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 EnjaamiÂ (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 ParambaraiÂ 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?”
@TherukuralArivu, the lyricist of #Neeyaoli and singer as well as lyricist of #joyenjami is invisible again. @RollingStoneIN and @joinmaajja is it so difficult to understand that the lyrics of the two songs call into question this erasure of public recognition? https://t.co/jqLjfS9nwY
– pa.ranjith (@beemji) August 22, 2021
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.
Enjoy Enjaami is at the heart of Arivu’s words, its history and the social context of displacement that the marginalized must go through. Not giving a distinct feature or priority and instead focusing solely on Dhee only puts the performer first, of which the concern will hardly be.
– AYUSHIâ ?? · ð ?????? ð ???? » (@ ayushidelhi1996) 23 Aug 2021
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… ”
Including the Times Square incident made it clear that she was right and how Arivu was systematically erased from the photo.
Yes, the caste played a major role here and they exposed Arivu and his talents and betrayed him. This has happened to many Dalits in the past.
– Shalin Maria Lawrence (@ TheBluePen25) August 22, 2021
Here are some other reactions to the magazine cover:
– @RollingStoneIN Arivu should have been a part of this coverage more than anyone. the song Enjoy enjaami is about his anticast struggles. Rolling Stone extensively covers issues of racial diversity in the United States, but makes marginalized voices in India invisible. fix it! pic.twitter.com/ApA4kDHCvk
– Agatha Srishtie ???? ¸ (@SrishtyRanjan) 23 Aug 2021
This is what racism and cultural appropriation looks like in India. The brilliant lyricist and performer of the two #EnjoyEnjaami and #NeeOli are @TherukuralArivu. The erasure of Dalit lives and experience is real. #JaiBhim #JaiBheem https://t.co/Se9JOfJucZ
– Théo Sitther (@theositther) August 22, 2021
Why is it @TherukuralArivu not here? This is exactly what the song was about. #EnjoyEnjaami became a rage because of the man’s hard-hitting words. The song was inspired by the stories her grandmother told her. How can this be fair? https://t.co/bGTMvUe4Jc
– Subhakeerthana (@bhakisundar) August 22, 2021
– Ivan_manoj (@its_me_mano) August 20, 2021
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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