India's First Transgender Rappers Sing About Unemployment

'Hatt Saala' is India's first rap song sung by transgender women from Odisha's Balangir

‘Hatt Saala’ is India’s first rap song sung by transgender women from Odisha’s Balangir. Directed by documentary filmmaker Shankhajeet De, the song is a dialogue between transwomen Madhu, Sarita and Nandini and Rapper RcR from Mumbai, about the frustration of being jobless.

It fuses traditional Sambalpuri music of Odisha with Hindi rap and rejects government schemes & politicians who promise job opportunities during elections. It is inspired by the singing style of Odisha’s transgender community (“Ranga”) which is often a commentary on social ills.

De, who conceptualised the video, told Live Wire,

“There is a misconception that youth is lazy and directionless but I refuse to believe so. They have degrees, skills and all the passion, but the job opportunities are not conducive to their educational qualifications. It is the system that is to be blamed, not the youth.”

According to De, the video is also an effort to give voice to the transgender community.

“They [transgender community] are quite outspoken and usually react in an inimitable musical way when they are either looked down upon or see someone else being ill-treated. A spec of irritation can trigger a spate of critique in their sing-song way. Thus I consider them to be the local rappers of Titilagarh town.”