December 14, 2019
A rap song by dissident Iranian rapper Hichkas (Nobody) released on the Internet on December 10 in commemoration of November protests in Iran has become so popular that lines from its lyrics are now widely quoted by social media users.
In three days more than 200,000 Iranians have listened to the song titled “Raised Fists” on Soundcloud alone. Many more have listened to it or downloaded the song from various social networks such as Telegram.
Hichkas released the song on his Twitter account on Tuesday evening. The post has been retweeted more than 7600 times since Tuesday which is quite unprecedented as Twitter is one of the least used social media platforms in Iran unlike Telegram which has more than 50 million subscribers. A young woman tweeted: “Hichkas’s song is sad, full of anger, scary, just like our lives.”
In “Raised Fists” he speaks about the deprived urban poor with no livelihood and no dreams who are called “the enemy” by the rulers of the country and are massacred on the streets “washed with blood for years” when they protest their lot.
The song alleges that the wounded protesters, who are never able to afford healthcare costs anyway, were “kidnapped from hospital beds” referring to reports of abduction of the wounded by security forces. Shots and the voices of protesters crying “People are shot” and “Don’t panic” are heard in the background at the end of the song.
“Even without sanctions happiness isn’t felt at all” and “As if the country is a colony, not even a dime is given to the people,” the song says and protests that the people “have no tears when tear-gassed” after years of shedding tear for their misfortunes in a country where “everyone is caged”. But Hichkas also leaves a flicker of hope when he promises “It is not the end of the story yet.”
In his latest song Soroush Lashgari who uses Hichkas (Nobody) as his stage name has also made a hit at Khamenei when he says “Everyone is trash and one is thought to be God” and charges the rulers of the country of “igniting fires in the region” referring to the military’s extraterritorial activities in Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.
The cover of the single has also drawn a lot of attention. It is a list of names of the protesters killed by the security forces in November in red ink on a black background with “First and last name unknown” repeated among them many times.
In 2010 Hichkas dedicated a song called “There Will Be a Good Day” to protesters against disputed presidential elections of 2009 which put Khamenei’s then favorite candidate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in office. But the “Good Day” never came and the two opposition candidates, Mehdi Karrubi and Mir-Hossein Mousavi, are still under house arrest.
A song called “Lay Your Rifle Down” by Mohammad-Reza Shajarian, Iran’s most popular classic singer and composer in 2009 during the protest against a disputed election became very popular at the time. “Lay your rifle down if your slumbering conscience is awakened this time,” Shajarian told the militia killing protesters on the streets in his song.
The 34-year-old rapper from Tehran who writes his own lyrics is considered as one of the pioneers of Iranian hip-hop and is nicknamed the “Godfather of Persian Rap”. He gained attention for speaking about social issues and the destitute urban youth in his songs which introduced a new trend in Iranian underground music fifteen years ago.
Many Iranian artists including Hichkas himself are systematically denied the right to publish albums or perform live and are forced to live in self-exile in other countries where they have more freedom.
He has compared the situation of artists like himself to a boycotted country. “Sanctioning is a tactic for putting a person, group or country under pressure but it can take different forms,” he wrote in a Telegram post about “sanctioned music and musicians” in February 2018.
Last year Soroush Lashgari was charged for “propagating and publishing unauthorized music”. He was released on bail but left the country before the trial ad has been living abroad since then.