Srinagar Anthem: Kashmiriyat Through Hip-Hop
Made by rappers hailing from Srinagar itself, the duo SOS (StraightOuttaSrinagar) and Ahmer Javed of Azadi Records, Srinagar Anthem is a song of hope, resilience, pride, and reclamation. Produced by NDS, and filmed by XO Visuals, this track and its video are a piece of art that will for long not be forgotten.
With powerful lyrics, and incredible production- you will find yourself playing this song on repeat once you’ve heard it. Each rapper kills the beat with a beautiful flow, the flute-like samples and ad libs make it all the more enjoyable and easy to bop to all day.
The song starts with Ahmer’s hook-
Srinagar meri jaan, halka na hum main se koi bhi
(Srinagar, my life, don’t play with us, don’t take it lightly)
Humla ye bache gha koi nahi, aane do aagey ho koi bhi
(We are about to ambush, show up if you really want it with us)
Srinagar meri shaan, halka na hum main se koi bhi
(Srinagar, my fulfillment, don’t play with us, don’t take it lightly)
These lyrics are an expression of pride towards his Kashmiri identity, a threat to those who he challenges through his writing- people who take his identity and his art for granted, those who attack it, those who do not realize the power of his work. Ahmer, who previously released an album “Little Kid, Big Dreams” has focused on this aspect in all of his work. Kasheer, a track from LKBD was a similar reclamation. Only this time, it’s even closer to home. Ahmer has grown up in Srinagar and his work is inspired by his experience through the occupation and more. His work is his protest, his resistance towards the state that is responsible for the atrocities his people have faced for over 70 years.
His resilience to the occupation is clear in the words he writes. Srinagar anthem is a feeling shared by many in the valley. They continue to fight, despite all odds. Ahmer expresses that he and his people will carry on making their art, they will not back down no matter what force tries to stop them. Srinagar anthem is inspiring because it is a song of strength.
Har ek ke liye yahan darjan
(For every single person, there are twelve)
Tab bhi hum likhte ye gaane
(Still we write these songs)
Badle hai humne zamaane
(We rewrite our fate everyday)
Mausiqui leke unchai pe
(Giving you the art that you deserve)
Goonje ghe ab ye fasaney!
(So you better sing this with us for our city)
Talking about the military presence in Kashmir, there are 12 army men for each civilian. This is the situation SOS and Ahmer have grown up in. It is no secret that artists, especially those who express their feelings about their own oppression by the state and its people are facing a constant threat by the authorities today. They express that still, they continue to write these songs- rewrite their fate. This song is one of hope, that perhaps one day they will be able to reclaim their city from the forces that occupy it.
This is followed by Tufail’s (one half of SOS) verse-
Jaake pooch kabhi naam lal chowk se D-town
(Go and ask about me in lal chowk or downtown)
Dekh gaane kaise bajey delhi se K-town
(These songs get played from Delhi to Karachi)
Mai scene ka CR phir bhi class mein late aau
(I am the CR in this game, and it’s only been 2 years)
Inn sleepwell rapperon pa kabhse laita hun
(These rappers are too lazy that’s why I have been sleeping on them)
I keep it all hun na mai karta chase clout
(I keep it a hundred, I do not chase clout)
You do it for the fun tabhi karta 6 sound
(You do it for fun, that’s why you don’t have your own sound)
I hear this song playing in Delhi sometimes, and as a daughter of a Kashmiri woman myself, I feel a certain sense of pride that rappers from Kashmir and their art is being heard and celebrated, even with its political nature, one that clearly expresses a sense of Kashmiriyat and belonging. Tufail’s verse is a clear proclamation of his talent and what he’s doing in the scene already. With a fresh new sound, powerful lyrics, and stunning visuals, these artists truly aren’t to be messed with.
Fame doesn’t motivate them, their identity, their city and their people do. Their lives and the lives of those around them inspires them and the Anthem. It is by the people, for their people.
It is true what they say in their songs, they are not to be taken lightly. As individuals and as artists, they have outdone themselves with each successive track.
Syed Arslan, also known as Aatankki (other half of SOS)'s verse probably best describes how insane (and I say this in the best possible way) this track is and how well the artists know how great it is-
Har gaana Faate maano dynamite
(Every song to them is like dynamite)
Trip har verse hai bete versatile
(Trippy with the vibe but versatile with every step)
Srinagar mera, tera poora clan ban
(Srinagar is mine, don’t step in without permission)
Kashmir belongs to Kashmiris, as is expressed in this very anthem multiple times. They express throughout the song that this city is their own and that their art is powerful enough to fight big forces.
The visuals for the track follow the boys through Srinagar. All three of them are seen in some of the most iconic locations of Kashmir such as the Dal, and Boulevard Road. As well as the streets they have grown up in, bridges and parks. They are surrounded by locals, some holding up the SOS symbol on a flag. Their confidence and pride are clear and delightful to watch. The video ends with the three looking over their city from a hill, with a full view of Srinagar.
Ahmer, Tufail & Aatankki have given wings to hip-hop in Kashmir. They’re trying to encourage more young artists to write and make music. Through their music and their penmanship, they are bringing Kashmiri hip-hop to notice. From Delhi to Karachi, Lal Chowk to Downtown, this track is both a fight and a celebration.