Meet Humaira Jan, a 13-year-old Kashmiri rapper who wants to change the way the world sees women

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Badlega lihaz bhi, Badlega itihaas bhi, Badlega samaj bhi…

Thirteen years old Humira Jana student of the IX. Class at the Army Goodwill School in Thune Kangan in Central Kashmir Ganderbal District, is a rapper passionate about the status of women in society and what could be done to make our lives better and more meaningful.

Kashmiri rapper Humaira Jan

That’s also the hook of her first rap song, aura, this speaks of a time – when mindsets will change, as will attitudes, society and how women will ultimately make history with their choices.

Wise beyond their years, Humaira recounts Your history, “My passion for rap comes from wanting to change things. I’m not doing this for fame or to become a sensation. I rap about issues that are important to me, and female empowerment plays a big part in what I want to communicate.”

But fame has sought Humaira ever since she decided to get off the beaten path and rap her feelings, frustrations and hope for a better world.

When Humaira was in Class II in 2015, she was introduced to YoYo Honey Singh’s rap album Desi Kalakaar from her father and she loved it.

“I started following hip hop artists and singing their songs. I didn’t take it that seriously at first, just sang along without thinking too much about it,” she says.

Her life changed after she took part in a rap battle in Ganderbal County in August last year. She heard about it from her teachers and the principal at school, who were now used to Humaira rapping before the start of every event. At home, her parents supported her and encouraged her to do whatever she wanted.

When she showed up for the event, she was the only girl among 15 male performers, including some professional rappers.

“The first reaction from others was how can a young girl rap. They laughed and made fun of me,” she says.

The joke, however, lay with her naysayers as she performed top rapper RCRs mummy and came first in the rap battle.

Rapping about social issues

This prompted Humaira to take hip-hop seriously. She first had to work on her own lyrics and what she wanted to convey to her audience.

“I took a month off after the rap battle and then started writing aura, an ode to woman empowerment. The song exhorts society not to discriminate based on gender, and women can do anything if they choose,” she says.

It was also prompted by an acid attack on a woman in Srinagar, reliving the disturbing circumstances in which young women live in the valley.

“You keep hearing that a woman should do this, not do that, sit at home, she has so many plans in life and stays calm despite the fact that she can do so much. Why not give her opportunities and allow her to make her own choices,” she asks.

aura received its fair share of criticism and trolling. Even friends and a few relatives felt it was wrong for a girl her age to rap so openly on social media, worse.

But Humaira carries on undeterred, with the help of her parents and sisters, who motivate her to speak out on various issues.

“Women’s empowerment will always be a part of my songs. I also want to talk about rampant drug use among boys and girls and conservation,” she says.

Humaira’s story has been featured on multiple television channels and is also the subject of a recently released short film that takes viewers through her life as a rapper growing up in the Valley.

Interestingly, many years ago, Humaira doubled for Shahida, one of the main characters in Salman Khan’s Bajrangi Bhaijaan. But she has chosen not to follow the acting route.

“I wanted to be an actor but didn’t get enough opportunities in my area. Thankfully, rap has become my life now,” she says.

Her favorite hip hop artists include MC Bella from India and XXXTENTACION from Hollywood.

She wants to keep rapping and collaborating with other artists in India, especially Raftaar, who she admires a lot. “It’s my dream and I hope someone can introduce me to them,” she says.

Humaira understands that the road ahead will not be easy. But she is determined to take on challenges when they come. This is also her advice to young girls like her who want to follow their dreams.

“There will be a lot of people pulling you down. Don’t let her words sway you or you’ll feel miserable and disappointed. I’m not an idol or a sensation, I’ve had my fair share of trolls and negative comments. I just look at the positives and move on. Life only happens once, I have no time for regrets,” says Humaira.

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