We interviewed Onur Dursun, aka Ozbi, who received attention with the song called “Asi” (Rebel) and its video that he made for the Gezi Resistance. “The fear wall has been broken. It depends on little sparks after this point. I am not a politician but organizing is much needed.”
Onur Dursun, aka Ozbi, who received attention with the video he made for the song called “Asi” (Rebel), was born and raised in Nurtepe. Resistance has become part of his daily life… Ozbi has been on the streets since the first day of the Gezi Resistance, and he dedicated a song called Asi and a video to the resistance after Abdullah Comert was killed. In the video he meets a policeman holding a gun against him as soon as he gets out on the street, saying “I am going for the resistance, with a bag and a cloth mask on my stash”. The power of rap comes in at this point and he starts to say whatever he wants to the police. His song is a revolt against reactionism, a police state, deception, capitalism’s dictatorship…
For how long have you been a rapper, how did you become a musician?
Originally, I am from Erzincan, but I was born and raised in Kagithane, Nurtepe. I have been a rapper since 2000. I have always worked on this, I built a studio for myself. In time my circle of friends grew, I got involved in the rap community but it is a very American culture. I was feeling that I lacked something there. I was broke but I managed to make an album in my studio over the internet. I made a video in 2010. It was time for me to attend college. I read a lot and I love reading so I started in the department of Turkish Language and Literature. Then I suspended school because my life got messed up. I agreed with a production company to make an album named “Folk Literature”. I worked on adapting rap music to our geography and culture. But the company did something that is very common in this country. They spent a lot of money and they cheated. Then I started to study acting, I felt as if I had found myself. You have to sing like you live it, otherwise people will not feel it.
I had worked with Fuat Ergin from the community before. I also did a lot of work with people from the underground community. There are talented kids but they act as if they are American. If you are making rebellious music you need to address the whole people. That’s what I was working on and that’s why I chose to call my album “Folk Literature”. Rap is not about “I entered the studio, I heard the music, I wrote the lyrics, I recorded them and left”. If you can tell something with rap, then that’s music. I see things and I can not go without saying them but I do not fit into the usual form of rapper. I criticize that American form of rapping a lot. They do not go beyond imitating what is already out there. You can not produce anything meaningful just by imitating.
Rap music, by its origin, is not a type of music that can be in peace with an oppressive power. But we see examples of this in Turkey. Sagopa Kajmer is one of those. What do you say about this, what do you see?
I do not want to talk about people who have already proved themselves but I can tell you this: No Sufi poet claims to be on one side. A Sufi poet is on the side of humans. And no human being who is on the side of human beings talks like an imam who gets paid by the office of religious affairs. There is no surrendering in rap. I am someone who has listened to Sagopa, a rapper who has run to get his album out; but he surrendered.
‘You need intelligence to produce, not drugs’
Do you have anything to say about rap music community and the use of drugs?
Drug use is very common in the community but that can not be an excuse for not producing. They got used to it. The people who deal with art have big egos and so they think they can do whatever they want whenever they want. But composing a song takes a lot of time and effort. Something you do in one day is not art. That, you do for fun. I am not against that. But people who approach with this attitude use drugs as an excuse. In fact that can not be an excuse. There is nothing like “My mind opens up when I use drugs and I can produce art”. You also can be creative and produce while you read, while you walk, etc. You need your intelligence to produce and that is enough.
‘No one can label us’
Did you get any negative reaction to the lyrics in your song that say “It is legit for you to squat down for money, and then the gays become the sinner and you become the hero”?
Actually, everybody knows what I mean when I say that… I needed to make a comparison there but maybe the meaning shifts. But did not get any negative reactions, there were gays who congratulated me as well.
What did you mean by “I can be the people if I want, I can be the anarchist if I want”?
They constantly tell us “you’re this, you’re that, you’re an anarchist, you’re a provocateur”, they even say this about our personal beliefs. They are constantly trying to make us something, turn us into something, label us. I say “What do you know!” Nobody can tell us this, neither the family nor feudal relations nor the teacher in the school. The head of the police, the governor, the mayor or the state can not tell me this, this is something only I can determine.
‘We wouldn’t get the train if we were afraid of iron”
How did the song and the video come about?
