Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Ignorance and American Eagle Outfitters

I would have thought that American media and American companies would have learned by now that it is not cool to put Hindu Deities on toilets, misconstrued on Album covers, and yes it is not cool to place them on shoes or sandals either. According to this story in the Deccan Herald, American Eagle Outiftters is selling sandals that place the Hindu Deity Ganesh (also known as the elephant god because of his elephant head and trunk*) on the insole of a sandal. From the article: "The frequency of such appearances keeps busy an organisation sponsored by the World Hindu Council of America (VHP-A). It is called American Hindus Against Defamation (AHAD).

Every time it notices an offending product in the US market, it activates a petition and protest. It has demanded that American Eagle Outfitters immediately withdraws the flip-flops from the market and issues an unequivocal apology to the Hindu community.

It has several similar protests to its credit. It protested the offensive Aerosmith album cover for Nine Lives, inappropriate inclusion of Bhagwad Gita shloka in Eyes Wide Shut, treatment of Hindu deities in Xena: Warrior Princess, representation of Hindu deity on shoes by Fortune Dynamics, representation of Hindu deities on toilet seats by Sittin Pretty.
AHAD has tried to explain to Americans that in Hindu culture, shoes are considered to be "dirty" and it is an age old Hindu custom to remove shoes before entering temples and even homes.

“To put images of Gods and Goddesses, which are revered and worshipped by a billion strong Hindu community is not just a mark of ignorance but seemingly a deliberate attempt to denigrate Hindu dharma and Hindus around the world.”

AHAD speculates as to why these companies do not pick up symbols from other religions. “It is most likely due to the fear of the reaction of the Christian, Jewish and Moslem community that the American Eagle Outfitters has chosen to bring out the flip flop with a Hindu religious symbol — Lord Ganesh — while avoiding Christian, Moslem, or Jewish symbols.”

If this is offensive to you, click here for the AHAD petition.
*this link has more information on ganesh and why this is insulting to Hindus. If I have time tomorrow Iwill palce an image of the sandals on the blog, as well as the story behind why Ganesh has an elephant face instead of his own original face.

Midival Punditz on Six Feet Under

No, MIDIval Punditz did not cameo as DJ's on the show, but one of their songs did. I don’t know if any of you watch the HBO show Six Feet Under, but if you get a chance to see this weeks episode, towards the end of the show, there is an art-show/party, and the people in the scene are dancing to a track from the MIDIval Punditz’s self titled debut album, entitled “Bhangra Fever.” If any of you are interested, the record is on Six Degrees records, and is available both on the Six Degrees website and on Pretty cool.

Secondly, another one of my reviews, this time a review of Talvin Singh’s early early release, Drum and Space, is now posted on

Monday, April 28, 2003

Bend it Like Beckham Star to be Regular on NBC's ER

Finally. CNN reports that Parminder Nagra, the star of the British Asian hit comedy Bend it Like Beckham, will be joining the cast of ER as a regular medical student. This is great for South Asian's in America, finally a desi is going to represent on ER for ALL of the desi doctors in the U.S. I really don't know what took ER so long, but after the cameo appearances by South-Asian Americans as medical students in the drama, one will finally join the cast full time. Finally art will be imitating a South Asian life. I am reproducing the CNN report below.

LOS ANGELES, California (Hollywood Reporter) -- Parminder Nagra, the star of Fox Searchlight's hit soccer comedy "Bend It Like Beckham," is set to join the cast of NBC's marquee drama "ER" as a regular, playing a medical student.

Sources said Nagra's deal with the series' producers, John Wells Prods. and Warner Bros. TV, is for next season, the show's last under its current pact with NBC, with an option for three more years.

Nagra, a British actress of Indian decent, has become known to American audiences with "Beckham," a British comedy set in the world of women's amateur soccer.

After seven weeks in limited release, it has grossed $9.1 million. Her other credits include ITV's series "A&E" and the upcoming Miramax feature "Ella Enchanted."

Here is another report on this story from the Hollywood Reporter.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Panjabi MC on MTV2

Rumor has it that Panjabi MC's video, the one with Blonde Travolta and PreeTee Kaur, minus the Jay Z verses (also, one would think if Jay-Z is going to use the track, that he could learn how to say Punjabi correctly), is making the rotations on MTV2. If you want to check ithe video out online, go to Panjabi MC's MTV page located here.

Saturday, April 19, 2003

Asians and Film

I have written about this briefly before, but with the increased hype these past two weeks about a couple of Asian films, I thought I would give it a try. First is one of my favorites, Bend it Like Beckham, Gurindher Chadha's film about an British Asian girl wanting to play football. The film has been doing really well, and even after being released almost four weeks ago, is still getting good press. Today's Washington Post has a nice article by Donna Britt, explaining how everyone, Indian, American, Chinese, Latin, whowever you are, at times have to try and "bend things" to fit in. Here are a couple of paragraphs, which I thought were nice.

