Thursday, 17 January 2013

New Indian Political tones of Hip Hop

Almost a decade ago in 2004, the National Hip-Hop Political Convention attracted numerous youngsters in the process of politicizing hip-hop. Russel Simmons’s Hip Hop Summit Action Network made its waves marking the days of real political reckoning and making formal political agenda. Two years later, Nas’s album Hip Hop is Dead generated much furor, especially from the South which was articulated through T-shirts claiming ‘Hip Hop Ain’t Dead. It Lives in the South.’Subsequently, Mickey Hess authored a book asking Is Hip Hop Dead? (Praeger, Westport, 2007). Moving from these all scenarios from its heartland in America, hip-hop has generated much vibrancies in South Asian context. Various albums in Hindi, Tamil, and other languages attracted wider audiences. Remarkably, those all were away from muchpolitical articulations.
Nevertheless, a new band called Mappila Lahala has come up with its first hip-hop single Native Bappa (written and directed by Muhsin Parari) on December 31, 2012. In only two days of its release via YouTube, it got more than one-lakh hits (which will be much more through its sharing via social networking sites). Apart from the enthusiastic responses in social networking media, regional television channels and print media alike provided an exciting coverage. This recent knockout of a hip-hop song in South India has to be read with its underpinned political content. Native Bappa is a sorrowful monologue of a father whose son has been labeled and arrested as a traitor and terrorist and now has been killed. He expounds the police arrested his son charging they found bombs with his son. He says that his son is scared of even the crackers, forget the explosives. However he also says that now his wife is telling that if their son is a traitor, she doesn’t want to see his dead-body as he deceived the nation. The father, whom the son introduces as a reluctant secularist, at first defends his son disregarding all allegations but due to the frequent terrific experiences of police-interrogation and due to the deep sadness of realizing he has lost his son, at the end of the song, he says he also doesn’t want to see son’s body.
This single hip-hop speaks loudly to the wider political contemplationsall over the world in which the stereotypes about Muslims constantly avow them as extremists and terrorists. With these stereotyping, Islam and its followers fall into a stigma in which they cannot express their innocence. Once you are labeled as a terrorist, no one can rescue you even if you negate it
thousand times – horribly similar to that of a thief.The song protests against that: ‘No skepticism in my lyricism/ I raise an iron rode against terrorism/Islam is peace in the definition/ people are brainwashed by the television’. It furthers its standpoint by saying: ‘Open your eyes, take away the prejudice/ Bombing the innocents, I’ll call you a terrorist/ I don’t care if you are an Al Qaeda militant/ or if the world calls you the U.S. President.’
In South Asian contexts – in which armed struggles are widespread, especially in conflict areas of Kashmir, North-Eastern India – the religious minorities are always been arrested and killed everyday.As the larger minority in India, the Muslims have to struggle to explicate their innocence though no one listens to them despite some activists. Leaving aside these conflict zones, the condition of Muslims is not different in other parts of India which known as peace-zones. Even in Kerala (where this album has been produced), which is widely identified as the most peaceful state, such arrests and labeling happen quite frequently. A stronger form of Islamophobia dominates the Kerala public sphere through the wide-accusations against Muslims like Love Jihad Movement. Consequently, many students and youngsters publicly admitted that their parents warned them not to be friends with Muslim-boys as it will affect their social life and career.
In such an outset, personal sorrows a Muslim suffers are inexpressible in their public spaces. As this song entitles, a father whose son has been accused as a traitor cannot describe what exactly he feels. He loves his son who was a helping-hand and very affectionate to the family. The old father, mother, and the sister and her children were dependent on his incomes. Once he has been arrested and killed, the society perceives them as relatives of a traitor.The police interrogations are nightmares to them, moreover they don’t have any sources for livelihood. Due to these all reasons, the loving father also starts to condemn and hates his son at the end. The personal sorrows and social pressures of an innocent Muslimare thus entangled with multifaceted nightmares and unspeakable states of existence.
While putting ahead a new research agenda for ‘transglobal hip hop umma’ in the context of ‘American umma’, H. Sami Alim (in Miriam Cooke and Bruce B. Lawrence edited Muslim Networks: from Hajj to Hip Hop, The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 2005) asks a conclusive question: ‘Will the transformative, resistive power of hip hop culture be undercut by its widely gained acceptance and co-optation by some of the very institutions it was created to resist?’ The recent album Native Bapa from Southern India adds to such wider queries, along with all other discourses about encountering stereotypes.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...