Music empowered me, and I knew this is where I belonged
Her personal beliefs are as strong as her stage name. Hard Kaur blends Punjabi lyrics with Hip Hop and is hailed as the Queen of Indian Hip Hop. The ‘ Ek Galassy’ girl talks about her journey so far.
Q. How did Taran become Hard Caur?
A. Well, I was an innocent girl from India ( Kanpur, UP) who moved to Birmingham, the United Kingdom after I lost my father in the 1984 anti- Sikh riots. I was a naïve little Indian girl who knew very little English, wasn’t too confident and couldn’t relate with most children at school. I was a tom boy and didn’t pay too much attention to how I looked and I faced a lot of discrimination so racism. So, it wasn’t an easy transition, but I then found music, particularly rap, that made me rediscover myself and vent out my frustration. Q. What got you interested in rap? A. Over there, people had their prejudices about Indians, also that our girls could only do bhangra or sing Punjabi pop songs, because that’s what they would do during school performances. I wanted a break away from this stereotype, and do something different. By this time I had started hanging out with a lot of Black girls
who I got connected with due to their music and dance. Rap and Hip hop were something I began to enjoy. I was introduced to reggae in 1993 and thoroughly enjoyed it. That was how and where it all started. I would sing with these girls, and it felt great. The music empowered me, and I knew this is where I belonged. Q. What challenges did you face in your initial years as a rapper?
A. Oh, a lot! From hearing things like, you have a “husky voice”, you’re an Indian girl, they don’t rap, and so much more. I wanted to fight for every Indian, every woman and show that even we could do this equally well. My biggest inspiration was Queen Latifa and initially when we started singing we would rap to others music. The Indians couldn’t get what I was doing and often pass remarks like nachan wali aagai and this isn’t good. But, I didn’t care. I hated that mentality and wanted a breakthrough. I told my mother I wasn’t scared of any one and wanted to rap. Then I started working even harder. Started writing what I felt, worked on my diction, that needs to be really good to rap and the flow needs to be there. Some songs even made my mother cry and that’s when I knew I was good at this.
I started performing at open mics, competing with men and we would go on without a break. I got so many compliments and one was that you’re too good for an Indian woman. That was when I decided I wanted to be an India female rapper. Q. What made you infuse Punjabi lyrics and beats to rap?
A. While I enjoyed my music and began performing globally at gigs with Justin Timberlake and all these big names, people from my community felt a disconnect. Half of them were proud of what I did, while the others didn’t know what I was doing. However, my only agenda was to make my mom proud as she always supported me. Even here she ran a small salon, supported my studies and did all she could to make me independent. It was my time to give back. She too wanted me to shut these people up, and that was when I decided to sing ‘ Ek Glassy’’ in 2007. I had completely transformed for this song, I wore a short skirt, sang on alcohol, shook that booty, and people actually enjoyed it! I was amazed by the number of calls I got, and so many people calling from India that my music was doing well. I thought to myself, when I do the right thing no one likes it, but when I do this, they all take pride in it! Q. What do you have to say about Punjabi music globally? A. I don’t understand where the independent artists have disappeared these days. I am disappointed to say that I get to hear a lot of crap from Punjabi rappers. They’re all trying to copy Honey, but land up making a fool of themselves. That ways I want to compliment Honey Singh for what he’s doing. His music has gone viral globally, and it because of his diction, flow and of course hard work. Q. How did you reach Bollywood? A. I came to India for a performance in 2006, and that was when Shankar Mahadevan and VishalShekhar got in touch with me and asked me to meet them the next time I visited. They complimented me for my music. The rest is history. You’ve all heard those songs and danced to them.
at ‘ Bollywood 100 in Birmingham’ festival 2013 for her special contribution