Arivu and Rolling Stone: Indian Controversy

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Both Rolling Stone India and Maajja face backlash and have come under criticism for sidelining Tamil rapper Arivu for not featuring him on a recent magazine cover despite his contribution to the songs.

Twitter folks weren’t happy when the original tweet by Rolling Stone India mentions. The triumphant South Asian artists are at the front of erasing border lines with songs like “Enjoy Enjaami and “Neeye Oli” respectively” with Dhee and Shan on the cover.

In March, the 27-year-old lyricist singer and Arivarasu Kalainesan, a.k.a Arivu, joined hands with Dhee premiered ‘Enjoy Enjaami’. The song from the music label Maajja became a sensational hit, with over 326 million views on Youtube and received international recognition.   

Arivu is known for his anti-caste lyrics around equality are recognised for ushering in vast awareness through solid social messages. The song ‘Enjoy Enjaami’ is based on the story of Arivu’s grandmother Valliammal, that talk’s about the oppression of a Tamil community that became the essence of the crazy viral song. He also co-wrote ‘Neeyae Oli’ with the Canadian Tamil Rapper Shan Vincent de Paul for Pa. Ranjith’s ‘Sarpatta Parambarai’. 

When French music producer DJ Snake joined Maajja for a remix in June, Arivu was relegated to a secondary role and reduced to a footnote in the billboard advertising the collab on iconic Times Square. It created a backlash in social media for the erasure of Arivu in his song.  

A fresh round of criticism began when Rolling Stone India did a big cover story that focused on two Indie artists. Dhee and Shan Vincent de Paul, the lead artists on Maajja’s two biggest hits, ‘Enjoy Enjaami’ and ‘Neeye Oli’. And the cover read: “How the international Tamil artists are blurring local and music boundaries via record label and platform maajja.”  

The cover story only has one quote from Arivu, the netizens, including prominent personalities like Tamil film director Pa Ranjith, strongly condemned Rolling Stone India and Maajja for failing to credit the lyricist.  

Addressing the concern, Shan Vincent de Paul justified it was about his and Dhee’s upcoming debut albums with Maajja. He also responded to Pa Ranjith’s tweet via a small note on social media.

Rolling stone tried to compensate by sending gushing tweets and posts spotlighting Arivu. Rolling Stone rolled out alternative covers of their August 2021 issue, including one with Arivu to mitigate the outrage.

The music platform co-founded by A.R Rahman, also responded that the cover story is about the label’s journey and mission. It also mentioned the cover featured the two talents for their albums that is releasing soon.

The band-aid by Maajja and Rolling Stone was not convincing. Many have called out this as an ‘appropriation of the struggles and triumphs of DBA community by Upper Caste artists’. The two acts of erasure, even if unintentional, seem like taking back the little that was given.  

Lakshmi Sundari
Lakshmi Sundari
Student of life. Passionate about women’s empowerment, mental health, and other social issues.

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