Saturday, Jul 02, 2022

Bihari Swag: How Youngsters Are Building Careers On YouTube

In a state where unemployment is widespread, young men and women are striking gold through content creation

You on tube! Merio Rapper in his tea stall Photograph : Chinki Sinha

Coaching centres and cheap lodges line both sides of the crammed lanes of Musallahpur Haat. Banners and posters occupy every available space—on the walls and strung on plastic wires crisscrossing the lanes. Musallahpur Haat is a place where dreams are sold. Of lucrative government jobs. Thousands of young men and women come from Bihar’s hinterlands to stay, study and dream here—of landing a lower-ranking Group C or Group D job.

On that street with its numerous buildings with their numerous dingy rooms, a young man is telling the stories of these aspirational youth. And the students—the job-seekers—walk out of their windowless rooms in the mornings and the evenings and congregate at this tea-seller’s kiosk to hear him sing about their lives. He calls himself Merio Rapper and says hip-hop is in his soul. He says he gathers pain from the streets and the words flow. One day, the YouTube economy might make it possible for him to become a star. But he is on his way.  “I am new and I am learning,” he says. “YouTube is the space for me.” A yellow coloured board has all the information. The price of tea and coffee, etc. The young man sports shoulder-length hair, which he ties in a bun, much like the famous rappers he idolises. “It is meri aur (towards me) and that’s what it is. I tell stories of the contemporary reality of whatever I see,” he adds. That’s his repertoire. This city with its stunted bridges and its young men and women who spend years trying to crack competitive examinations so they can get out of chronic poverty that they are so familiar with. Very few make it.