Been meaning to write something about “RASTHIYADU PADANAMA” for a long time now (even before this shit happened). So I guess this, in a way, is a long-due rant. As the situation suddenly turned into this shit-fiasco, I wasn’t very keen on doing it in Sinhala considering how it’s gonna come out with all the rage that’s been gathering around us for some time now. So there I was, keenly watching from the sidelines past few days of how the people were reacting to such a shocking violation of basic human rights and how the media flipped the story over to their advantages. I guess now it’s the right time to write, and I’m choosing English whereas if I were to write in Sinhala I’d be banned from Facebook or worse, arrested by the triggered hordes of dumb motherfuckers in Sri Lanka for using profanity, yes even in this context.
Been a huge fan of Padanama since they emerged with their head turners of “selfie raps” and later when they hit us with that fiery bomb of a single, I knew they were here to stay and packed a mean fucking punch.
In my honest opinion, “KO KARIYO KO” still stands undoubtedly in the top place as an all-rounder underground track, and is easily my all-time favorite Sinhala Rap song to come out of this island. Flawless flows, kick in the nuts, and piss in your ear lyrics make that bomb of a track, a must listen at any given gathering. I can’t count how many times I’ve yelled the memorable and hard-hitting lyrics out loud, but apart from those times in those underground gigs and private parties, I remember I sang this alongside Vishva Laksshapathiarachchi on their homecoming. That’s how cult it is. That’s the raw fucking power that song has. That’s how much Padanama’s artistry is adored.
Though the baby-ass-motherfucking-snotty brats living on this island get impregnated by the slightest sound of swear words; Swearing is an art. Not everyone can use profanity in a way that makes sense and convey pure expression without any hindrance to the ideas behind it. It takes a special skill to wove the words with masterful rhyming and in a raw poetic medium such as rap, it takes a lot to gain recognition. Profanity alone wouldn’t count when it comes to that. Even though I take some pride when it comes to the written context, having penned a lot of profanities over the years, I can never be up to par with Padanama on their artistry.
When it comes to flowing as they do, or when it comes to saying out loud what they experience in their daily struggles, no other rapper from this island can match their delivery nor the raw ambiguity of their lyrics. The authenticity of their expression and the lyrical techniques they portray with ease, alone make Padanama noteworthy. I guess it has everything to do with truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. They are hailing from a raw background and they do live the life they express through their lyrics. “Rasthiyadu” to the core and with an unchallengeable “Padanama” (Of course the authorities can, and definitely will challenge whoever the fuck that breaks the social norms or rather societal chains).
According to the various local news sources, three members of the rap crew “Rasthiyadu Padanama” was recently arrested by the CCD (Colombo Crime Division), produced on courts on 12th August, and was released on bail of 500,000LKR each, on the allegations of having publicized songs that contains profanity, and on being funded by a notorious underworld criminal. A group of parents has filed a complaint with the Police claiming that the song(s) which promote abusive language and drugs was a bad influence on children who are now engaged in online education due to the COVID pandemic. The court which released the three individuals on bail had instructed for the songs to be removed from YouTube within hours of their release. The basis of the aforementioned verdict, according to the magistrate, is that the younglings will be misguided by the lyrics and the content, especially the profanity.
This is not that surprising, nor anything new, given the ridiculous shit the artists on this Island have to go through over the years to express freely. Yet, it’s baffling to see these mindboggling interpretations of the law, which is a clear threat to freedom of expression, when article 14 of the constitution of Sri Lanka clearly states;
“14. (1) Every citizen is entitled to – (a) the freedom of speech and expression including publication;” ~ The Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, (Published by the Parliament Secretariat)
When freedom is threatened by the lawmakers and their loyal lawmen who can intervene and take action against whomever that speaks against them, every individual citizen should be concerned. Even if they don’t practice arts per se. Because “Profanity” in no way, is defined by any court or in the constitution as far I know, and the most disturbing part is that this definition is made by the commoners and the lawmen who have no idea whatsoever about the freedom of expression. And add the times that profanities have been used at ease inside the Parliament to the list if you would.
