Music holds the power to fuel a revolution. In the stories it holds and the stories that are yet to unfold, there is a conspicuous spark that music carries forward as a legacy of its creator and as an aid to its consumer. In this aspect, India’s grassroots hip-hop movement owes a lot to its forerunners who ushered in a revolution to amplify voices that skirt all regularities.
Born out of this hunger to magnify India’s turbulent political landscape was a tiny music collective that went on to gain prominence and admiration from creative and local communities across the country. Swadesi movement is the brainchild of a Mumbai-based multi-lingual crew that offers riveting political commentary while staying true to producing refreshing sounds at the core of their vision.
At the heart of this crew was a powerful voice waiting to alleviate the unheard sufferings of his community through hip-hop; MC Tod Fod a.k.a Dharmesh Parmar was indeed, a force to be reckoned with. A provocative and unapologetic voice of the masses, Tod Fod carried in his music, the power of his people and the beloved artist who performed last on the 19th of March in Mumbai’s Swadesi DIY Mela, breathed his last on 20th of March at age 24.
As a harbinger of change and fresh perspectives, we look back at a life lived in power.
The Spark That Ignited A Fire
Back in 2019 when Mumbai’s Aarey Forest row occupied mainstream news and media, MC Tod Fod along with the rest of the crew at Swadesi knew what they had to do. Having developed a significant portion of their storytelling sensibilities from the local adivasis and the landscape of the region, the crew realised that time had come for them to stand up to the community that nurtured their music and their growth. In a defiant yet powerful track that emerged from this process was Warli Revolt, a track that positioned Swadesi in India’s emerging creative community for dissent and revolt.
MC Tod Fod’s fierce verses in the track not only highlights the plight of the local inhabitants of Aarey but digs deeper into the history of Mumbai’s making, relentlessly challenging authorities and the pro-urbanisation officials.
Thus began MC Tod Fod’s journey of potent narratives that challenged socio-political structures that make up our country.
In a candid interview with Redbull back in 2018, we get an insider’s perspective into Dharmesh Parmar and the pride that he shared for the people of his community. Over the course of this interview, he takes you on a guided tour through his neighbourhood and the struggles of his life and his people unravels in a number of bittersweet ways. Through several limited recorded interviews, Parmar is often found speaking about the importance of delivering the truth and this indeed made up a significant part of his larger-than-life onstage persona.
A short-lived yet starkly illustrious and empowering career, MC Tod Fod, true to his name, broke the shackles that defined his life in the same way he broke several other barriers presented to him by society and life at large. As a multi-lingual rapper whose verses switched between Marathi and Gujarati, he spoke to the people of both communities that were at the core of his audience.
Alongside his multilingual prowess, Tod Fod produced genre-bending work that also scaled his range as a performer and artist. In taking forward India’s grassroots hip-hop movement and realising a purpose to narrate norm defying stories, MC Tod Fod’s name is sure to be etched in India’s illustrious history of artists that continue to inspire us to seek justice and truth despite insurmountable odds.
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