Stopped for singing in Malayalam? Hip-hop band protests shoddy treatment in B'luru pub

Foxtrot in Marthahalli, Bengaluru, turned off the microphone during the performance of Street Academics, when three customers objected to the band singing Malayalam songs.
Stopped for singing in Malayalam? Hip-hop band protests shoddy treatment in B'luru pub
Stopped for singing in Malayalam? Hip-hop band protests shoddy treatment in B'luru pub
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In the middle of a song that the hip-hop band Street Academics from Kerala was performing in Bengaluru, the microphone was turned off.  Members of the alternative band did not immediately understand what was going on. They had performed many times in Bengaluru before, but there had never been a problem. Even on this day – July 13 – they could see the crowd singing or moving along, enjoying their bilingual rap in Malayalam and English. They finished the song they were singing without the microphone until someone from Foxtrot, Marthahalli, the venue they performed at, came to call them offstage. For the first time since the band was formed in 1999, it was asked to stop performing, apparently because three people in the audience did not want to hear Malayalam songs.

“We got the gig through 4/4 Experiences (music promoters) and Azadi Records and we had listed as a bilingual band. Mumbai-based band Swadesi was performing and so were we that evening. We did not understand why someone suddenly turned off the microphone without alerting us. Then Prasad from 4/4 who brought us the gig came to meet us. Together we went to see the people of Foxtrot, where we saw three drunk customers who were saying they didn’t want Malayalam sung in the pub. Foxtrot told us that they stopped the gig for our security and that of the rest of the audience. If it was a case of security threat, they should have asked those three drunk people to go out, not us. It showed zero respect for the artists,” says Amjad Nadeem aka Azuran, rapper and vocalist of Street Academics.

The band includes four other rappers – Rjv Ernesto, Dr Haris Saleem, Abhimanyu Raman and Arjun, and music producer Vivek Radhakrishnan.

The hassle did not end with the end of their performance. Later, when Amjad and a few of his friends were offstage, they were taken away by the police. “They said it was for causing public nuisance. But those three drunk men were not taken. From the story I heard later, those three men had repeatedly asked that we sing only in English and when our promoters said it couldn’t be done, they began threatening to throw us out,” Amjad said.

Foxtrot has put out a statement on its Facebook page, acknowledging the incident. “The team at Foxtrot acknowledges the incident last night that arose as some guests responded in an unexpected manner. We respect the artists and their work and have programmed multi-lingual acts ever since we ventured in to live performances; however to de-escalate the issue, safeguard our guests, artists and staff and to avoid a security lapse, we took necessary decisions to pause the show briefly.

We officially apologise to Street Academics, 4/4 Experiences and Azadi Records for the unfortunate experience and would like to reinstate that we are all for great music, but need to take certain calls to ensure people’s safety.

We were only de-escalating the situation, and always do stand by the artist community and music of all kind.”

4/4 has also put out a post about the incident, stating that the performance of Street Academics was stopped by the Foxtrot Management and a group of customers since the songs were in Malayalam. After explaining the exchange between Ravi Kant, the floor manager at Foxtrot and Prasad, they expressed their protest: “We strongly protest against Mr Kant and the Foxtrot management’s behaviour and the lack of respect and support shown by them towards the artists. We would also like to highlight our stand against the atmosphere of intolerance that is targeting artists from different regions and would like to express our concern about the ease with which a small group of people can interrupt a show and get an artist silenced in the absence of support from venues and their management teams. We would also like to apologise to our fans and Street Academics in particular for this incident.”

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