Rap befriends and blends mellifluously with Kozhikode slang in the hip-hop number “Native Bapa”

Actor Mamu Koya and hip-hop. Incongruous it may appear, but the two gel well to give the young, hip-hop band, “Mappila Lahala”, a thumping debut. Their debut rap number, “Native Bapa” had an online launch three days ago and has recorded over 70,000 views.

Mamu Koya is the soul of “Native Bapa” and his Kozhikode slang finds its musical metre in rap. As a Muslim father in contemporary times, he takes us through a familiar story — a father’s angst and a mother’s sorrow when a son is branded a terrorist. Mamu Koya narrative makes the intensely personal story while the rap elements echo a larger, universal sentiment.

The young men behind “Native Bapa” say blending hip-hop, Mamu Koya and the story of a regular Muslim family was deliberate. To the motley band made of men from different fields, “Native Bapa” is an attempt to revive cultural elements de-glamourised by time and society. Their mission begins with the title of the song — ‘Bapa’, a fond, colloquial term for father rendered unfashionable now.

“Lots of cultural elements of the classical mappila region have been de-glamourised. We hope to give back these elements its dignity,” says Muhsin Parari, the director of the video and a freelance journalist. “And please don’t call mappila a community, what we mean is a cultural collective,” he adds.

Friends getting together

According to Muhsin, the band is the coming together of friends who bumped into each other at film festivals and cultural events. The core group which they call the “guardians” comprises academicians, students and professionals. “Harris is our rapper and Samir Bincy, our qawwali singer, the rest of us are involved in scripting and background work,” he says. For “Native Bapa” shot around Kozhikode, they got Roy George to do the music.

For a band that is digging deep into the colloquial and cultural ethos of a region and seeking pride in them, their name had to bear their signature. “We took on the term ‘lahala’ to convey dissent,” says Muhsin.

For the band which aims to be the “collective self-respect of the oppressed be it Dalits, women or Muslims”, hip-hop became a natural genre with its history of resistance.

“With ‘Native Bapa’ we attempt to bring back the dignity of a de-glamorised slang. Bringing in Mamu Koya was deliberate, his slang has been associated with the funny,” says Muhsin who penned a poem titled “Native Bapa” which later grew into the song. The theme of the song was a natural one for the young men. Most Muslim men of their age and from the region often feel the need to explain their loyalty, points out the 24-year-old Muhsin.

All Muhsin gives is a content smile to the heart-warming response to the video online. “Native Bapa” was born, thanks to the generosity of friends who pooled in close to Rs 2 lakhs.

“Mappila Lahala” is planning ahead. On the anvil is a presentation of K. Satchidanandan’s satire, “Kozhipanku” in rock format. Till that takes shape, it is Mamu Koya’s poignant “Bomb…bomb” that will ring in our ears.