Ahmad Najeeb meets a Sopore boy who raps for the social cause and has vowed not to make money from his art. He is currently preparing for IAS
Padho Beta Likho Beta
Doctor Beta, Engineer Beta,
Kabhi Yeh Toh Bolo
These opening lines of the song sung by Rapper Ashu is a slap on the parental trend forcing unwanted career choices on students, which sometimes, push them towards depression.
Ashu is a local self-taught rap singer from Sopore. Basically Wani Armaan, 24, he goes by stage name Rapper Ashu and is an IAS aspirant. Currently a student of Political Science at the University of Kashmir, he has taken to rapping for his social activism. His lyrics are satirical and a blend of English, Urdu and Kashmiri.
Listening to his song Public grievances and rap music is a treat as it explains how two apparently strange and unsound things sound so soothing in the song.
Ashu started rap-singing in ninth standard. “I released my first song in 2009, when I set up a short-lived band (2009-2011), the Soprian Thugs. As my other band members quit, I kept on singing solos,” Ashu said. “There is a dearth of voice that can take a stand on social issues and can have a commitment as well.”
Son of a Fire and Emergency Services employee, Ashu says he is unwilling to sell his art. “Social issues are my passion and social media is my platform,” Ashu said. “I have my YouTube channel and Facebook page but I have not linked either o the two with the payment service because I do not want it.” However, performing in events is enough for my pocket, he insists.
Off late, rap culture is getting popular in Kashmir’s new generation “Initially, my parents were reluctant fearing my passion may come in between me and my goal (IAS) but after they heard my first track, they supported me,” Ashu said.
For rappers, Kashmir has a limited opportunity. But still, Ashu got a few chances. Sopore’s SRN Welkin School organised an event and invited their former student to perform. Since then, he has performed at several institutes including the University, various hotels, restaurants a for a few production houses as well. “I have judged a talents hunt show in my High School,” he said.
Ashu came into the limelight when he released Kashmir Ki Shadi which has crossed one million views on YouTube, so far. The song is a satire strongly arguing against fat and expensive weddings.
The song opens up with
Kashmir Ki Shadi Hui Barbaadi,
Biddaton Sey Gir Gaye Meri Waadi
and then it pans out to the details of the new customs and their long and short-term consequences.
“The inspiration for Kashmir Ki Shadi was my elder sister’s marriage,” Ashu said. “The preparation started two months ahead of the wedding and my family members used to sit on every evening to discuss the budget, shopping list, invitations and many useless expenditures.”
The song talks about the excessive Wazwaan, un-Islamic custom’s and peoples’ obesity. It is a sacred social institution but Kashmir has reduced it to a collective evil by performing dizzy rituals,” Ashu added.
His recent is a song on power crises in Kashmir. It begins with two children saying: Aav, Gov, Aav, Gov (Resumed, Disrupted, Resumed, Resumed). Titled as Batti Gull, the song with satirical lyrics narrates PDD’s failure and sufferings of people faced due to unscheduled power cuts. Ashu said he received a lot of facebook messages from unknown friends which inspired him in making Batti Gul.’
Kashmir Mai Ho Gayi Batti Gul,
Kuch Logu Ki Jeybu Ki Tanky Full
Admiring American rapper, Eminem and his local counterpart, Essxaar, Ashu seemingly is getting fully involved in his passion. Even his wardrobe collection shows this. His t-shirts, sweaters, blazers, caps and even bags carry his signature; Rapper Ashu, his assumed identity.
“A fortnight after the Kashmir Ki Shadi, I was stopped by a lady near Kashmir University,” Ashu said. “She thanked me for the song saying she and her husband changed their mind and opted for a simple marriage.” He has recorded 19 songs so far.
“As long you have talent and your content makes sense to people, no one can stop you from getting noticed,” Ashu believes