We make It Happen: Vaishnavi Radhakrishnan on being a female rapper

I first listened to ‘Smack that’ by Akon back in 2006 and went on to listen to it a gazillion times. It contained a rap verse by legendary artist Eminem that caught my attention as I followed it with ease. So I thought to myself why not try a hand at rapping? My rapping skills developed so quickly that I started performing for my friends. They generously showered praise on me, giving me the right kick start and motivation to follow my passion.

That was when I started cracking up rhymes on my own and trying out various other facets of hip hop music. When I went to do my higher studies in Bangalore, it obviously came as a surprise to a lot of people in the university to find a female rapper who had come all the way from Kerala. (I can’t blame them. I hear the odds of that happening are very slim.) Every time I got on the stage to perform, I saw puzzled but appreciative looks on the faces in the audience. Rapping is not about wearing cool clothes and looking swag it’s about conveying a message through the right words with the right attitude and with power-packed punch lines.

A lot of people don’t really give female rappers their due credit. You know, it’s always, “You’re great—for a female rapper.” This leaves me with a sense of longing to be more and to be better but never really being able to get there. Sometimes my pursuit in rap music, unconventional as it is, appears to be less than what my friends in India and abroad are doing. They seem to have this sense of ease and freedom which is a little out of reach me now. I just sit here thinking, “What rhymes with bat? Rat! There we go.” It’s true that the grass is always greener on the other side.

After all these years, there is one thing that I take both solace and pride in – I have managed to give a platform for a lot of upcoming female rappers who also want to go big. Friends and juniors in college now come up to me asking me for advice on how to be a rapper. At 22 years, I have had the good fortune to perform at several events both inside and outside my college, record tracks for a couple of movies and do a few other music projects – bolster my skills, break that conventionality and encourage other women to explore the unexplored.

I believe it’s all in you, no matter the gender. When I first picked up rap, it was seen as odd but I stuck to my guns till people around me saw that there was something worth appreciating – that it was about the music, the words and the impact, and not the gender of the person. Don’t stereotype yourself. Don’t reign in unexplored talent. When you know what you want to do all you have to do is set right out for it and at least give it one try. Opportunities are many but grabbing one is the tough part. I’ve also learnt that sometimes it’s more about creating opportunities for yourself rather than grabbing one. When you become confident about yourself, you learn to draw and align your own stars than wait for the silver lining.

Vaishnavi Radhakrishnan (Final year MBA student in Christ College, Bangalore)

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