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How Delhi’s first transgender rapper is bending rules with her debut album

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New Delhi, March 5 (IANS) She says everyone always wants her to talk about struggles, about how she might be suffering, and she feels that is what the audience wants to know. “But for me, it is paramount that my music makes people dance, and celebrate, while also being honest and real,” said Kinari, recipient of the Toto Music Awards 2024, who has emerged as one of the foremost voices for the LGBTQ+ community in Delhi’s rap scene.She stressed that ‘gaana’ songs, ballroom beats and ‘mujra’ numbers in her debut album ‘Kattar Kinnar’ are her musical inspirations. Also Khushi Shaikh, who is someone she deeply respects.Kinari said, “Samples from her iconic vlogs and videos feature heavily as part of the sonic landscape of my album. This is why it was so incredible that she danced for my album’s party,” said Kinari.The opening ‘mujra’ performance by Khushi Shaikh, a trans model and dancer who is quite popular on social media, and samples from Shaikh’s vlogs — a collaboration between ‘mujra’ and rap, both by trans artistes — was the first such commercial gig of its kind in Delhi that happened on March 3.The album will be officially released in mid-March.For someone who learnt casio at school, and is self-trained, Kinari said she has always been alive to the local music scene around her, including wedding bands outside her window in Khirki, or ‘gaana’ music playing in her hometown Chennai while growing up.Listening to hip-hop from a young age, she feels it is the best medium to express herself.”I cannot even think of choosing any other musical styles. There is much more to hip-hop than song and dance. Let us not forget that across the world, artists of this genre speak about social issues and bring contemporary realities alive with their music. Like MC Altaf says, ‘If you listen to hip-hop, become a good person/become a helping hand to wanderer struggling/do good work before you die’,” asserted this 25-year-old, who is Delhi’s first transgender rapper.Talking about her debut album, a sonic expression of life in Delhi’s Khirkee Extension that switches fluidly from Hindi to English, she highlighted her heritage by intertwining the beat of wedding bands outside her window with the coruscating pulse of ‘gaana’ songs and cuts of Mari Selvaraj films. The album is an expression of not just the sweet side of being a transgender.“It is also about some bitter truths. It was written and produced in Delhi. I want to share with people the pleasure and power of Tamil ‘gaana’ and Delhi ‘mujra’ dance throughout the album, which has helped me keep going through the daily harshness of life in the city. My song ‘Baahar’ talks more about this, the dichotomy between my day-to-day life in Khirki Extension as a language teacher, and the nights as the Indian hip-hop scene’s exciting new rapper,” she said.And did she face any roadblocks owing to her gender identity?“The main difficulty is not being transgender in the music industry, but being one in Delhi. I make music that I love to make and listen to. I will keep doing this even if the industry does not accept it. I believe in staying close to music and not losing faith,” she said.Raving about Miss Boogie’s latest album ‘The Breakdown’, she asserted that her inspirations keep changing over time.“There are so many transgender and marginalised artistes who are making great music today,” concludes Kinari, who after the album’s release will be going on her first multi-city tour this summer.–IANSsukant/arm

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