Perhaps audiences are captivated by the film's
suggestion that most of us are benders -- not of balls but of ourselves.
Heroine Jess (Nagra) feels so pulled between her parents' cherished Indian
and Sikh traditions and her own decidedly un-feminine dreams of
soccer stardom that she hides her participation with a women's team.

But isn't bending part of living? For years, I
shaped my speech patterns according to who I was with -- whether my
parents or friends or less-affluent classmates or preppy co-workers.
Shifting cadences, softening or sharpening my "g"s, I'd decide, moment by
moment, which me to reveal.

To the South-Asian Americans reading this post, if you have already seen this film on a pirated DVD, or VHS, go to the theater and see it again. Let Hollywood know that South Asians are here, and these are the kinds of films we want to see. We want to see more Desi's and people of ethnic heritage on the big screen (and on the small screen as well). If we don't support movies like Bend it Like Beckham, the big studios will not change. And second of all, stop giving these desi shopkeepers reasons to stock pirated videos. So, to make what could be a long diatribe short, GO SEE THIS MOVIE!

The other Asian film that was recently released and doing quite well is Justin Lin's Better Luck Tomorrow. Since being picked up by MTV films for distributing, this film has been able to be played and more theaters, and the more, that we as Asian-Americans, or any type of American, go to theater and support these movies, the more change will come. There is a great AP review in the Washington Post, and here are a couple of paragraphs:

Justin Lin's movie embraces stereotypes in order to smash them. The heroes, all Asian, find the perfect cover in the way parents, teachers and classmates perceive them - intelligent and industrious, yet quiet and humble. In reality, they're first-rate thieves and scam artists, and they learn how to run their criminal enterprise by first mastering the socially acceptable art of scamming admissions deans at the nation's top universities.

Lin makes an argument worth considering: that the soul-sucking college-application process and the shamelessly cynical resume-padding that goes into it are just a half-step away morally from a life of crime. These boys' hearts are in nothing they do, either academic or extracurricular; it's all a show to impress a dean behind an ivy-covered wall. "Better Luck Tomorrow" - shot in Orange County, Calif., where Lin was raised - is the most keenly observed, savagely funny vision of high school life since 1999's "Election." Lin's immersion into his characters' universe is so deep that adults have only a handful of speaking roles - a bold choice that suggests the extent to which parents and teachers can be kept in the dark.

The reviews of Better luck Tomorrow have been great, and screenings have been selling out, so go to the movies, do an Asian double feature. Go see Bend it Like Beckham and Better Luck Tomorrow, today!

Friday, April 18, 2003


I know it has been some time since I have done some decent posting, but the nice weather in DC is catching up with me, and I have a lot of schoolwork to do in the next couple of weeks. I will get my masters this may from georgetown, and cannot wait to be finished. But things go on, i guess. I am pasting below the text of a UPI article I received, written by Mani Shankar Aiyar. It, to be quite honest, is the first article I have seen that talked about some of the good that Saddam has done. In recent classes many of my classmates and I have been discussing the notion of this war on Iraq being a just war b/c of the humanitarian crises that Saddam had created for his people. While I see some of the joy that portions of the Iraqi people are displaying on American TV, I am just not convinced that this was America's cause. In fact, I doubt it. The point is, I am not sure the U.S. really took into account all the craziness/chaos that is going to occur in the next couple of years in the region. Yesterday I saw on ABC news, a story about the looting of the only mental hospital in Iraq, including medications. Instead of handing out prescribed items, because of the looting, staff now hand out cigarettes to the patients in order to calm them down. Anyway, I have pasted the text of the article at the end of the post.

Panjabi MC featuring Jay-Z, The Beware of the Boys remix was released on Tuesday in the states. You can buy it in your record stores or from here. I have almost every version of this track, but I am going to buy it just to support the desis trying to take the sound mainstream. You should too.

Then, I am posting this link, to an article discussing last week's U.S.-Pakistan, India-Pakistan tensions rising again, with the Indian Foreign Minister suggesting that a pre-emptive strike on Pakistan is in order by citing American action in Iraq. The U.S. response was of course that India should use diplomacy and that there is no similarity between India-Pak and U.S.-Iraq. hah. And now, the Pakistanis are saying they have a right to a preemptive strike on India. All this and it is almost May, which means war mongering again in South Asia.

I also wanted to post this link to the story about Ahemedabad, Gujarat, the site of so much communal violence last year, electing its first Muslim female, Aneesa Mirza, as mayor. I don't know, but this just says something to me about the resilience of Indian democracy. After Narendra Modi's victory a few months back in the overall Gujarat elections, I was having doubts about politics in my familial state (I am a Gujarati). The election of Ms. Mirza adds some hope, as hopefully it will add a more secular tone to Gujarati politics. I think MK Gandhi would be proud.

