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‘Little Kid, Big Dreams’ a debut we will never forget

Kahan se aata mein? Sab se darrawni jagah se
Insaaf hi mana hai, gunegaari mein mazza hai yahan

Srinagar based artist Ahmer Javed’s much-awaited debut release in collaboration with Delhi based producer Sez On The Beat is finally out. ‘Little Kid, Big Dreams’, released on label Azadi Records, is an 8-track album, a personal account of Ahmer’s home and life in Kashmir. Rapping about Kasheer as Kashmiris fondly call their home, roughly translating to “mother Kashmir”, Ahmer is trying to bring a change in how Kashmir is represented in Indian culture. Singing about the horrors his people have had to endure for decades, Ahmer embodies the spirit of the valley in a metaphorical way. “My uncle, Shaheed Aijaz Ahmed Dar, was the first one killed in the insurgency that has plagued Kashmir. I wanted to immortalize his legacy, one that a lot of people have tried to bury and highlight his life’s influence on me. The Kashmiri translation of Macbeth was something that had been in my mind for a while – I felt it perfectly narrated the tragedy of Kashmir.”

Tumhe? Kya pata tume curfews kya hote, kaise sab darr se na sote
Muh pe duct tape ye thope
Balatkaar khule aam, tu chilaaye? Toh qatle aam
Kaise sunne woh rab jab vaishi nikla har insaan
Apne hi mukhbir, apne hi beimaan
Berozghaari pasand, khush-haali na ho bardaasht
Khoon ki hai talab, jispe palti hai sarkaar

It’s a heavy album to digest and it’s bound to be like that. The truth is heavy on the shoulders of anyone who is ready to accept it. But people who seek to push their propaganda, they might reject all the stories Ahmer weaves while spitting proud bars after bars. The Indian government has rejected various claims of human rights violation against the people of Kashmir in the decades post-independence but the memories are etched into the memories of the people of the land.

Coupled with clever production by Sez, Ahmer delivers a culturally relevant and a culturally forward album. Relevant, pertaining to the truths of his home Kashmir, and forward because the Kashmiri language is finding a new voice through Ahmer. When does a language die? When people stop singing in it, writing in it. When it stops finding a place in popular culture. It just stops spreading. Without new ears, a language slowly wanes away into a thing mentioned in history books. Ahmer infuses new life into Kashmiri, juxtaposing it with new-age Indian hip-hop with the help of Sez. “I advised Ahmer against rapping in English and told him to incorporate more Kashmiri into the song. He took my inputs and made the changes and then a new beat was made using some of the old elements like the skit and a couple of drum sounds. Galat is the most dynamic track on the album. It starts from a basic beat and gradually becomes more aggressive in the second verse. It finally calms down with the skit and finishes in a grand way.”

“I try to end this verse (on Elaan), reminding people where I come from, the most densely militarised zone on the planet. The most dangerous, where justice has no value, your basic rights don’t mean shit. You have enemies in every block, you never know who is following you, might kill you, you can’t be sure. I’m just letting them know that I’m not a loser and I won’t give up on this, it’s not in my blood. I fight death everyday.”

Menu chayedi aa azadi nakli soch toh
Pyon di pahunch toh
Kashmir di fauj toh
Menu rok lo ya thok do
Meri awaaz twaade toh zyaada bulandh
Lok sabha vich jinaa marzi bhonk loA verse by Prabh Deep on ‘Elaan’

‘Little Kid, Big Dreams’ is not your everyday release. This is a moment in India’s music history that we will look back upon a decade later, finally being able to collect and articulate all the ripples that this album is making even as you’re reading this sentence. And as per Ahmer’s choice of the album’s theme Kashmir, who does it belong to? Only to everyone who calls it home.

Hear the album :

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