The Down Troddence, a metal band with Kerala roots, and Street Academics, a hiphop band singing in English and Malayalam, have brought out songs of protest.

Kerala music bands bring out songs to protest against CAA and NRCLeft: 'Hara Hara' by Street Academics, Right: 'Fight, React, Be a part' by TDT
news Saturday, December 28, 2019 - 18:24

It couldn’t wait, the song had to be written now and sung. The Down Troddence, a metal band with Kerala roots, had last brought out an album five years ago. But they could not wait for the next album anymore. They had to voice their protest at what’s happening in the country right away. ‘Fight. React. Be a part!’ was made in 3-4 days and released on Christmas Eve, at a time when protests have broken out across the country against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens, which when combined, can put thousands of people from the Muslim community in detention centres if they're deemed 'illegal immigrants'.

A day earlier, another Kerala-based music band Street Academics too had brought out a song called ‘Hara Hara’, with very explicit words condemning the newly passed bill and what it meant to the religious minorities.

“TDT has always spoken politics in our music, we are known for telling the truth as it is. Our band is called The Down Troddence. We have a duty to talk about politics,” says Munz, the vocalist of the band.

Rape cases mounting
Assam is rising
Silence is sanction
Stand with uprising
Numbing denial
Knife to a file
Dancing and lynching
To the modified order

Munz sings, with guest vocalist Kel from the band Heretic. “We need to talk. Every small protest counts. I had my personal protest by shaving my moustache and wearing a skull cap to work. The company I work for -- Dunzo -- has been very accommodating of our protests. But there is a need to be part of the cause in a bigger way. The artist protests through his art," he says.

Taking a stance of course meant there were going to be angry comments, offended people, and ‘unlikes’ on social media. “Fortunately we are a band that does not care how people see us. Every music band cannot take such a stance, when they have to tour the country and they cannot offend the Sangh Parivar supporters who may then create a problem,” Munz says.

But among the ‘hate’ messages, there have also been some conversations, some discussions and the band is happy that it’s at least made some think. “We are not rock stars but when we take a stance, when the individual musicians in the band who have followers take a stance, it will make at least some people think about what’s going on in the country.”

It is with similar thoughts that the bilingual (English and Malaylam) hiphop band Street Academics brought out ‘Hara Hara’. “It was very important that we bring the song out right away and that we make it very direct. There was no point in being artistic at the moment,” says Haris Saleem, who conceived and performed the song.

The song begins with the very clear message: “CAA explicitly violates Article 14 of the Constitution. We unconditionally support the democratic protests by the citizens of India (especially students).”

And then Haris, masked and tied and about to face the ‘rope’, sings:

Eyeballs gouged out, can't see
Nails in eardrums, can't hear
Legs are amputated, can’t run
Tongue tied and words killed, can't sing
Can't bear the silence any more.

He breaks the chains and tears away the mask in the video. “The song is meant for the so-called neutral people. Those who are already protesting on the streets know what is going on. This is for the others who think themselves secular but still ask the question ‘ithokke veno’ (do we need all this?),” Haris says.

In July this year, Street Academics was stopped from performing at a Bengaluru venue by some in the audience, for singing in Malayalam. And now they are back with their new song, protesting against another kind of discrimination.

The band performed the song live at the recent ‘Art Attack’ protest in Kozhikode against the CAA and the NRC. As the song ends, there is a scroll of Martin Luther King Jr’s words on the screen: “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people, but the silence over that by the good people.”

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