‘Anti-Indian’ Coming to Silicon Valley: UC Santa Cruz to Host Tamil Playback Singer and Rapper Arivu

  • Best known for his contributions in the global hit single “Enjoy Enjaami,” and the song “Vaathi Raid” from “Master,” his hard-hitting political raps have made him one of the most powerful youth voices coming out of India.

The Center for South Asian Studies at UC Santa Cruz will be hosting next month rapper, lyricist, and playback singer Arivarasu Kalainesan, more commonly known as Arivu. The Oct. 7 event will feature the singer, who works in Tamil films, and is best known for his contributions to the global hit single “Enjoy Enjaami, and the song “Vaathi Raid” from the Tamil film “Master.” His hard-hitting political raps have made him one of the most powerful youth voices coming out of India.

The Center for South Asian Studies describes Arivu as “a soulful composer, versatile songwriter, fierce rapper, and an energetic performer all fused into one package.”  Through his “rebellious singles” such as “Anti-Indian,” Kalla Mouni” and “Sanda Seivom,” Arivu came to be known as “a prodigal talent with the guts to speak truth to power,” the center says. His first hip-hop album, “Therukural” (Voice of Street, 2019), with music producer Ofro, received widespread appreciation from the audience and rave reviews from critics.

For his March 2021 hit single “Enjoy Enjaami,” he teamed up with Dhee and Santhosh Narayanan as music producer under the label Maajja, an independent platform launched by Indian producer A. R. Rahman. The song and its music video received viral response and has crossed 400 million views on YouTube as of April 2022, according to Wikipedia. 

The young artist leads the Ambassa band, an experiment in bringing together the Western elements of hip-hop, beatboxing and rock with our native sounds of Folk, Gana and Oppari. The band’s mission is to piece together the scattered elements of divided humanity and make it whole again through the celebrative as well as cathartic powers of music.  Currently, Arivu is crafting his second studio album, Valliyamma Perandi which is scheduled to be out soon.

“Brought up in Arakkonam, near Chennai, Arivu was exposed to folk songs as he grew up in a family without TV and radio, as his parents wanted him to concentrate on school,” his Wikipedia page says. “He started to write poems about caste and poverty in his high school days and became more politically conscious during his college,” the page adds. 

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He met director Pa. Ranjith while pursuing his MBA in college, and was signed to be part of “Kaala “ (2018). He later auditioned and landed a role in Ranjith’s band The Casteless Collective.

UCSC’s Center for South Asian Studies promotes and supports the study of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, the Maldives, and the broader Indian Ocean worlds. Our focus is economic and social justice. Five core themes that are key to the center’s vision include caste, gender, and sexuality; development, growth, and entrepreneurship; technology; culture, creativity, and innovation; and environment and sustainability.

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