A chat with Chennai-born, Mumbai-based rapper Sofia Ashraf
In August 2015, Kodaikanal Won’t, a Rap song by Sofia Ashraf became a viral sensation, once again, highlighting how the Internet can play a positive role. Several local organisations had long been rallying against consumer goods giant, Unilever to clean up its toxic mess and compensate the families of the workers of a thermometer factory in Kodaikanal.
Rapper Sofia Ashraf strums a tune
This fight had been on since 2001 (when the factory shut down) and it was this viral rap video that made the local government take notice. Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever was forced to respond in a tweet. Nicki Minaj tweeting about it too. “To make the video viral, I knew we would have to piggy back on pop culture. And a song such as Anaconda, which had already grabbed eyeballs, was apt, because there is a large Nicki Minaj fan and hater base.
Hence, people would have the tune in their heads and the song would grab a wider audience. It was vital to get people’s attention to the lyrics. Also, Rap songs and videos today have become misogynistic. So, I thought it would be apt to use Anaconda, which shams skinny women, to sham a corporation,” explains Ashraf. Actors Ashton Kutcher and Mark Ruffalo later tweeted about the video too.
“I have been rapping since I was 19. It merges my love for writing and music. I like to stay away from any sort of tags. I don’t just wish to associate myself with songs that have a social agenda; may be, I may even write a song about ice cream,” ponders the Chennai-born, Mumbai-based artiste. Ashraf had been working with a leading advertising firm in the city and quit her job two months ago. She has since been dabbling in theatre, art and travel.
At Friday’s gig, Ashraf will perform songs that showcase the journey that took her from Chennai to Mumbai. This story would be told in reverse, starting with a song describing the Kodaikanal rap song phase, and ending with her giving up her religion, which led her to move cities a few years ago.
On: October 9
At: The Hive, next to Ahmed Bakery, Chuim Village, Khar (W).
Sofia Ashraf previously worked as a copywriter at Oglivy and Mather while pursuing her rap career simultaneously. We look at others who dable in two professions (Read more)