Type the word ‘chinkey’ on Google, and the first definition you will find is that it’s an “offensive, racist slang” which in the Indian-context is often denoted to the people of Northeast India because of their mongoloid looks. And, tackling this ever pertinent issue of racism Rapper Samir Rishu Mohanty aka Big Deal has released a new single on Friday titled I’m a Chinkey I’m a Chinkey’ featuring artist G’nie.
This track is the second single by Rapper Big Deal from his upcoming debut album. The term ‘Chinkey’ or ‘Chinky’ is the infamous derogatory term faced by Asians. The song, however, flips the term on its head by owning the term with a music video showcasing men and women from the eight Northeastern States facing prejudice in everyday situations.
“It all starts with the right motive. My songs come from a very real place and that’s why people feel a way about them. They may love it or hate it but they always feel a certain way about it. So, having done things in a certain manner with my previous releases, the people already know about my intention behind this song. Then it becomes the question of how well I have written it and articulated my thoughts for everyone to feel that I am doing this to empower and not demean,” said the rapper.
Big Deal himself is a victim of the name-calling ‘Chinkey’ and so much so that it “becomes a part of who you are in the long run.” Influenced by hip hop and the way the African Americans flipped the whole meaning of the N-word and used it in a way to empower themselves, the rapper also wanted to do the same with this word. “To do that, I had to write a song powerful enough to drive the message home,” he added.
Quoting a line by Tupac Shakur which stated, “I’m not saying I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world,” Big Deal is of the view that that ‘Chinkey’ can also be turned to a positive one. He added, “I make my songs based on my experiences, but also for the people, and if the people as a whole embrace the word in a positive manner and use it in an empowering way, then my purpose is served.”
Alongside the social awareness of the song, the track in itself is a heart-thumping blend of desi rap with a lyrical nuance that beautifully puts the message across. The track features one of the most talented and popular rappers from Northeast as well, Mizoram-born Zonunmawia Fanai aka Rapper ‘G’nie’ spitting bars that reflect about identity and empowerment.
“I paid very close attention to the smallest details of “I’m a Chinkey” because it’s so close to my heart. I made at least five beats for it before settling on one. I wrote and rewrote the lyrics till they were perfect. The video part was complicated because of the pandemic, finding the perfect characters, locations, rehearsals, etc were affected because of it. G’nie couldn’t travel to the shoot so he had to shoot his parts in Aizawl. But, by God’s grace, I had an amazing team led by Gautam & Sagar, and I couldn’t have asked for anyone better to do the video. Also, my record label Most Wanted Records, was extremely supportive throughout the whole process and believed in a song like this where most others would back out,” said the rapper.
By declaring himself as ‘A Chinkey’, the song seems to be a unifying cry that we are all Indian, human beings with the same flesh and bone just like everyone in the world. By calling himself ‘Chinkey’ the rapper seeks to create a change in people’s perspective by re-claiming the word and denouncing generational racism. When asked about a way out to end the discrimination based on looks he is said, “I think empathy to start with and just knowing that we’re all the same deep down. We’re all humans, we’re all equal regardless of how we look, dress, act, talk, eat, etc. And I mean empathy from both sides because we can’t clap with one hand.”
Previously on April 15, the rapper released a song entitled Why call me corona? which also raised eyebrows of many for it highlighted the rising incidents of racism towards people from Northeast India, especially outside the region, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The video which has over one lakh views even got selected for six Film Festivals and won the Tagore International film festival. “I’m hoping that this song does what it is destined to do, not in terms of numbers or accolades but the message reaching out,” he added.
This song is the second release from his upcoming album and gives a taste of what is to follow. When asked when the album will be released, he said, “This is my debut album and it’s semi-autobiographical in nature. This isn’t just a bunch of songs put together, it’s a journey, it’s cohesive and has a storyline. It is I, Samir Rishu Mohanty, in the flesh taking you through the extraordinary journey that’s been my life so far. I think I have an amazing story and the world should hear it in about a month and a half.”
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