WATCH: This collective uses hip-hop and gaana to tackle social evils
It's been described as a heady sonic mix of genres ranging from gaana, to hip hop, beatboxing and indie Tamil music. In an attempt to make music an impactful art form, The Casteless Collective, an independent band was formed by Pa. Ranjith and his team. His vision was to create a band along the lines of hip-hop, reggae and bring socio-political discourse in through art, and specifically music. Madras Records, a city-based record co-founded by Arun Ranjan, Tenma and Santhosh Kumar, has designed and implemented a residency program to drive this vision which is what lead to the formation of TCL.
Music sans barriers
"It's a coming together of genres of gaana, hip hop, and independent music," says Arun Ranjan, co-founder of Madras Records. "All of them perform in Tamil but our motive was to take gaana out of its comfort zone and give it an international treatment. So you will hear gaana, rap, jazz, Latin and South American rhythms, funk, Sufi, folk and some R&B. It is music that will make you dance and reflect at the same time."
Musicians in this collective include Tenma of Madras Records who plays bass and is also the musical director of TCL. To provide a global sound and sensibility to the project is Sahib Singh (guitars) and Soundar Rajan (drums) who play in bands like Kurangan, Jatayu, and Emergence. They bring the global sound and sensibility to this project. The hip-hop crew has has Syd Ibu from the Malayasia-based band Tupakeys and Dharavi's rap trio - the Dopeadelicz. This gang includes a beatboxer as part of the Dopeadelicz crew. The rest of the ensemble is the Chennai Gaana squad, having many known names like Dharani, Balachandar, Guna, lyricist/singer Logan, songwriter and rapper Arivu, among others.
A musical revolution
Why Casteless Collective, we ask Arun. "Because that is exactly what this ensemble is," he adds. "Be it the performers or backstage people - we come across countries and demographics. This collective will sing politically motivated songs and address issues like caste, reservations and quotas, poverty, local politics, a daily struggle to exist, and in between all of this, love. And we want to make this a long-term, global musical outfit."
In addition to music, Tenma and Arun have also started the Madras Indie Collective, a not-for-profit collective which will help integrate different mediums like theatre and art making the collective a wholesome experience. So what can the audience expect from The Castless Collection? "If the rehearsals are any indication, the concert is going to be absolutely crazy!"