Shivani Ahlowalia doesn’t rap, she exhorts. “The difference between being able to sing, and having a voice: perspective,” she claimed in an interview with Vice last fall. Thus is our voice nothing but a superficial instrument until we actually have something meaningful to tell. But, as we all know, the riveting stories don’t arise out of nothing.
At the same time as American-born Ahlowalia was working with musical talents in the impoverished Guinea-Bisseau at the end of the 2000s, tremendous political unrest and several assassinations unfolded in the West African state. Because of this, she witnessed how hip-hop retrieved the political sting it had in her homeland some twenty years earlier, with groups like Public Enemy. A few years later, at the time living in Pondicherry, India, she saw how people were surprisingly optimistic after having their homes crushed by a tropical cyclone. It was no longer possible for her to remain silent. Shortly after Ahlowalia got in touch with friends and producers Copla Doble Systema from Denmark, and presto: Alo Wala (“light vendor” in Hindi) was a fiery fact.
There are in particular two other rappers that come to mind when dancing uncontrollably to Alo Wala’s borderless club pop: Tamil M.I.A. and Dane Natasja. Just like them, Ahlowalia & co. display the same disrespect for both genre rules and authorities; blended together, dancehall, raga, juke and trap ends up being one of the better weapons in the endless fight against all the bastards that daily tries to bring the world to it’s knees.
Double billing with Batida.
ID: 20 years
Text: Kim Klev