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Kattar Kinnar: Delhi’s first trans rapper set to release new music album

Every once in a while, India’s hip-hop community produces something so raw and direct that it is hard not to marvel at it. Delhi-based rapper Kinari’s new album, Kattar Kinnar, is one such production that blends her unfiltered expression of life as a transgender artiste into rap. The holistic quality of the production with technical finesse and diverse elements of House, gaana and ballroom music only adds to it. The artiste is now setting out on a multi-city tour of Bengaluru, Pune, and Mumbai starting July 7.

“This is the first-time people have responded en masse to my music,” shares the 25-year old from Delhi about the album that was released in April. She first broke through on the scene with the EP Queerbops in June 2023. This time around, she set her eyes on a larger goal — to experiment with music and genres.

The result is an album that questions hip-hop’s hetero gaze with its direct, assertive lyrics in English and Hindi. This includes breaking out some uncomfortable truths about the transgender community itself. “There is a tendency among people to either disparage or elevate the community. We are either outcasts or absolute angels fighting for our rights. We are neither. We are humans, and have our flaws. And if I do not speak about it, who will?” she states calmly.

The 12-song album also marks the rise of her new identity, Kinari — a departure from her earlier name, Finsta. The name is an evolution of the word kinnar, the Hindi term for transgender. “I simply used it to showcase the feminine with Kinari,” she says.

An artwork for the album, Kattar Kinnar. Illustration Courtesy/Nonisha Negi

While the lyrics of tracks like Baahar, Asli Girlpower or Hijar are in your face and powerful, it is the production that surprises you. With elements of Gaana (in Asli girlpower) or ballroom music (Rockbotom parichit) or folk and mujra (Madhuri), there are signs of a rapper coming into her own.

The gaana influence — a folk form that arose from the slums and underbelly of Chennai — is a throwback to her own South Indian heritage. Citing the song, Rock bottom parichit she says, “The polyrhythm style of rapping is common in South India. I used that with House music. Similarly, with Madhuri, I turned to Devdas (2002). I wanted the Indian rhythms to go beyond samples. The melodies [in the album] might be Western, but the rhythm itself is inherently Indian.”

Hip-hop accepts you, no matter who you are, as long as you speak the truth of your experience, she tells us. Her upcoming multi-city tour will feature appearances from Mumbai rapper Anjaan, Khabardar Revolt, Shreyas and Vedang, among others.

But does that mean the hip-hop community is accepting, or ‘woke’? “We are only into two decades of hip-hop as a genre or industry in India. The social issues faced by the queer or LGBTQiA+ community, or even casteism dates back to a thousand years. To expect this fledgling industry to address it is naïve. As a queer artiste, I have had tough experiences. I have been fans of rappers before who have ended up using queer slurs in their rap. It leaves a bitter aftertaste. 

So, I now tread carefully,” she says. This also led to the creation of Meetha World, a series of rap gigs, with her manager, Mithran, to be independent.

Yet, the rapper will not give in to self-pity. “I would love to say that I am on a crusade, and fighting a cause. No, this is a privilege. I am having fun. To have this opportunity to throw a party is a gift,” she shares.

On July 13 
At Veranda Underground, Pali Hill, Bandra West.
Log on to 
Cost Rs 500 onwards

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