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5 New Politically Conscious Hip-Hop Songs Out This Election Season

Tune in to the latest from New Delhi rapper Raoul Kerr, Chennai’s Arivu, Rajkot’s Parshuraavan and more

Anurag Tagat Apr 24, 2019

Gujarati rapper Parshuraavan (left) and producer Debo Sanyal. Photo: Aditya Gopalkrishnan

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At nearly 10 million views, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s election campaign video “My First Vote” is still about as cringe as it gets. Many rightly point out how the right wing party’s supporters are often against the kind of youth culture it is coopting in the music video to get votes.

Thankfully, the country’s socially conscious rappers and beatsmiths are doing their part in providing a counter-narrative that asks people to question more and protest more, as well as exercise their democratic right to vote during the General Elections. Here are some of our recent favorites released this month:

“Antarmann” by Parshuraavan and Debo

A couple of months ago, Pune-based producer and singer Debo Sanyal (who also produces synthwave under the moniker Dreamhour) met Rajkot-bred, Mumbai-based rapper Parshuraavan at a gig and within two days, they had “Antarmann,” whose main hook twists Modi’s public address program Mann Ki Baat. Over a seismic beat from Debo, Parshuraavan raps in Gujarati about the state of the nation, paradoxes and all.

“Poorna Swaraj” by RollsRoy’s

Sporting a bag over his head, New Delhi-based rapper Sumit Roy aka RollsRoy’s teams with producer and studio engineer Abhishek Sekhri for a bilingual track called “Poorna Swaraj.” The steady piano lead swells into a chorus in which Roy asks, “Kya yehi hai acche din?” referring to the current government’s election slogan from 2014. In the song, released via comedian Kunal Kamra’s YouTube page, Roy questions his fear of freedom of expression.

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“Anti Indian” by Arivu x OfRo

After about a year of show-stealing performances in Tamil Nadu, Tamil rapper Arivarasu Kalainesan aka Arivu and producer Rohit Abraham aka OfRo have finally released one of their best known songs, “Anti-Indian.” The studio version comes together with a simple video of Arivu – who is also a member of political music group The Casteless Collective – throwing down about how people question others’ allegiance to the country, right next to a cut-out of American rapper Kendrick Lamar.

“The Nation Needs to Know” by Raoul Kerr

Continuing his socially conscious hard-hitting bars showcased on his 2018 album No Flag, New Delhi hip-hop artist Raoul Kerr trains his guns on politicians and media frenzies alike. In the video, a news channel’s anchor – modeled on news channel Republic’s Arnab Goswami – is shouting his way through until Kerr and his crew storm in to teach them a lesson, as the nation’s young bear witness.

“Capital Imprisonment” by Beat Hierarchy ft. J.A.B. and Lexy

Bengaluru-based producer Beat Hierarchy aka Lubomir Jabbanda calls on rappers Joseph Benjamin aka J.A.B. and singer Lekha Gopi aka Lexy for one of his first politically-leaning songs. Splicing together footage of different species of simians (possibly from viral videos, considering the comedy/cute value of some of them) with political leaders Rahul Gandhi and prime minister Narendra Modi, the song points the finger at corrupt politicians and pledges “power to the people.”

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