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This 23-Year-Old Student is using Rap Music to Talk About Society Issues, and to Promote His Culture | Meet Moko Koza from Nagaland

There’s no denying about the power of Music – it can heal, it can connect people around the world, and it has the potential to bring about change. Today we have a young rapper from Nagaland who has been in the music scene for over a decade but only recently caught our attention through his very catchy and powerful Nagamese* rap (*local dialect in Nagaland) called “Puisa” – meaning Money. He apostatizes the money-mad posse in his verses – which are shrewdly propped up by a sampled vocal hook from Aloe Blacc’s “I Need A Dollar”, a fitting motif for this game-changing Nagamese tune.

Meet 23-year old Moko Koza from Nagaland, an anthropology student and a talented rapper, who is using music as a medium to highlight issues in the society, and to promote his culture by using local dialects in his music, and through international collabs – with his most recent being “Internationally Known” – a single released in collaboration with rappers from Detroit and Sarkar Musik.

We chat with Moko Koza – a student of Kohima Science College to know more about his music career, what he aims to achieve through his music, and his latest projects.

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Photo: Moko Koza from Kohima, Nagaland

  • Hello Moko, please introduce yourself.

Hey! I’m Moko Koza. I’m 23 and I’m a rapper based in Kohima, Nagaland. I’m currently in my final year of M.Sc in Anthropology at Kohima Science College, Jotsoma. I have been a part of the rap music scene for more than a decade now, and I have 2 music videos releasing very soon.

  • Coming to your music, you often mix local Naga dialects with English in a modern sonic aesthetic. What are your thoughts on the need to promote your Naga heritage through modern mediums – like rap?

In this post-globalization era where social media plays a huge role in flattening the world even further, the young crowd tends to incorporate various nuggets of popular culture into their own. So there’s the excitement of a whole new world opening up to us with the click of a button. But that kind of exposure comes with a trade-off – that of, forgetting our identity or abandoning our rich cultural heritage. I make sure I don’t lose my home roots even while incorporating new styles or collaborating with artists from around the world.

“As a youth myself, I try to use music as a medium to reach out to people – to educate and promote our rich culture through well crafted lyrical storytelling. I am all for being organic and authentic but at the same time not shy of incorporating  mainstream elements for maximum impact and reach.”

Moko Koza’s “Internally Known” in collaboration with Detroit rappers and Sarkar Musik.

  • Talking about your roots, how has your Naga upbringing and culture influenced your music?

Growing up in Nagaland, a place where there are so many tribes with their own unique dialects, customs, festivals, food, etc has definitely shaped my world and my music. Nagas are an interesting community and I am proud to be a part of this culturally rich group. My Naga society, people and our way of life influence my music to a great extent.

“I am especially drawn by the way various Naga tribes are able to communicate amongst themselves through shared beliefs – despite differences in their mother tongue, and even certain customs at times. This quality has helped me and my music reach out to people and artists beyond my home state.”

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Photo: Moko Koza with Sarkar Musik – working on their collab “Internationally Known”

  • No denying that Rap is a popular genre – with artists like Kendrick Lamar even winning a Pulitzer award in recent times. What are your thoughts on the place of rap in Nagaland?

Rap music is, without a doubt, one of the most popular genre at the moment – fiercely dominating the Billboard charts all over the world (go check it out yourself!) Asian countries too are not unaffected by its popularity with many artists from the region gaining international recognition.

In Nagaland, it is still taking its time to break away from the stereotypical association with immorality and sometimes vulgarity. It is often perceived as a youthful menace. But what many don’t realize is that rap music, with its energy and its popularity with the youth, can be a powerful medium to creatively address issues relating to society and life in general.

“Rap can provide a platform to the youths – affected by social ills, to raise their voice and reach out to people from all walks of life and speak of matters and issues that would otherwise be a treading ground for few privileged circles.”

Naga youths dancing to Moko Koza’s Nagamese rap song “Puisa” as a way to raise awareness for clean elections during Nagaland elections 2018.

He raps (translated to English) “Dear Government, please spare some change to fill up the potholes. Gives me a heartache just to look at the Nagaland roads; when it rains even the roads fill up with tears. God bless my Nagaland. I am not a know-it-all trying to preach here, but everybody goes blind when they see money. My respect ‘salaam’ to all those sweating it out to earn; you are the true name-bearers of the society. I urge with the truth to take this love for money you have, and love yourself instead for a change . . .”

  •  Name three artists whom you think people should watch out for from the local scene?

Currently, in the scene, I would say Lc Sekhose, M-Dox & Rugks.

  • What can we expect in the coming days from you as an artist and the rap community in Nagaland?

There is so much happening within the hip-hop community in the state right now. More and more young and talented rappers are taking up the mic with an ardent and unadulterated passion for the art. Fans of the genre are being vocal about their commitment to the community by coming out in hordes to support local acts too. We have recently concluded the second edition of “Urban Jam” which is a positive step towards better and greater things to come in the near future.

“As for me, I am currently working on my debut album and you can expect new music and music videos from me pretty soon!! Also, I would like to give a shoutout to Asalie Peseyie (aka NV), one of the first rappers from Nagaland.”


Moko Koza during a performance.

Follow him on YouTube and Instagram for all music and gig updates. Click below to check out his song “One Day (Khunhie Puo)” (English/Tenyidie Rap Song) [Note: Tenyidie is the local dialect of Angami Naga tribe]

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