had a burning desire in him for the city of Mumbai to accept him and give him that self-respect he deserved. His means of achieving this was, however, were against the law.

The teenager and his friends indulged in small time robberies so that they can make a quick buck and thereby enjoy their time. It was during one of these robberies that he was arrested and jailed. In times of loneliness and humiliation, he began penning his thoughts and upon his release started expressing himself through the Internet with no censor.

His audacity to cry out the growing inequality between the have's and the have not's, hypocrisy of the urban elite and corruption being percolated from top to bottom can best be described in his song Aafat (trouble).

Naved today is known as Naezy and is one of the inspirations for the film Gully Boy. The concept of street hip-hop that began in the year 2006 in Dharavi (Mumbai) gained traction among the young and restless in the area.

Dharavi may have earned the dubious tag of being one of the largest slums in Asia. Yet, the resourcefulness of its society can be gauged from the fact that it has a flourishing business in terms of leather and waste recycling units and now street hip-hop which is being pioneered by the next generation.

Street rap has also made its inroads in the land of Rabindra Sangeet. Kidderpore in Kolkata is an area filled with migrants and is the City of Joy's answer to freedom of expression through words.

Minaj Khan and Mohammad Huzaifa Raza aka Awessum Frankie has gained popularity by expressing their pride in being a part of Kidderpore and not being apologetic about it. Instead, they have urged the people to give respect to people of Kidderpore on their merit and not from their place of origin.

Making an effort to change the archaic beliefs of society Ginni Mahi from Punjab went ahead and wrote Dangerous Chamaar. For a state that has one of the highest populations of dalits the song makes these subjugated people proud of their identity. The success of hip hop highlights that creativity holds a deeper meaning than just commerce.

For a state that has not been able to make much of impact in the creative business, Haryana too used the themes of misogyny, gun culture, alcohol and masculinity in its lyrics. Off-late there have been some of the songs where issues of improving state education, respect for women and balanced social development have been raised. In other states, Sumeet Samos (Odisha), Street academics (Kerala), Khasi bloodz (Meghalaya) and Chandan Rai Yadav (Bihar) are some of the known rap artists whose popularity continues to grow.

Popular artist Raftaar too in Manto expressed, "sex nishedh hai to itni kyon aabadi hai" (if the word sex is used in a restricted manner then why is there so much of population).

With freedom comes great responsibility. Heightened aspirations and the angst of the millennials have been picked up by the creative form of street and swadeshi hip-hop. A major responsibility lies in the shoulders of present artists to carry forward the legacy of this creative form. It should lead them to inspire the new generation to learn and pick up this art form which can be used in a positive way to create a dent in the system.

Piyush Ohrie

Piyush Ohrie

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