Journal Entry #5

I researched the sonic elements of Kottayam, Kerala (where my parents are from). Kerala is a tropical South Indian state where hip-hop is not a scene that is regarded or acknowledged much at all, but is evident when you walk through the streets.

Looking for a rap scene in Kerala, India (where my
parents are from) was already perplexing to me, knowing that the scene is
almost non-existent. There isn’t much support for it in India, and especially in
southern states like Kerala.

Febin Joseph, under the rap name Fejo, is considered a
trailblazer for the rap scene in Kerala. His video for the song “Vere Level”
(Another Level) gives the viewer a feel of what Kottayam looks like.

In an interview with Times of India, Fejo mentions:  “Like in other countries or even other parts of India, it’s near impossible to release a Malayalam album with rap songs and make it a success. That’s why it’s important to have rap in movie songs to popularize the genre among the youth. The confidence of the music directors to include a rap song is what encourages singers like [me]. The young music composers are now trying to experiment in a lot of ways.”

Recently I watched a Malayalam movie called “Varathan”
with my mom back in Vancouver, and it was the first time I heard a song that
sounded like it had influences from hip-hop or EDM. The movie itself tackled
social issues around violence against women, and featured streets that had a
taste of hip-hop aesthetics.

Being a backwaters state, the hip-hop aesthetic of
Kottayam is very natural yet grunge. Waone, a Keralite mural artist, is very
much informed by the landscape and area that he’s making art in.

All of these artists contribute to growing the hip-hop community in a state that doesn’t regard it on the regular, and commonly shuns it altogether. As films (being a major industry in India) progress and grow over the years, we’ll hopefully see more of the hip-hop scene being represented and normalized in India.

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