It may sound far-fetched when 23-year-old Athar Iqbal,a resident of Natipura in Srinagar,who hails from an orthodox Islamic family,says,I was the first DJ in Kashmir. But true it is,even though it took him seven long years to establish himself as a DJ in the Valley an untrained one at that. Now,with possible collaborations with prominent Indian DJs such as DJ Suketu and DJ Aqeel and international ones such as DJ Jazzie Jaz waiting in the wings,Iqbal aka DJ Aki oozes with the confidence of a veteran. Next week,he is organising his biggest feat so far,Kashmirs first rap competition called Rappers Battle on June 26 in Srinagar.
The upcoming event is a result of his longing to take emerging local rap artistes out in the public domain. Till now,the open-air competition has more than 35 aspiring professional local rappers who have registered to participate,most of them from college. Through Rappers Battle,I also wanted to draw attention to DJing,a genre not many Kashmiris are familiar with,owing to a lack of resources and equipments, says Iqbal,who will open the event with Bollywood commercials,hits of David Guetta and psychedelic trance.
The competition has been self-funded by Iqbal and his six associates. They have roped in Queensland-based DJ Jazzie Jaz as one of the judges,who is not charging anything for the event. We would love to have people from all over India at the event but our pockets have been wrung too dry for that. Nevertheless,we would love to hear from them, says Iqbal,adding that in future,he plans to turn it into a national and international-level event,to include prominent DJs and rappers.
However,theres a strict code of conduct. Weve told the chosen DJs not to use any political references. We are not in favour of having young rappers who do this for cheap thrills,since that might result in some violence. If they do,their participation will be terminated, says Iqbal.