Hip hop is a very misunderstood concept among Indians. Indian Tamizh Hiphop is seen as music being imitated from the west. Hiphop in the west is a culture that includes DJing, Graffiti, Rapping and Break dancing, all these various art forms brought to forefront as various mediums by an oppressed section of society to voice out their plights, demanding social change for their upliftment. In short, it was a social revolution.
Tamil Nadu is rich with culture and traditions and for the practice of various art forms in the field of music, dance and drama .For instance, a dance form called Thappaattam, is followed by Dalits in Tamil Nadu, through ages, to express the issues they face and for their social upliftment. Similarly a lot of dance forms like Karagattam, Puliattam, Silambattam and more have been prevalent especially in rural Tamil Nadu.
Theru koothu also known as street play which involves a play combined with music and dance, and a story is narrated. Villupattu is a musical performance where a group of singers use distinct instruments and sing songs and narrate stories. A lot of these reflected social consciousness and issues, but mainly they were seen from an aesthetic point of view and entertainment.
They were just various art forms depicting the lives the people in Tamil Nadu; they had a very good socially conscious content in them. There was not a massive revolution using these various elements in Tamil Nadu.
These various art forms in Tamil Nadu are equivalent to the art forms present in Hiphop in the West. And Indian Tamizh Hip hop is merely incorporating both the types of art forms into a single space and projecting it to the people.
The vintage Hiphop elements have been used to project Tamizh culture and bring it to the forefront, now as a social and music revolution in India. Indian Tamizh Hiphop also strives to revive these ancient rural art forms of Tamil Nadu, by trying to intersperse them with vintage Hiphop.
Such an endeavor is the need of an hour, as these various art forms are diminishing in importance. And also Hiphop culture has been found to be a very effective medium as a musically inclined social revolution for change.
One such a movement is already in place in Tamil Nadu called Hiphop Tamizha, the founder being MC Adhi, a pioneer of Indian Tamizh Hiphop, who is keen on rapping, with a debate element attached, about a lot of socially conscious issues. On questioned by a few about why his songs have controversial topics, he explains “Hiphop is all about reality! When there is a problem, a real emcee should rap about it! An emcee should inspire people and should work for the upliftment of the society! You should remember the history of Hiphop, how and why it all started! We are not singers, we are rappers! FEEL PROUD TO BE AN EMCEE!”
According to him, Hiphop culture was a revolution that was born because the blacks were oppressed. Here in the Tamil Hiphop scene we are not gangsters. We have other issues which we see around us, that need to be brought to the forefront. And so we work our ways on it. We try to revive our Tamizh culture and traditions by using Hiphop culture’s elements as a medium.
A few members of this organization rap in Tamizh, beat boxers try to bring in musical instruments like Mirudangam, Urumi etc, when they perform. Also a few bboys try to mix dance forms like Thappaatam with Break dancing. A few graffiti artists are using the Tamizh language for their markings
One more instance to be quoted is , the work of Bigg Nikk , who is the pioneer of introducing the Madras Tamizh dialect in his raps. He states “Tamil is something I learnt on the streets of Chennai, Tamil is of different types and even though I am a Tamil , it is hard for a local guy to understand pure Tamil. Since I have grown up on the streets, and I make music for the audience , it is my duty to connect with the people. Madras Tamil was my answer”.
The above are very valuable instances to depict Indian Tamizh Hiphop. I also look forward to unravel similar efforts by individual artists and organizations alike in Tamil Nadu. I may write about them, as I discover more.