India's feminist hip hip artist, Hard Kaur.

India’s feminist hip-hop artist, Hard Kaur.

Indian hip-hop artist Hard Kaur recently released a new single, “Sherni,” a word that loosely translates to “lioness” or “tigress.” The video is sweeping YouTube across the Desi diaspora and other audiences.

Kaur recently spoke with India’s Catch News about the album.

“‘Sherni’ is about all of us. You are a sherni, I am a sherni. I think everyday in our lives, we have to be sherni to survive. I can’t believe that it’s still 2016 because women are still dealing with inequality — getting paid less for doing the same job, etc. It just struck me that I’ve had enough of all this. I now want all girls to become sherni. Let’s just stop accepting that we are less than anyone else.”

When asked about her own definition of feminism and empowerment, Kaur had a fairly straightforward explanation for listeners and fans:

“Don’t take anyone’s s**t. You are as important as anybody else in the world. Don’t think you should have limits — like ‘Oh I am a girl, I can’t do this’ or ‘I am Indian, I shouldn’t be behaving like this’. You are a human being like everybody else and life is too short to worry about these things. Live and let live. Stop bugging people. Let them do what they want. Stop hiding behind computer screens and trying to dis people.”

Catch News asks, “Now that Hard Kaur is talking about feminism and women’s empowerment, can we expect her to stand up for other female artists over different issues in the industry?”

She says:

“I have already stood up for a lot of people on a lot of issues. But, how much of me standing up for other people is going to make a change unless they themselves start standing up for themselves? I am not going to sit and fight for everybody. Maine sabka theka nahi liya hai. I can’t help all. We all need to be a part of this change.”

The message is strong and positive, but the execution is still a bit appropriative. Moving beyond the age-old conversation of “Can non-appropriative hip hop exist outside of Black culture?” one also has to examine what has been taken from hip-hop in this video: diamond grills, cars and fashion.

However, when it’s used as a tool to further a progressive political agenda — such as feminism in a traditionally patriarchal society — is the net effect greater than the harm? It’s a difficult balancing act and worthy of a deep conversation.

Related: Redefining what it means to be female in Hip Hop

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