Ishita Kaur, aka Ish Kaur, is probably India’s youngest female rapper. The Delhi girl started at 13, turning to music when she was bullied in school and joining a student hip hop group called Gangster Soul.
Now 18, she raps in Punjabi and English, sometimes mixing the two, often teaming up with other young rappers too. She recently returned from her first gig abroad in Bangkok and has a huge following on YouTube and ReverbNation.
(Photo: Gaurav Paul)
But in a world where rappers tend to be school dropouts, gang lords or delinquents, Kaur stands geekily apart. Last year, she cleared her class 12 board exams with 92 per cent.
Kaur lives a kind of double life: she works on her lyrics, beat and rhythm all day and studies for three hours at night towards a degree in fashion design. “Education should be your first priority even if you want to become a star,” she says. It helps that her family is supportive – her mother accompanies her on tour and to events where she is performing.
For now, Kaur raps the things that make up a teen universe – friends, family and everyday problems in a girl’s life. But there are some surprises: lyrics about being a woman in a male-dominated world and songs about empowerment.
Her recent hit
is about how girls worry too much about their looks and what the world thinks of them. For Mother’s Day this year, she also composed
, an ode to her mother, an unusual subject in hip hop. “Rap need not use harsh words,” Kaur says. It can be more down-tempo and express emotions without getting nasty.
The once-bullied kid is a popular girl in college today. She’s planning more women-oriented music and “songs that focus on men and tell the true story about men too.”
Hip-Hop artist Raftaar finds her a decent rapper who will learn with time: “The good thing is that she is passionate.”
From HT Brunch, August 30
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