Indian rapper Hard Kaur talks about women empowerment and the evolution of rap music in India
From releasing her first EP Voodoo Hill in 1997 to an album titled Supawoman ten years later, Indian rapper Hard Kaur has come a long way. Known to be a force to reckon with because of her catchy lyrics and bold attitude alike, she has also been an advocate for female empowerment since the beginning, even as she rose to fame with Ek Glassy, and Paisa Phek in 2007 Bollywood film Johnny Gaddar — all the while also being fondly called India’s first female rapper in the otherwise male-dominated industry and we caught up with her recently, and here's what you need to know about Hard Kaur.
Now, the rapper will be seen in the fourth edition of Levi’s online campaign called #IShapeMyWorld, along with Hyderabad-based shuttler Jwala Gutta, Mumbai-based playback singer Aditi Sharma and Delhi-based India’s basketballers, Singh Sisters. It aims to celebrate the power of women and their determination to inspire change. Taran Kaur Dhillon, or Hard Kaur as she is more commonly referred to, expresses herself in the simplest form by tracing her roots before taking up rap music.“I have broken barriers, stereotypes and even shattered the glass ceiling throughout my life with the help of my mother, and that is what made me take up the project,” Kaur tells us when we ask what inspired her. “I will be lucky if even one woman finds strength and inspiration through this, to carry on my journey to fight,” she adds.
While the campaign is a bigger platform for women to speak out, among all other genres, rap music has always been known to be about voicing opinions. But while earlier it was thought to be only among accomplished rappers, it now slowly seems to be trickling down to the streets. In India, the rise is evident, with the boom of multilingual rap music in the last few years.“While rap was earlier termed as underground and violent music, it has now become the ‘voice of the people’ and expressive music,” says Kaur. The 39-year-old singer goes on to add that the change is quite prominent because more than half of the artistes in the Top 10 charts around the world are women. However, while the difference is seen abroad, the drastic change in India is yet to show, due to the lack of backing and recognition. When it comes to the music industry, there is always a chance of getting influenced by another artiste’s work. “In the early days, you had to compete with artistes like Snoop Dogg, whose style or originality, if reproduced, would just be shut down,” Hard Kaur reminds us, as she emphasises on the need for artistes to be original and have their own voice.
With the campaign being foremost on her priority list right now, we eagerly ask what’s next for the rapper and being the livewire she is, she reveals to us that she will be collaborating with Tony Sebastian of DopeadelicZ fame, and Anirudh Ravichander yet again. While she has sung in South India for the 2016 Telugu film Sarrainodu with a song by the same name, she had also sung Chennai City Gangsta in the 2013 Tamil film Vanakkam Chennai with Anirudh Ravichander, Hiphop Tamizha, Hard Kaur and Country Chicken, which was quite popular among the audience. With an energetic album Rising Mixtape Volume 1 in 2017, Hard Kaur adds that a Volume 2, featuring artistes like Kru172, MC Altaf among others, is also in the works.