Arivu is a rapper, singer, lyricist, thinker, and social justice activist from Tamil Nadu. His career was sparked by his involvement with Casteless Collective, a band which combines a range of musical genres like Gaana, Oppari, rap, jazz, and rock to deliver a range of social justice messages challenging the dominance of caste, sexism, religious and political zealotry, among others. In addition to his work with Casteless Collective, he released a rap album in 2019, “Therukural,” with producer ofRo. Arivu’s rap and song lyrics are unabashedly political. He incorporates compelling narrated insights from autobiographical experiences with his observations of sociopolitical injustice. His poetry and lyrics also bear the imprints of his extensive reading of radical writers like Ambedkar, Iyothee Thass, and Alex Haley.
During the 2019-20 anti-CAA/NRC protests in India, Arivu released “Sanda Seivom,” a song which became an anthem for the protests. Another viral protest song, “Anti -Indian,” challenges the ever-narrowing definitions of who counts as “Indian” and derides the bigotry of hypocritical politicians. His protest music also extends to film songs, and his work for popular Tamil movies like Kaala and Soorarai Pottru carry similar themes of social justice. His art is a testament to his firm belief that artists must be politically aware, and that their work must reflect the realities of rampant social inequality and injustice.
Introduction by Constantine V. Nakassis, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Chicago and moderated by Pranathi Diwakar, doctoral student in Sociology, University of Chicago
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