It was a whirlwind tour for Tamil rap-musician Arivu, who visited the Bay Area during his first tour of the USA earlier this year.
In an event hosted by the Center for South Asia on Aug. 11, 2022, Arivu spoke at Stanford University on “Cultures & Vultures,” a lecture moderated by Stanford Professors Usha Iyer and Sharika Thiranagama. He also performed and participated in a Q&A meet and greet session at the Cupertino Odd Fellows Lodge for the Ambedkar King Study Circle USA, on Aug. 12, 2022.
The Beauty of Tamil
Arivu told the Stanford audience how the Tamilian oppari, a rhythmic lament eulogizing death, was featured in the hit song Enjoy Enjaami, and came “from the lineage of all traditions that have survived hundreds of generations.”
“The reason for my recognition as an artist is because of the beauty of my mother tongue Tamil.”
Arivu also spoke of the struggle for equality and how Tamil literature mentioned that all things were equal and that “everyone was equal by birth.”
The Loss of Culture
“As Nina Simone said, I believe it’s an artist’s duty to reflect the time in which we live. That’s why most of my artistic efforts focus on reflecting the socio political paradoxes we live in one of the deepest paradox that affects millions of my brothers and sisters is caste, but the story of ancestors does not carry the scourge of caste.”
“We have lost the essence of our culture,” said Arivu. “The culture has become a commodity nowadays.”
Inspired by his visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., Arivu told the Stanford University audience, “I feel like our culture, our pain, our struggle, needs to be needs to be preserved like that understory should be passed to the next generations through many more songs to come.”
Preserving culture is not only in the hands of artists said Arivu, but also in the hands of all the people who are part of society.