TODAY -

Catapults, Molotov Cocktails and Music!
(Tapta in comparison and contrast - III)

Ningombam Captain *

 Catapults, Molotov Cocktails and Music!



Tools used in extreme forms of political protests are not limited to stones or slingshots or molotov cocktails only; some use music - not the soft and easy-listening ones of course, but those with heavy riffs and profane lyrics. This is the attribute that we can use to draw a Venn of similarity between Tapta and the American rap metal band, Rage Against the Machine (or RATM).

Tapta's single "Action to Muction" is characteristically similar to RATM's signature "Killing in the Name". There are many more songs by Tapta that can be compared to this RATM's controversial song. But keeping the lyrics and heaviness of the riff as measures, "Action to Muction" has the closest congruence.

When I was a child, I heard many protestors, comprised of my local elder brothers and grandmothers, in the streets of Imphal shouting rhythmically, as if it was a song of some kind, the sentence "Manipur gi saktam - kaiba yaroi".

I even sang it at home with my friends while playing marbles. I never thought it was a deep cry of the frustrated masses. Over the course of my life, I've heard many more sentences as such, like "Manipur da ILP - chatnahallu".

My childhood psyche has conditioned me to assume these rhythmic shouting as music. Hence, I developed this personal terminology of mine to brand the songs sung like the above sentences having similar political significations, as "protest rock".

To me, protest rock is a music genre characterized by the rapping of repetitive lines about rebellion, or simply a rhythmic shouting of the protest lines, as opposed to normal singing.

Tapta incorporated this style (unbeknownst to him, actually) in his songs like "Bandh", "Kwak Kwak" and his aforementioned single. Zach de la Rocha, vocalist of RATM, sings his repetitive lines by gradually building up a crescendo, thus ending a verse by screaming the line. In this manner, he delivers the following pre-chorus building up the tension and intensity of the song:

Now you do what they told ya
Now you do what they told ya
Now you do what they told ya
Now you do what they told ya
And now you do what they told ya
(Now you're under control)
And now you do what they told ya


Correspondingly, Tapta sings the following part of the chorus in a similar manner. However, his delivery is in the form of a fast-paced rap, so compact that it can be considered as a single protest motif, hence repeating a couple of times throughout the song:

Loinamak yeknabagum khalljatni moidi ‘khoida,
Chennariba mayam ado tannadana hattoklaga,
Mayumdaka leibasingdo chingthoktuna kapthatlaga,
Gallantry award kadu fangningliba malleh moi,
Yengbipot natte!!


"Action to Muction" is an electronic (protest) rock song featuring strong overdrive guitars and fast synthesizer cues. The lyrical structure of the song is devoid of a particular pattern in the verses, unlike the significant pre-chorus and chorus. The guitar fillers really adds to the overall intensity of the song.

"Killing in the Name" is built on a heavier riff and Tom Morello's guitar solo is deemed unusual, yet innovative. His unique playing style is the soul of their non-conformist identity. The funky drums getting along with Zach's exasperated vocals, ignites the element of notoriety. Both of the songs rely on profanity in the lyrics so as to add more rebellious depth.

"Killing in the Name" and "Action to Muction" are both protest songs of police brutality. The former song is a response to the brutal beating of Rodney King by the L.A. police, and the resultant L.A. Riots, which happened in 1991. Zach compared the policemen to the Ku Klux Klan due to their involvement in the racial tensions.

The latter song is Tapta's take against the extreme police brutality towards the protestors rallying for the enactment of the Inner Line Permit System which will safeguard the indigenous people of the state. Even though the two songs are written against the "khaki" or the work force with badges i.e. the police force, the two artists' stance of rebellion differs prominently.

RATM is known for writing songs that voiced strong criticism of the domestic and foreign policies of the U.S. government. However, their intentions are entirely against authority, and thus, relates to anarchy.

But Tapta aims for reformation and justice, through the ridicule of social flaws. He wants the police force (addressing them as "khaki") to join the masses and rebel against the authority, for the future good; still Tapta wants a farsighted authority that acts for the indigenous people.

He doesn't choose anarchy, but non-violent protests like rallies. This is where the thin red line of difference will be drawn between Tapta with his centre-leftist stance and the far-leftist RATM. Still, their main similarity remains - instead of using molotov cocktails and catapults, they used something far more powerful. Music!


* Ningombam Captain wrote this article for e-pao.net
Ningombam Captain is the creator of Blue Bannerman Reviews. The writer is currently pursuing English Hons. in MS University and can be contacted at ningombamcaptain(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on March 17, 2019.



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