The final link is more gratuitous self promotion. It is to an interview I gave to on Bhangra Blowout.

The Other Saddam - A View From India

By Mani Shankar Aiyar

BANGALORE, India (UPI)-Why should the Iraqi people feel any gratitude or
loyalty to President Saddam Hussein? You would not know it from anything
that has been written in the U.S. or British media, but there are very good
reasons. I was commercial counselor and deputy chief of mission at the
Indian Embassy in Baghdad from 1976 to 1978. During the interregnum between
two ambassadors, I was also for a while the Indian charge d'affaires. This
explains why I had more than one occasion to stare into Saddam's
expressionless grey-green eyes-straight out of "The Day of the
Jackal"-while shaking his hand at various official banquets and other
ceremonial occasions.

Saddam ran a brutal dictatorship. That, however, caused no concern to the
hordes of Western businessmen who descended in droves on Iraq to siphon
what they could of Iraq's newfound oil wealth through lucrative contracts
for everything. Everything-from eggs to nuclear plants. Because
technologically, from the end of the Turkish Empire over Iraq in 1919
through the British mandate, which lasted till 1932, and the effete
monarchy masterminded by Anthony Eden's buddy, Nuri es-Said, right up to
the Baath Party coup of 1968, there was virtually no progress at all.

Iraqi latifundia-the vast country house estates of the tiny privileged
elite-gave large parties for visiting Western guests, including Agatha
Christie's archaeologist husband who did most of his digging in Nineveh,
now known worldwide to TV viewers as Mosul, while the puppet ruling
establishment gave away Iraq's most precious asset, oil, for a song. Iraq's
major export was-hold your Patriot missile-dates, the fruit of the Arab
desert eaten by pious Muslims to break their daylight fast during the
Muslim Lent-Ramadan. India was Iraq's largest buyer.

It was Saddam's revolution that ended Iraqi backwardness. Education,
including higher and technological education, became the top priority. More
important, centuries of vicious discrimination against girls and women was
ended by one stroke of the modernizing dictator's pen.

I used to drive past the Mustansariya University on my way home from
downtown Baghdad. It was miraculous-I use the word advisedly-it was nothing
short of miraculous to see hundreds of girl-students thronging the campus,
none in "burkhas" or "chador"-the head-to-toe black cape that was, and is,
essential dress for women in most of the Islamic world-and almost all in
skirts and blouses that would grace a Western university.

The liberation of women-that is half the population of Iraq, as for any
other country-has been the most dramatic achievement of Saddam's regime. To
understand how dramatic just look across the Iraqi border at America's
once-favorite Arab satrap, Saudi Arabia.

These last few days, watching television footage of President George W.
Bush's fireworks over Baghdad, I have been remembering pretty Samira,
Purchase Officer at the Iraqi Cement Co., with whom India was doing a lot
of business. She was as efficient as she was lovely, with every little
detail at the tips of her delicate fingers. She was also the velvet glove
protecting us from her irascible boss, Managing Director Adnan Kubba, a man
not inclined to treat leniently the many and varied delinquencies of the
Indian business enterprises it was my duty to shepherd into his presence.
Between Samira and me, we got Adnan to warm to India and the Indian
businessmen to mend their ways. It was a great and valued partnership.

Samira's mother and all her female ancestors for centuries could never have
left the cloistered cages of hearth and home. But here she was, under 30,
yet the motor driving the engine of the Iraqi state-owned cement monopoly.
I do not know if Samira is still alive-or buried under the rubble of a
bombed-out Iraqi marketplace. But as U.S. missiles fall nightly on her
neighborhood or her grave, why would she not have at least some gratitude
in her heart for the revolution Saddam brought into her life and those of
her countrywomen, whatever the horrible things he has been doing to keep
his regime going? Has U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld factored the
feelings of Samira into his war plans for the taking of Baghdad?

I think also of the chief engineer at the State Organization for Industrial
Housing, the driving force behind the massive housing program, which turned
Baghdad in the first decade of Baath rule from a dirty shantytown into a
pulsating modern metropolis that provided a roof over the head of every
family in the city.

The chief engineer was a woman. I kick myself for having forgotten her
name. But I remember her well. She was so much like Mama in "Chicago"!
Across the road from SOIH was SOI-State Organization for Industry where my
diplomatic fate obliged me to cross swords with another tough-as-they-come
lady, the head of the Legal Division, without whose OK no bills were paid.
This was the position of women in Iraq under Saddam a quarter century ago.
One had to keep reminding oneself that this was the Middle East..

