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‘Music is a greater weapon than a gun to bring about revolution’
Nelson Mandela once said, “Politics can be strengthened by music, but music has a potency that defies politics.” This is true in the case of the creation of Nepali artist Prakash Neupane. His music portrays the aspirations of the Nepali people and reflects the political turmoil in Nepal.
Born in Kohalpur, Neupane, 25, used to listen to the songs of Girish Khatiwada, Sugam Pokharel and Narayan Gopal in his childhood. This unknowingly influenced his musical journey. Neupane started his musical journey when he was 16 with his first official song ‘Aaideuna’. At the end of the year 2015, he recorded his fourth official song ‘Sunana’ which comprised his own lyrics and composition. Then, his single ‘U Got Me’ captured the number one position of music countdowns for months.
Neupane has taken aim at the corruption running rampant in the government and bureaucracy and the unchecked police violence and discontents of parliamentary democracy in his song ‘Bang Bang’. In ‘Arajak Niti’, his subject is the brutal rape and murder of the 13 year old Nirmala Panta in 2018, the perpetrator of which, widely perceived to be protected by the bureaucracy, is still at large. His latest song ‘Bang Bang’ is a political rap song about the civil war, the local Panchayat political system, and Nepal's slow economic progress. His other popular songs include ‘Sunana’, ‘Maya Basa’, and ‘Lagcha Maya Timro’.
Neupane has won several awards including National Poem Competition, National Music Award for his song ‘Sunana’. He has also been nominated in Os Music Award in Best Pop singer category and Tuborg Music Award. Republica's Samiksha Shrestha caught up with Neupane to talk about his musical inspiration and his attempt to tackle various social and political issues prevalent in Nepal. Excerpts:
Tell us about your musical journey and childhood
From childhood, I was interested in music, singing in the classroom, and writing poems and ghazals. I even won a national level poem competition in Nepal when I was 17 years old.
Can you tell us about how you were influenced by rap artists including Yama Buddha, Girish Khatiwada, Laure, Balen, and Unique Poet?
I was mostly inspired by Girish Khatiwada & Raw Barz because I used to love their music and the rap battle. I used to listen to Balen’s and Laure’s songs but wasn't inspired much by them. As I used to write poems those days and was also interested in music, I thought I could also do this and I tried singing at home and started recording on my laptop. Later, I went to Kathmandu from Kohalpur to record my first song which was "Aaideuna". The song was written, composed and performed by me.
How did Raw Barz help in shaping your career?
Raw Barz influenced me but I never participated in Raw Barz so it didn't help in shaping my career but, of course, it motivated me to become a rap artist.
Why did you think about portraying the socio-political contexts and Nepal lagging behind through music?
Everyone listens to music these days, and most of the young generation listens to rap music. I also believe music is a greater weapon than a gun to bring about a revolution. Rap is a form of rhythm and poetry so it's better to raise voice against corruption, socio-political issues through music. At least it'll help to bring some change.
What is your concept of nep-hop?
Nep is Nepali and hop is hip-hop so it can be known as Nepalis’ hip-hop too. Talking about the concept, it is the style of music distinguished by a strong, rhythmic beat and a rapping vocal track in our own Nepali language
Now you are in Thailand. How are you contributing to the Nepali music industry while being away from your home country?
These days I'm writing for my upcoming projects and I'm also helping other artists in Nepal by composing and writing songs for them. As soon as I'll be back to Nepal, I'll start working with different rappers and release a new album. It'll be fun.
- by Samiksha Shrestha
- by Manawi Shah