Often used as a form of opposition against dominance, rap, as part of hip-hop culture since the 70s, originated in Africa, centuries before hip-hop was created. Rap is generally used to address marginalized groups.
Author and sociologist Nida Kirmani lately shared her two cents on privilege and rap on Twitter which did not sit well with many music fans. Nida referred to Faris Shafi as an “elite” rapper who was taking over a genre that was originally intended to voice the plight of the underprivileged.
The activist, in a tweet on Monday, shared that because “rap is an art form of the marginalized,” rappers like Faris should leave it.
One of the many defendants in Faris’s case was his sister and singer Meesha Shafi who explained why she found Nida’s argument “flat and problematic” when applied to him locally and specifically.
In her argument, Nida failed to check whether Faris really comes from privilege and even if he does, what all the Pakistani hip-hop scene entails and stands for.
Meesha refuses to hold back:
“Faris and I were raised by an extremely hardworking, very financially stressed single mother. We do not come from money,” assured Meesha. “Are you suggesting, just because she put her sweat and tears into managing to give us a private education, we should step aside from our merits and talent and go do something else?” asked the Hot Mango Chutney Sauce crooner.
When a user interjected, “But if you are not privileged, you can’t afford to live with all comforts without making money for 10 years,” Meesha replied, “who said he lived with all comforts? I know very well that people love to assume they know everything about public figures. But you know what they say about those who think they know everything, right?”
Meesha addressed Nida’s comment about Faris’ rap being entertaining and called it “a grossly reductive and offensive statement to his brilliant pen and courage.”
When Nida maintained that privileged groups are dominating the genre, Meesha countered that as well.
In a separate tweet, Meesha also took a subtle jibe at Nida, who teaches at LUMS. “The elite should only be allowed to teach at universities and educate other elites. How dare they appear on Coke Studio.”
Shots were fired:
Meesha made sure to pepper Nida with jibes to support her brother.
As Nida refused to back down and maintained her position, she ended the debate on a lighter note and tweeted, “I do hope Faris and Meesha give me some royalties on their upcoming release for helping build so much hype around it!”
While privilege certainly plays a part in an artist’s success in Pakistan, Nida needs to realize she cannot use assumptions to call out a particular artist.
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