Dhee magazine cover slammed for sidelining rapper Arivu

Dhee magazine cover faces a backlash: A magazine cover featuring Southern Sri Lankan singer Dheekshitha Venkadeshan, known as “Dhee”, faces a backlash. The cover features Dhee alongside Canadian singer Shan Vincent de Paul. However, there is one artist who, according to social media, should have been part of the cover as well, having played a huge role in the songs that made these two singers popular – Arivu. The rapper and lyricist wrote the songs Neeye Oli (sung by Paul) and Enjoy Enjaami (co-sung by Dhee) also lending his voice to the latter.

Social media accused the magazine and music label Maajja of “marginalizing” rapper-singer Arivu, allegedly because of his caste, and dismissing him from promotions of songs that have become global hits. Arivu’s lyrics made these songs sharp political commentaries, playing an important role in their success.

Famous Southern filmmaker PA Ranjith, known for directing films like Kabali, Kaala and Sarpatta Parambarai also kicked off the magazine’s cover, questioning Arivu’s invisibalisation, writing: “Is it so hard to understand that the lyrics of both songs challenge this erasure of public recognition?”

Several users and social media activists have drawn attention to the fact that the rapper is not getting his due and that caste-based prejudice could be the reason. One user wrote: “Enjoy Enjaami is at the heart of Arivu’s words, its history and the social context of displacement that the marginalized have to go through. Not giving any separate functionality or priority and instead focusing solely on Dhee only puts the performer first, whose barriers will hardly be concerned with overcoming. She further added that Arivu should have been on the cover and the magazine should have featured a separate interview with him, instead of reducing his work to “dark lyricism” in the featured article.

However, many users pointed out that Arivu’s marginalization began long before the PR campaign began for the songs he wrote. Activist Shalini Maria Lawrence pointed out in her tweet how despite the writing and co-singing “Enjoy Enjaami “, the title of the song was “Dhee ft Arivu”, which indirectly makes it Dhee’s song. Writing that Arivu was “systematically erased” from the photo, Lawrence wrote: “Yes, the caste here played a major role and they denounced Arivu and his talents and betrayed him. This has happened to many Dalits in the past… ”

Here are some other reactions to the magazine cover:

Who is Arivu?

Arivu is a 27-year-old rapper from Tamil Nadu. He rose to fame when his song “Sanda SeivomCriticizing the law amending the citizenship law and the national register of citizens has gone viral. Her father is a teacher in a public college while her mother works as a teacher. Growing up, Arivu faced discrimination in school because of his caste and the color of his skin. “I faced enormous discrimination there (his school), but until recently I never realized it was discrimination. There were professors who mistreated me by my caste name, students who taunted me for being dark, ”he told The Wire.

Arivu published his first collection of poetry after completing his engineering course and while completing his MBA. Incidentally, it was director PA Ranjith who gave the rapper his first big break with a song for the Rajinikanth star. Kaala.


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Amanda P. Whitten

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