Academic Nida Kirmani wants 'elites' like Faris Shafi to leave rap, sister Meesha Shafi has a lot to say
Author and sociologist Nida Kirmani shared some of her thoughts on privilege and rap on Twitter that irked many music and Coke Studio fans. It was her targeting of Faris Shafi that had people particularly enraged, especially his sister Meesha Shafi.
The activist wrote that "rap is an art form of the marginalised" hence, Faris should leave it be. Meesha strongly disagreed and supported her brother by calling out Kirmani on her "problematic" perspective.
Kirmani took to Twitter on Monday to talk about how "class and ethnic privilege effects every field in Pakistan". She claimed that most members of the music, literature and TV/film fraternities are from the Punjabi elite.
She continued her thoughts in the thread and said that Faris' rap "may be entertaining but only reinforces this". According to Kirmani, rap is an art form of the marginalised, "adopted and transformed by folks from the inner city". Historically, rap has been a form of musical expression used primarily by Black people in America.
"This is why the rappers like Eva B coming from Lyari are part of a wider tradition. The elite should leave at least this," wrote the activist.
Many fans of the 'Introduction' singer had a problem with the way she named him in her tweet. His sister Meesha jumped in to the conversation to defend him and called out Kirmani for her "flat and problematic" perspective.
"Faris and I were raised by an extremely hard working, very financially stressed single mother. We do not come from money. Are you suggesting, just because she put her sweat and tears into managing to give us a private education, we should step aside from our merits and talent and go do something else?" questioned the 'Hot Mango Chutney Sauce' singer.
She pointed out that Kirmani saying that her brother's rap "may be entertaining" was "a grossly reductive and offensive statement to his brilliant pen and courage."
Meesha also took a jab at Kirmani teaching at LUMS, one of the most prestigious universities in Pakistan and said "the elite should only be allowed to teach at universities and educate other elites. How dare they appear on Coke Studio."
Fans of the rapper took digs at Kirmani.
One Twitter user found Meesha's defence of her younger brother "wholesome".
Another simply credited Faris as the "pioneer of making rap about social/political satire" .
A follower of the singer went on to remind Kirmani that the rapper "writes about stuff that needs to be talked about, he sheds light on the issues through brilliantly crafted and produced lyrical works while not losing essence of the issue."
The entire episode opened a window for meme-makers on Twitter and some definitely seized the moment.
Meesha also cleared the air for many who just found out that she and Faris are related, adding more weight to her argument that his fame and rise as a musician have nothing to do with privilege or connections.
One user noted that Kirmani didn't call out other wealthy and privileged artists.
The argument here is not whether privilege plays a role in an artist succeeding in Pakistan but whether Nida Kirmani understands that she can't make assumptions when calling out a particular artist. Like Meesha said, we aren't all aware of the circumstances of their lives and to assume privilege where there may not have been isn't right. Kirmani's assumption that Faris coasted through to the top isn't fair, nor is her argument that people from the elite class need to stop rapping. Music, much like art, should be free of biases and that means letting anyone who is talented share their music with people. There is no denying that privilege plays a part in some artists' lives but that shouldn't mean they and their work are discounted.