I was in the demonstrations from the start. I was in that spirit. Abdullah Comert was killed. What could I do? What I work on is rap. I needed to do something. I felt as if I was hit by a gas canister or fell down while running, or I was run over by the riot vehicle, in fact I died there. I watched the news alone and went out to participate in the protest. I went there to continue my individual struggle. I have no ties with any organization, I go out to say “do not interfere in my life” and you kill me. This is dictatorship. I already come from an oppositional district. I had an anti-police alter-ego named “Asi” (Rebel), I had accumulated notes and I had prepared the music before. That is how I got it done in 5 days. They ask me if I was worried. I wrote it, shot the video and published it. Why do you still ask me that? Would I get the train if I was afraid of iron? Baran, the director of the video, and I know each other from the centre where we had acting lessons. We will keep on doing the upcoming videos together.
How do you think the June Resistance will reflect on the artistic production?
If the production goes back to the way it was people will refuse it, they realized what to criticize. They will seek for the spirit in the process of resistance and we will fill that void. People realized what is right and what is wrong, they know who the liar is. I am working on the song “Kazulet” now. I made “Asi” for the resistance, I continue with Kazulet.
‘The resistance is not over’
What does the June Resistance mean to you?
The wall of fear has been broken, I am very happy about that. It depends on sparks after this point. People are not scared of being detained, or even being killed anymore. Because we realized that they are liars now. Now the only thing needed is to follow up on this. I mean to pursue the unification, the power. There are people who say it’s over, it’s not over. It will not stop from now on. Do you think these people will let you do wrong again? First of all the 10 per cent election threshold should be lowered. The whole country needs to fill the streets for this. I am not a politician, but I am sure about this. People need to organize for this. The Americans had set up the election system. The government captured everything, all the institutions, the media. They probably play with the votes too. You can expect such a thing from these liars. I will keep a vigilant eye on the ballot box next time when there is an election. Where there is a prime minister who says “they drank in the mosque, they beat up a women and peed on them” I will stick to the ballot box. Other people see these lies too. Only the money lovers, the servants of the capitalists do not.
Why do you think the resistance against the dictatorship that has been there for 11 years exploded in Gezi?
Actually, the leftist organizations have put in a lot of effort for this for years. They have been struggling for years but they could not find a response in an apolitical generation. The night of May 31st Taksim was on fire, it is online and it is very obvious. The media managed to manipulate the people before but this time everybody saw it and they could not hide it. Maybe the fact that these are liars needed to be clearly demonstrated. They were even interfering with people’s daily lives. Also the fact that they said “we resolved it” very soon after the explosion in Reyhanli was not convincing at all. They cannot identify the man who gave the orders in Roboski, they have not been able to solve the case of Hrant for years but in Reyhanli they immediately say “they did it, they killed people”. People start to see the contradictions here.
‘We are smarter than you, dude!’
The director of the video “Asi” Olgu Baran Kubilay, is known by short film fans for his film “The bus”. He is a young director. Kubilat and Ozbi met while they were studying drama and now he is directing Ozbi’s videos.
You were known for your short film “The bus” before making this video. What have you been doing recently? Have you have time to produce new things during the resistance?The bus took up almost 2 years. I will start a new short film project. There are also preparations for a long one as well. But since May 31st I am doing what people who think like me are doing. I am resisting. Many of my colleagues took on the responsibility of documenting this process with their cameras but I did not choose that. I did not want to have something with me that I needed to focus on more than resisting. There are two more things I want to do about the resistance. One of them is Ozbi’s next song and the other is for another artist friend that we know. It is a more naïve and different project.
How do you think the June Resistance will affect artistic production, especially the production of movies (documentary, fiction)?
With the June Resistance the first thing effect is that the mainstream media channels have lost their credibility (did they have it anyway?). It will not be as easy to work for TV as before, finally! Because people showed that their understanding of art, their understanding of humour was different. We are smarter than you, dude! The Internet proved once again how strong it is. Only by looking at the graffiti on the walls people can see what kind of a transition we are going through. Another effect was on the people who did the graffiti. Pieces of art are now the shape of their mould. We changed, so now I think in cinema and the visual arts we will see more fearless, brave work and works that don’t avoid meddling with things.
Can you tell us the story of the video?
I always told Ozbi that I wanted to make a video for him because I like his songs a lot. After this song was done he came to me. He already had a story in his mind. We enriched it with my ideas and finalized it. We got footage from other friends in the resistance. Then we shot Ozbi’s synchronisations. We edited it in 2 days. It was a very diligent and well scrutinized process before it took its final version. Our aim was to be heard . It makes me very happy to see that people are shouting with us now.
(The video for the song Asi is added by everywheretaksim.net)
31 July 2013
This post is also available in: Turkish