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Borkung Hrangkhawl: Tripura rapper who fights racism with music

Unlike other rappers his age, Borkung Hrangkhawl from Tripura likes to rap about discrimination and racism, not alcohol, women and parties.

music Updated: Feb 09, 2016 16:08 IST
Borkung Hrangkhawl,Tripura,Rap
A Delhi University alumnus, Borkung Hrangkhawl is the son of Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl, president of the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura. Borkung performs at Rongali Festival 2016 in Guwahati.(Borkung.hrangkhawl/Facebook)

A rapper from Tripura Borkung Hrangkhawl is creating music that talks of discrimination rather than simply entertain audience. Naturally then alcohol, women and parties are not his “taste” when it comes to rapping. Son of a politician, Borkung likes to regale music lovers with songs that highlight issues like racism and discrimination that is widely faced by the people of the region.

“Singing about clubs, alcohol and ladies are part of rapping, but they are not my taste. Rapping is a gift from God that I want to use in making a difference,” said Borkung here on the sidelines of the second edition of Rongali, Assam’s destination, culture and harmony festival.

The son of Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl, president of the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura, finds the genre interesting as he believes “you can literally tell a story through a rap song”.

“Being from Tripura, I felt like I have lots of things to say. My father is a politician. I got inspired by him because he has been working for the welfare of tribal people in Tripura. So, I picked up rapping to tell the stories of my life, people in Tripura and others around it,” said Borkung.

“Tribal people’s rights in Tripura are being neglected for some reason, probably because of the population ratio... We are declining. Other people have come in and settled there. It’s not that I want to chase away others. We just want our rights as Tripuris. I don’t want to promote violence or anything against humanity. I want to promote equality and peace,” added the 29-year-old.

Borkung has delivered hits like The Roots (Chini Haa), Never Give Up and The Journey and loves to rap in English. (Borkung.hrangkhawl/Facebook)

Talking about violence, the Delhi University alumnus, who began his musical voyage with the hip-hop band DropSquad over five years ago, once got stabbed while strolling in a park in the capital.

“I think it was 2006... I was poked in my chest with a small knife. They poked me three to four times, but it didn’t go in by God’s grace. I asked them why they tried to do it. They said it’s their job. I told them there is no use in doing all this. They thought I was from Nepal.

“Later, they apologised and got me a Bandaid. I could have died. I hope it doesn’t happen to anyone else. It was a bad experience,” he said.

Watch Borkung Hrangkhawl ‘s song Never Give Up here:

Didn’t he feel like returning to his hometown after the incident or on reading about racist attacks on northeast people in the capital?

“I felt like that at one point of time. But I thought why we should run away. We are Indians. I feel that there is a need to bridge the gap.

“Instead of always going to the usual vacation spots in India, they (people from other regions) can go to Guwahati, Tripura or Nagaland. The only thing is that they don’t understand our culture. That’s the only problem. Otherwise, they are also good human beings,” he said.

Listen to Borkung Hrangkhawl’s song The Journey here:

Borkung, who has delivered hits like The Roots (Chini Haa), Never Give Up and The Journey, likes to rap in English as he thinks the language has a greater impact.

“I am more fluent in English. I thought it would be more impactful. Though I did sing ‘The Journey’ in Hindi as well,” he said.

Is he open to Bollywood?

“If an opportunity comes, I will consider it... Not so commercial though. I would like to work on films like ‘Barfi!’ as it’s different. I don’t watch movies for ‘masala’ sake,” said the rapper, who has performed in Chennai, Delhi, Mizoram, Shillong and more.

As of now, he is looking forward to be part of a documentary.

“We are doing a documentary with a few people from Mumbai. I can’t reveal much. They want to make a documentary on people who make protest songs. I am excited about it,” he said.

First Published: Feb 09, 2016 16:06 IST