Mehak Ashraf: Kashmir’s First Female Rapper

In a valley torn by turmoil for over three decades, Mehak Ashraf, from Indian-held Kashmir, uses her talent and flow to rap about the plight of Kashmiri's.

Mehak Ashraf, professionally known as, Menime is from Srinagar, Indian-held Kashmir, is the first female rapper from the region. Inspired by legends Eminem, Drake and Nicki Minaj, Mehak uses her flow and talent to rap about the turmoil of Kashmiri’s in an attempt to record the plight of her community for future generations and to also use her art as an effective form of peaceful resistance- transcending boundaries creating impact.

Although Mehak Ashraf has just kicked off her career, she has regardless, at 19, perfectly articulated the alienation and isolation Kashmiri’s feel from the rest of the world. She raps:

Mehmood-ul-Hassan whose two sons were killed
On spot, it is full of oppression
Cries mother, father and sister, they are living in oppression
Their loved ones are no more, now they are living in depression
In Kashmir, it is a policy of alienation and deprivation

She has become a voice for the next generation of Kashmiri’s. Her raps deliver the anguish and despair that the next generation feels about the violence in their region.

I’m from Kashmir, they take us for funI saw a big killer with a gun
Saw my friends body in a slum
I miss him, I need him, I love him, I’m sorry, I miss Tasleem
Glad his death wasn’t glorified on film
My valley smells like death alley
Death angel aiming at another individual
Darkness mess up any individual’s visual

In a male-dominated industry, Mehak Ashraf has emerged as the territory’s first female rapper. Other rappers include MC Kash, Ahmer Javed and Muazzam Bhat who have garnered a following over the years. Although it hasn’t been easy to make a mark, Mehak’s drive has kept her going. She makes her own videos in a very creative way.

Mehak Ashraf is currently pursuing her Bachelors in Arts from Srinagar’s Women’s College. Her journey to the rap world began in 2016 when the valley ensued in political unrest over the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Burhan Wani.

“I was in Class IX at that time. Due to the situation, the schools had been shut for six months. It was during those endless days of curfew and strike, I happened to come across the songs of Eminem.”

“Eminem had a troubled childhood and failed multiple times during his school. His story really moved me. Besides, he never talks about sex, drugs or girls in rap. His music reflects the societal problems and struggles of the masses. This motivated me to sing and write rap songs,” Mehak Ashraf stated.

Despite facing endless critcism from her family and society, she has remained unfazed and says, “I take criticism, good or bad, head-on and make myself better with time.”

“Yes, I have faced a lot of criticism, especially from men and religious quarters who consider rap and music to be an ignoble pursuit for a Muslim girl. Others compared me to Dhinchak Pooja, and suggested I am rapping just to earn attention.”

Her parents even thought it was “inappropriate for a girl to shout and sing like this.” However, now her parents have recognised her drive and art, hence support her in her endeavours now.

Apart from rap, Mehak is also an avid nature and animal lover. She inteds on  composing some raps on climate change and animal abuse in the future.

“The environment is always the least prioritised issue in a conflict zone. Besides, I am also interested in rescuing animals.”

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