Youth icon rapper EPR Iyer has recently grabbed people’s attention with his latest rap song that condemns communal unrest in India. In his song which he performed on MTV Hustle, he speaks against the beheading of a tailor in Udaipur. Although many right wing people supported him, he may not be a Hindutva icon.
Slamming Communal Hatred
Santhanam Srinivasan Iyer, aka EPR, hails from Kolkata and is known for his popular rap music that gives out social messages. His latest rap song, ‘Religious Extremism’, played out with him slamming the controversial ‘sar tan se juda’ slogan. It has been used by fundamentalists who call for the murder of people who speak against Islam.
The MTV Hustle artivist (activist-artist wordplay) also opposed the beheading of the tailor Kanhaiyalal in Udaipur by religious extremists. This comes after his open support for former Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s comments against Prophet Muhammad.
In a social media post, he wrote the caption- “Bachao mere desh ko kattarwad ke bhoot se!” (save my country from religious extremism!) He also quoted Martin Luther King Jr in another post- “Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”
EPR’s song sharply comes to the point it intends to make. In an aggressive and pleading tone, he raps, “save my country from religious fundamentalism”. He also spoke against minority violence- “Brainwashed people/Got no conscience/Thoughts of revenge on one community/Lynchings hote common/hate crimes bhi normal tabhi”.
Becoming a sensation overnight with his song on MTV Hustle with rapper Badshah as one of the judges, EPR garnered mixed responses. A right-wing fan tweeted, “Calling a spade a spade. This is not just rap, this is the voice of Hindus”. Also Anurag Saxena, ‘Amar Ujala’ activist, asked Amit Shah to provide security for EPR.
Calling himself a “newspaper rapper”, rapper EPR claims he is simply someone who cares about the events in the country. For him, the history of rap is intimately connected with protests and public activism, and speaking out against social injustice is a primary component.
His neutral stance can be confirmed by his past performances. In his first performance on MTV Hustle 1.0, he rapped about the murder of activist Gauri Lankesh. He has also composed music on broader topics like the pandemic and the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
His debut album, ‘Protest Poetry’, came out in 2020. It included his song ‘Ekla Cholo Re’, which was dedicated to the farmers who were fighting against the Modi government’s 2020 farms laws. He said, “My way is to speak up for people’s rights through rap”.
Disclaimer: This article is fact-checked
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