Apache raises flap with rap
British rap singer Apache Indian is taking India by storm, stirring up controversy in both countries with songs that challenge white racial prejudice, caste and arranged marriages.
"Sometimes the truth hurts", says Apache Indian. Apache — christened Steven Kapur by Indian parents who migrated to Britain about 30 years ago from Punjab — launched a tour of India on June 5. He was besieged by young fans and received big coverage in local newspapers.
The slim, bearded pop star has been embroiled in the same controversies back in Britain, where he has become a hit among young Asians and the most visible of a new generation of Asian singers.
Indian authorities recoiled when they heard him rap on Khalistan, the name Sikh separatists use to describe an independent Punjab. It was censored from cassettes produced in India before his visit.
"I mentioned once that the Sikhs are fighting for Khalistan — which is the truth. I always talk about things that are happening around me and that people are talking about", Apache said in a recent interview.
In December, he commented on the violent fallout in Britain from communal bloodshed which shook India after militant Hindus demolished a mosque. He rapped: "Some people are angry, yes me understand. Because war and crime and recession. But you have to think of the situation. Don't use the Indian crisis as a reason."
Apache grew up in Birmingham and worked as a welder for five years before his first recording in 1990.
In India, a new recording is set to tackle the caste system. His rap goes: "Who are you to say you is better, because of your race, your creed or your colour?
"Who are you that you still pray to God, but you
still believe in the caste that you have?"
Apache says he is criticised by conservative members of the Indian community in Britain. They claim he trivialises and publicises problems that should be kept within the community.
They reserve their most trenchant criticism for his most popular number, "Arranged Marriage", which rose to 16 in the British pop charts.
"Some people want to keep the problems to themselves. Indians in Britain are very contained within themselves", he says. "But they need to be addressed".