‘Monkeys with 5G’ by Arivu and Madan Gowri uses pop culture to call out casteism

A screenshot from ‘Monkeys with 5G’ by Tamil rapper Arivu (right) and Madan Gowri (left)  

Even though animated emojis (AniMojis) replace rapper-lyricist Arivu and YouTuber Madan Gowri’s faces in their vibrant collaboration, ‘Monkeys with 5G’, behind the cheeky looks is a song about casteism.

Through pop culture-heavy references to mobile apps that have apparently ushered India into a new digital phase, the duo talks about technological addiction and how it has perhaps blinded people to systemic injustices that still need changing. Gowri (26) says, “The intention was to take it to the millennials and Gen Z in a more power-packed and effective way. In order to have that impact, we had to be peppy.” By the end of his quick-fire rap, Arivu says we need to use our phones to delve into problems like casteism and social discrimination (there’s even a screenshot from the nationwide anti Citizenship Amendment Act protests that appears) and amplify our voices against it.

Watch ‘Monkeys With 5G’ on YouTube.



Using their platform

One of South India’s biggest YouTube content creators, Gowri’s subscriber base has grown to 3.41 million since he started in 2016. This has catapulted ‘Monkeys with 5G’ to over six lakh views from the time it was uploaded on May 11. It is the first song released on the channel and it finds a place amongst his regular programming, which dissects current affairs as well as health, philosophy and business.

Arivu, for his part, has quickly grown into one of the country’s finest Tamil rappers creating socially charged material (on his debut album Therukural with producer OfRO) as well as being called on for film work (Natpe Thunai). The two connected after Gowri reached out to Arivu to congratulate him on the latter’s release of the song ‘Kallamouni’ last year.

Madan Gowri

Madan Gowri  

Beyond the beat

The first version of ‘Monkeys with 5G’ was ready within two hours, according to Gowri. In the video and in the sonic tone of the track, there’s EDM production (from beatsmith Anto Franklin AC) and upbeat delivery, but Arivu says it wasn’t about having fun with the topic necessarily. “I just wanted to be satirical about those issues happening. Caste is a dangerous mindset, it needs to be annihilated from every mind. The pain is the same, I just don’t want to be sad anymore. This approach is to create a discussion with the world, more like a friend. Let’s join hands to drive caste away from society.”

Shot entirely on an iPhone 11 Pro, the song seems to mark a beginning for Gowri to foray into music. “It is always a powerful medium to send a strong message, and that is what we hoped for with ‘Monkeys with 5G’. So yes, it happened quite naturally. I have a few other collaborations in the pipeline, one of which is another song about nature and travel. I will release it when the time is right,” Gowri concludes.

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Printable version | Jun 19, 2021 1:04:27 PM |

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