Watch: Sufi and Rap Come Together on “Like A Sufi”
Kashmiri rapper MC Kash and Pune-based sufi rock band Alif collaborate on a track that highlights Kashmir’s beauty and resilience
Following the successful run of Hip Hop Homeland, a project that chronicled the rise of desi hip-hop through documentaries and culminated with a gig in Mumbai in April, pop culture portal 101India has now shifted focus to sufi music. Their new initiative 101 Sufi’s first offering is a sufi-rap song, titled “Like A Sufi”, featuring Kashmir-based rapper Roushan Illahi aka MC Kash and Pune’s sufi-rock band Alif.
Since Illahi and Alif frontman Mohammad Muneed Nazir are both from Kashmir, they decided to write the song in the Kashmiri [or Koshur, a dying language spoken primarily in the valley of Kashmir and Chenab] with parts in English. “You have to write in the language that you think in,” says Nazir, adding “It’s about communicating the goodness, the kindness, and it automatically reaches people.” The video and the song steer clear of referencing the political unrest in Kashmir in a conscious bid to look beyond it. While the video features breathtaking footage of Kashmir’s natural beauty, the lyrics urge the listener to take cue from the lives of the revered sufis and embrace spirituality. Both Illahi and Nazir thought the marriage between sufi, a genre that employs metaphorical lyricism, and rap — with its roots in blunt, irreverent hip-hop — was a great idea. They finished composing and writing the song in all of one day!
The duo have walked the same fence with the second song of the series, “Jhelumus,” which is about the resilience of Kashmiri women. “I thought it was a responsibility for me as a Kashmiri to do it [share stories] with my non-Kashmiri friends,” says Nazir.
The folks behind 101 Sufi say that such collaborations are only reflective of India’s multiculturalism. Says Cyrus Oshidar, MD and COO, 101India, “It makes it more relevant to younger audiences. It also celebrates the immense diversity of a country where so many different influences and cultures live together.”
Earlier this year, Mumbai-based Kashmiri singer Vibha Saraf’s paid tribute to her homeland with an acoustic-leaning version of the regional bhajan “Harmok Bartal”, with an aim to focus on Kashmir’s folk culture rather than its conflict.
Says Nazir, “I think more and more musicians should go back to their roots… So that someone listening to the music can understand [the artist] a little more.”
Watch the video for “Like A Sufi” by MC Kash and Alif below: