Bengaluru rapper brings Dakhni to mainstream hip hop

Mohammed Affan Pasha dropped his first solo album in his mother tongue. He opens up about his evolution as an artiste
Last Updated : 23 December 2022, 18:28 IST
Last Updated : 23 December 2022, 18:28 IST
Last Updated : 23 December 2022, 18:28 IST
Last Updated : 23 December 2022, 18:28 IST

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The Bangalore Literature Festival held last month had an unlikely speaker — a multilingual rapper, all of 24.

Mohammed Affan Pasha spoke about his journey from the low-income neighbourhood of Bengaluru’s Neelasandra to concert arenas, and bringing
Dakhni, a language spoken by Muslim communities like his in the Deccan region, to mainstream hip hop with his first solo album ‘Bangalore ka Potta’ that has logged over 50,000 streams and 1.5 lakh views since November.

2022 has been a breakout year for Affan, whose mother runs a garment factory and late father was an autorickshaw driver. The BBA graduate, known by the stage name Pasha Bhai, says, “This year, I opened shows for rappers like Divine, MC Stan, and Raftaar, and performed with artistes from the south. Along with (my collective) ‘Clan Bokka Phod’, I performed at the Ziro Festival of Music in Arunachal Pradesh.”

And speaking at a lit fest was “unexpected”. “There, I got to meet Dr Kafeel Khan (who was accused in the Gorakhpur hospital tragedy but exonerated). One of my rap songs ‘Chup Hain Sab’ mentions his name,” he shares.

The song is part of a 2020 album of protest rap ‘Yeh Hai Baghawat’, a collaboration with Akx and Agaahi Raahi. In this, ‘Yeh Hai Siyasat’ calls out the hate politics, ‘Chup Hain Sab’ questions our silence on the north-east Delhi riots, and ‘Ye Hai Inquilab’ appeals for unity.

“It was time for the hip hop community to stand up for those whose voices were not being heard or amplified. Just what rappers did historically,”
he says.

With his 14-track album ‘Bangalore ka Potta’, he returns to the lyrics of resistance. Sample the songs.

‘Bengalore ki Daastan’ is not an ode to the IT prowess of the city but its trigger-happy and classist moments, as Affan had witnessed growing up. ‘Aidavalli’ covers the D J Halli violence (spurred by a defamatory message) to government-biased media and tainted priests.

‘Demon Gang 45’ is Affan’s most “viral” work with 2.8 lakh YouTube views and 8,000 Instagram reels. He is a featuring artiste on this 2020 single by Demon Boyzz, a rap group from DJ Halli. “The video shows a low-income area like DJ Halli, which has never happened. Even autowallahs were playing the song,” he recalls.

He got drawn to hip hop in Class 7 as it did not require formal training, and counts Yo Yo Honey Singh, Smokey the Ghost, Raftaar, Brodha V, Eminem, Naezy, and Divine, as his influences.The breakup songs he wrote initially were “corny”, he would soon realise and pivot to writing on the reality around him, which, he says, “is tough, bro”.

But his ‘tell it like it is’ songs “are not appreciated by some people”. “I got death threats after my performance of the song ‘Yeh Hai Siyasat’ during the CAA-NRC protests in 2020 went viral. But I didn’t bother as these were online,” he shares. He, thus, fears for his family but also derives the spirit of fearlessness from them. Growing up along the border of Neelasandra, which “was a communally-sensitive area”, also toughened him up.

Today, when he walks down the same alleys of Neelasandra, kids follow him and request their ‘Pasha bhai’ to rap.

“Kids see me as an inspiration. It is wholesome,” he signs off.

Back to the roots

Affan, who can rap in English, Hindi, Urdu, and some Kannada, explains his turn towards his mother tongue: “I always wanted to rap in Dakhni but I got the confidence when I learnt about its history and rich literature in the past few years. Dakhni is mistaken to be a dialect of Urdu when it is a language in itself. It was the literary language of the Deccan in earlier centuries, especially Hyderabad and Bijapur, journalist-oral historian Yunus Lasania writes in an Instagram post. It is a mix of Dehlavi (old Urdu) and local languages like Tamil, Kannada, Marathi and Telugu.

Published 23 December 2022, 18:21 IST

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