Five years ago, when Hirandas Murali aka Vedan saw a so-called upper-caste man chasing away Dalit kids in his village for playing in his barren field as if they were stray animals, it rattled him.
A natural artist, the rapper used his best tool to raise his voice against the injustice based on caste, class and colour that continues to exist around him — music.
Vedan’s sharp verses and ideologies are familiar to Malayalis, ever since his first release ‘Voice of the voiceless. His latest single ‘Vaa’, that released recently carries a similar call for liberation and evolution and is grabbing attention online from his rap music lovers across the state.
For Vedan, ‘Vaa’ is a clarion call for change. “The song is an outcry on the Dalit issues, racism, the injustices prevailing against women. It emphasises the need for peaceful coexistence among people, animals and birds. It is a call to come and join the fight, the conversations and to shatter the barricades of class systems that continue to divide us,” says Vedan.
For him, this is a lot more personal. Vedan has seen and experienced discrimination since he was a child, growing up as the son of a bricklayer in a hicksville village near Thrissur.
‘Vedan’, his stage name that stands out, is a nickname he has had since he was a kid. Vaa is the third song of the rapper who came to the limelight sometime last year.
“Being young blood, it’s natural for us to get violent as we to stand up to the ill-treatment we face. But violence is not the answer. The need of the hour is to change yourself and be an example. My rap is my politics, it is also how I communicate through art for change. I write my verses in colloquial Malayalam with a dash of Tamil. It is the slang that I grew up speaking. I am rooting myself to become the reason why kids like me can grow up free in the future,” says Vedan.
His craft is making an impact, he says, according to all the positive comments and feedback he is getting.
But it has not all been a cakewalk. Vedan has received plenty of criticism, even death threats. “I received a lot of abusive comments initially when I started rapping. There were physical threats too, but I am cautious of my actions. Change doesn’t come easy, so I try to not pay attention to the negativity,” he says.
In his songs, he also addresses the patriarchy in our society, “When I speak on the discrimination, it also includes the way women are oppressed even now - at homes, streets and workspaces,” adds a feminist Vedan.
Despite his stardom, Vedan continues to live the life of a layman, and that is what makes his music authentic and raw.
“I go for bricklaying work as a daily labourer along with my friends and father. That is where I earn the money to make music. But Vaa was a crowd-funded project,” says Vedan, who did a song for the Kunchako Boban-starrer Nayattu.