And even if one was to ignore all that; as artists, who the fuck are we making art for? Is it for the wee babies? Who said everything on YouTube is for children. Do artists have to censor themselves or worse, face bullying on the long hand of those who are in power, the authorities, and in the end take down their art to preserve this so-called innocence of kids? Isn’t that ultimately the parents’ job? Aren’t the parents responsible for their kids? In my opinion, the parents’ who filed this case should be sued in the first place for failing to be responsible for the wellbeing of the kids in question. Of course, YouTube is accessible to everyone with an internet connection. Yet, anyone with a basic knowledge of how the internet works know, there are ways to stop kids from watching adult content. You can choose what you watch. No one forces anyone to watch anything. If your kid is watching some random shit on YT and even though you are afraid that your child will lose their “innocence”, yet, you can’t stop them from watching it, it should be your problem. Not everybody else’s.
Then again, the laughable, yet the sad reality is, parents in this scenario are way outdated to handle these things. As are the governments. They can’t control the internet. Which is scarier for governments and lawmen than parents I guess.
There’s a bazillion (Pun not intended, can’t be too careful these days, lol) number of music videos that contain vulgar imagery, and profane lyrics on the internet, released and publicized by renowned and award-winning artists around the world. If a government or the local law decides no one should publicize things like these, they’d move forward in prohibiting access to YT, or ultimately, the whole of the internet (If they want to they’ll find ways lol). That’s how their limited brains work. Prohibit this, censor that, eliminate this shit, kill that motherfucker; and all of that just because “they said something that might corrupt the minds of the youth” or some other bullshit reason.
Youth is by far more superior in technological literacy than these old idiot thugs. They are far intelligent in deciphering what’s right and wrong on the internet. No one would push them towards anything they don’t want. If they don’t listen to their parents, what makes these old farts think they’ll listen to a bunch of rappers on YT?
The police have alleged that the aforementioned rappers are close friends of a notorious underworld criminal and state that the criminal has funded the production of the song titled “DAN KATA KATATH”. Even if that allegation is true, what’s the basis behind the other allegation which is publicizing a song with profanity. If using profanity is a crime punishable by the law, why are these words being used freely in the parliament, where the lawmakers gather? We can’t even question the law in fear of being hunted down and produced in front of a court on the allegations of defaming the law. But as people with the capability of thinking, what else are we supposed to do? So we’ll keep questioning the basis of this miscalculated verdict which violates a basic human right.
I’m puzzled, confused, and alarmed by the deafening silence the rest of the islanders and almost all of the human rights activists hold while these kinds of blatant attacks keep happening around. Amidst a pandemic, where the pandemic regulations act as unofficial laws, clear violations and daylight robberies of human rights hit the fan, and no one bats even an eye. Maybe they are afraid themselves. Maybe they hold their tongues in fear of being singled out. There are too many maybe’s and no one to speak against violating rights.
We’ve all heard the quote; “First they came for…” Let me just paraphrase that quote like this; if they came for them, they’ll come for us and if they come for us, you’ll be the next. But sadly for you, there won’t be anyone to speak against the injustice ‘cause, well, we’ll all be rotting under the fallacy of law and ordinance, counting the gadflies in those godforsaken prison cells.
Members of the “Rasthiyadu Padanama” should file a fundamental rights case against this blatant violation of their freedom of expression, and I’ll urge them to do so, whilst speaking out against any kind of censorship. Art should be free from any kind of intervention at any cost! That’s something I wholeheartedly believe in and that’s something I’ll practice until the day I stop expressing.
Take up your arms, bring your hunting dogs, yet, I will stand with “Padanama” regardless of the consequences and the aftermath that might follow, knowing very well, that the rule makers and the people in power of this godforsaken island are gonna turn their dumb wicked snakeheads towards me and bite me in the ass (I’m sure they will not get the humor. lol).
Here are four middle fingers raised with all of my limbs that you’ll be able to insert wherever you prefer if you don’t believe in the right to freedom of expression!
Fuck you very much!
~ Pamuditha 6ZN Anjana