What! In your throat! Why! (a review of Shahin Najafi’s song)

Recently there has been a lot of discussion about Shahin Najafi’s new song, “تو حلقم“.  The refraining phrase in that song being “تو حلقم”, which directly translates to “in my throat”, has also created a lot of controversy.  But, what does this phrase mean exactly.  And, as some people have suggested, would this song make Shahin Nejafi a sexist!?  Well, according to some people all Iranian men are sexists, but let’s put that school of thought aside for now so we can focus on the phrase in question, “تو حلقم”.

To understand what this new catch phrase means exactly, we must first look and see how it is used daily by today’s youth at the street level, because as far as I can tell the way it is use back home is quite different than what it is understood by us, the outsiders, the ones who have been away from living in that society for a long while; or the way it is understood by the ones, should I dare to say, are over forty.  The Farsi language is evolving constantly, especially the one that is used by the young, and we are getting behind.

As I remember,  when I was a teenager, a new phrase, “سه شد”, came to our language that my parents had no idea what it meant, and also during the Hippie era in the 60’s and 70’s a lot of new phrases were entering into English language that the older English-speaking generation had no idea what it meant, phrases like “what’s up”, “you’re grooving”, or “give me some skin brother!”!  ‘What!  Who is this black man telling me to give him some of my skin, and why is he calling me his brother!  Do I look like his brother!’  You see the misunderstanding?

So, what does “تو حلقم” mean? Well, actually it could mean anything , anything from acceptance, confirmation, corroboration, support, praise, to gratitude, and anything in between.  The phrase “تو حلقم” does not necessarily mean a negative thing, in the case of this song, an anti woman message tied up to a long list of things that is wrong with the woman in the song, and those things are getting into the artist’s throat!  This phrase could mean anything from “it’s cool”, “you’re cool”, “I understand you/the situation”, “it’s great”, “anything goes”, “you’re great”, “I am with you”, “let’s do it”, “I want a piece of the action too”, “thanks”, “I am grateful”, “I accept your/the predicament”, and so on, and so forth; and of course “تو حلقم” can also always mean “in my throat”, which means something that’s “chocking me”.  It all depends on the context.

So, before we jump the gun, we out to ask Shahin Najafi what he means by this song, but don’t actually try this yet, because in one of his interviews I heard him say he really doesn’t feel like explaining things, either you are from a generation that understands him or you are not (these are my words, not exactly his, but you get the gist of I am saying).  The next thing we can look into is whether historically he has been a sexist person or not, which as far as I have looked into this there is no indication that he is against women.  By looking at this song alone, the way I see it is that a man is talking about a woman that he cares for, and as usual there are differences between them, and the man goes through a list of these things that he finds odd with the situation, and he is willing to except those.  He is saying, you have your guitar hanging in the kitchen, “تو حلقم “, “acceptance”, “whatever”, “I can take it”.  And, he goes on with the rest of the stuff on the list, but then he says he is different, and this is what he is, ‘I am a singer, and this is a heavy burden on me, and you seem to be blind and can’t see this, so one day I might have enough of this and just get up and say goodbye.’  I don’t see anything wrong with this.

Would it have been better to have used a different phrase, a less controversial but more intellectual one, and sang the song for us, the older generation?  Or in his song, would it have been better to have the phrase, “تو حلقم “ explained clearly, or at least expanded the ending of the song better to make it more clear that he is not an anti woman person, fitting in something like, ‘’ برابری برای همه زنان”, “equal rights for all women”?  Well, maybe, but at the end, would the outcome be a “song”, or would it be pages of explanations, like so many of them that we usually don’t ever read.  Let’s give the guy a break.  He is alright.  He has tons and tons of potentials.  Frankly, I think he will make master pieces, for all ages, for all genders, and creeds, and surely for Persian literature.


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