Aditya Tiwari aka MC Kode has been missing since last night following the social media frenzy of cyber-bullying and death threats that the Delhi-based rapper was subjected to. In a concerning Instagram story, Kode (@forreal_kode) revealed that he “was standing at an isolated bridge overlooking the Yamuna River”.
“I do not blame anyone for anything but myself. A relief from my own existence is gonna serve as a punishment that the entire country wanted,” he continuesd
The rapper has been missing since then. Volunteers in search parties covered various bridges in Delhi all night but to no avail.
For those unacquainted with the Delhi hip-hop circuit, the previous week was particularly tumultuous for Kode, who became the centre of controversy among Hindu extremists who labelled him as ‘Hinduphobic’.
It all started a few days ago when a few Instagram handles started sharing an older rap battle video from June 2016 in which Kode made remarks about the Bhagvad Gita and Mahabharata. As the video resurfaced, many claimed that their religious sentiments had been hurt with his words.
For a layperson, battle rap may seem like an extreme space. And it is. Be it in India or overseas, rap battles are dominated by extreme verbal attacks targeted at a personal level where the entire intention is to disrespect the opponent.
The questionable aspects of battle rap aside, Kode acknowledged his fault – as is evident from an apology that he uploaded to his Instagram stories on May 27.
“I’ve angered a lot of people and that anger is understood and I deeply regret my actions…Currently all my details have been leaked including my address and there is a mass movement of people calling for a mob lynch of me and my family…Also local goons have placed a price on my head too. I am deeply sorry and I request you to please forgive me and spare me and the people associated to me their life.”
Kode also added that he had removed all his music from streaming platforms and that not only him but his family had also been receiving death threats.
The number of hateful tweets, DMs and Instagram comments against the rapper blew up after a few publications picked up on the story. While some of these demanded that Kode be arrested for hurting religious sentiments, others called for violence.
Despite the apology, the hateful messages continued to snowball. An Instagram user @maheshpatilshinde108 then shared Kode’s address and contact number with the message “only lynching chalegi“. Another user @the.vedic.ugravaadi shared a screenshot of a ‘contract killer’ website, saying, “Bata bhai? Marwade tereko? (‘Tell us, should we kill you?)”.
Some conspiracy theories also cropped up, with people calling Kode “not a real Hindu”, referring to him as a “Dalit and converted Christian”. The Instagram page @thehindrakshaks shared a post that points to the background from one of Kode’s earlier Live videos only to speculate: “Seems like a converted rice bag with a Hindu name.”
This is just the tip of the iceberg as both Twitter and Instagram continue to teem with several such threatening messages that are now celebrating his disappearance.
On the other hand, Kode’s fans and other netizens have taken to social media platforms to amplify the incident and his physical appearance for anyone who can find him. For instance, a major identifying mark is a neck tattoo reading ‘51’. #SaveMCKode and #BringBackMCKode are also some of the hashtags that are trending. Many users also tagged Delhi police.
“I’ve known Kode since school. In his music, he constantly refers to his father’s suicide and his own struggles with mental health. In many rap battles, many of his opponents also brought up his father as a way of attack – and he always took it, no matter how ruthless the words were. Rap battles are a complex space, and he’s been instrumental in building a thriving movement in Delhi. There’s a lot more to him than the trolls are making out – he is a pioneer of this space,” a Delhi-based musician told LiveWire.
“In order to understand a figure like Kode, one must understand the difference between hip-hop as a genre of music and as a culture. It is not his songs in isolation, but his grassroots level contributions which built a scene in Delhi from scratch. He managed to create a community which gave troubled young people in the city hope and a more creative way to express themselves. To me, Kode symbolises what hip-hop stands for beyond the music and hip-hop in Delhi would not be what it is today if it were not for the movement he started. There is a reason why some of the leading MCs from the country such as Seedhe Maut and Full Power are affiliated with Spit Dope. That’s where it all started,” said a rapper from Delhi who has spent several years as part of the underground scene.
As Kode’s whereabouts remain the subject of mystery, one can only question the validity of the mob justice surrounding this entire case.
Shaurya Thapa is a freelance journalist, who mostly writes on pop-culture, music, and cinema.