Delhi-Based Rapper Kinari Is Questioning Hip-Hop’s Hetero Gaze With Her Debut Album Kattar Kinnar

Verocious raps over renowned Ballroom tracks and the taal of mujras (genres with queer history) – Kinari’s music is very intentionally made for queer pleasure. In Kattar Kinnar, her catty humour and raunchy take on heteronormative culture enables a queer gaze to exist. Kinari’s quintessential puRRR is a death drop.

Kinari asserts her existence with rap, consciously carving out an alternative. “We didn’t want to wait for an opportunity to arrive, so we made our own space.” From cutting a deal with venues to managing the logistics and curation, Kinari and her manager Mithran created Meetha World, a rap gig series from scratch. One imagines a hip-hop performance to be a club full of sweaty boys in oversized t-shirts and shorts dancing to rapping on stage; at Meetha World, women and queer people find relief from music entrenched with overbearing masculinity.

Owning Her Space

When asked what kind of anti-caste and queer affirmative spaces they envision, Mithran promptly pointed out the hypocrisy in expecting artists to bear the burden of change. “Why aren’t we asking this question to our society?” Tired of being reduced to the skeletons of her identity, Kinari is an artist not despite her lived experience but because music is an intrinsic part of her.

“I’m not taking any more risks than other artists in India,” the part-time teacher pointed out.” The industry doesn’t have a support system in place for anyone.” Artists in India remain independent because of the current structure of the music industry, and according to Kinari, labels can provide some support by investing and providing a network, but Indian labels barely sign women or queer acts.

Her Debut Project

Current streaming rates do not provide enough remuneration from royalties for artists to support themselves by simply making music. To make a living from their art, they rely on bookings from gigs and festivals but even those spaces are male-dominated. Kinari is aware of the industry’s disposition, and the limitations have only inspired her to produce her own music as her alter ego nasbandi, to become more self-sufficient.

From her mixtape Queerbops to her debut album Kattar Kinnar, which was released this year on April 7, Kinari has used queer influences and pop culture seamlessly with bilingual lyrics. You can smell the burning diesel and hear the wedding bands at Khirkee Extension in the summer heat when she raps about growing consumerism in desi hip-hop in the track Baahar.

Reinventing Her Sound


An underlying ‘Rekhaesque’ runs through Kattar Kinnar, which reflects not only on Kinari’s Tamizh heritage but also brings forth female redemption with satire. The Mari Selvaraj’s references, Ha Dance samples (an iconic ballroom track) and interludes of vampy dialogues are a refusal to let trans experiences suffice in the fringes. “With every project, I’m trying to redefine and reinvent my sound.” Her music has an unhinged power in any space it inhabits, it snatches back that part of you which subconsciously belongs to the hetero gaze. It would be a crime to reduce Kinari to only her experiences as a transwoman, her music sets a precedent for not only how we perceive rap but also ourselves.

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