My second daughter, Yamini, was born in Medical City, Baghdad, symbol of
the astonishing revolution wrought by the Baath Party in health care. My
child's cradle is now a coffin, a purgatory that holds the mangled remains
of Iraqi babies killed by a rain of terror to end a reign of terror. If I,
who lived in Baghdad but two years, and that too as a foreigner and so many
decades ago, feel violated in my deepest sensitivities at what is being
done to my memories of the ordinary Iraqi men, women and children I knew,
consider the feelings of those who have lived all their lives in Iraq, all
those below 40 years of age who have known no Iraq other than the Iraq of
Saddam, and now find everything they have seen grow around them going up in
smoke - for their "liberation!"

Iraq is home to some of the holiest Muslim shrines, fertile ground for
religious fundamentalism. Saddam would have none of it. Clerics were put
firmly in their place-that is, the mosque and the madrasa-and the Iraqi
believer liberated from the thralldom of the priesthood. The ethos was
completely secular: we interacted every day with Iraqis of numerous
religious persuasions in every position of responsibility.

Few know even now that one of Iraq's longest lasting Baath leaders,
companion-in-arms to Saddam for the last four decades, is Tariq Aziz, a
practicing Christian notwithstanding his name. For Indians, there is a
special place in our regard for Saddam who has treated with reverence a
sacred spot in Baghdad where, legend has it, Guru Nanak, the founder of the
Sikh faith in the 16th century, meditated on his way back to India from
Mecca on the imperative of synthesizing Hindu and Muslim beliefs.

Iraq under Saddam had everything going for it-except democracy. And it was,
of course, the absence of democracy that accounted for Saddam brushing
aside all vested interests: his instant liberation of women, his instant
dismantling of feudalism, his instant caging of the priesthood, and,
therefore, his instant-and, yes, brutal-exclusion from Iraq of all forms of
religious fundamentalism and religion-based terrorism. Which is, one thing
at least that Osama bin Laden and Bush II share: they hate Saddam equally.

If Saddam goes, the brutality of the Baath party will finally be ended. But
other things not wonderful either will take its place. There will be a
takeover of civil society by the elements sidelined over four decades of
Baath rule. Therefore, along with democracy, fundamentalism and terrorism
will rear their heads. Samira-if, poor thing, she has not already been
killed-will probably lose many of the privileges which Saddam ensured her.


About the author: Mani Shankar Aiyar is a member of the Indian parliament
representing the Congress Party. His column is published weekly. This
feature originated from the UPI International Desk.

Sunday, April 13, 2003

More on Bollywood and Aishwarya

Great story from the Times of India on the prospects of Bollywood actress's, including Ash, Preity Zinta, Lara Dutta, and Priyanka Chopra, starring opposite Pierce Brosnan in the next Bond Movie. My favorite quote from the piece is one of Julia Roberts saying that Ash is "the most beautiful woman in the world". The article makes it seem like Ash is going to do it. If any of these women are selected, it can only mean good things for Bollywood.

Friday, April 11, 2003

Return of the Massive

I feel like this blog has been panjabimcblog the past couple of months, so I thought I would post this clip from the January 2003 edition of URB magazine. The article is well written, and I think does a good job at describing the feel of the Asian Massive tour. While this article describes the NYC show, I must say the show in DC at the 9:30 club was amazing. Beginning with DJ Sets by Cheb i Sabbah, Karsh Kale, The Midival PunditZ, and Zakhm, the show later too on another element with Karsh on the electric Tablas with Zakhm, the Punditz, and Cheb i Sabbah accompanying on the turntables. It was truly memorable. Another part that was really cool was Cheb i Sabbah's DJ set, as he took the crowd on this crazy journey from Arabia, to India, to Electronica, and then banged it with some Bhangra. The 9:30 club is not really known as a venue for Bhangra or international sounds, and the crowd reflects this. To see this crowd with their hands up, mimicing the movements of farmers from Punjab was pretty neat. Anyway, enjoy the article pasted below. The Asian Massive compilation disc (a really really good mix of continuous Asian-influenced electronic beats) is available on Six Degrees records, and can be purchased from online vendors like

Additionally, look out for Karsh Kale's upcoming album, Liberation, which is being released June 3, 2003.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

More Journalists Killed in Iraq

Yesterday, following last weeks deaths of Michael Kelly and NBC's David Bloom a U.S. tank shell hit a hotel where hundreds of journalists were staying, and a U.S. bomb landed on the office of an Arab television network in the Iraqi capital, killing a total of three journalists and wounding three others. The reason I am posting news Item is that the circumstances behind their deaths raised my eyebrows. The circumstancses are somewhat suspect, with a statement from U.S. Central Command in Qatar indicating that "U.S. forces had fired on the Palestine Hotel -- an 18-story hotel along the Tigris River -- after troops received "significant" enemy fire from there. However, journalists who were standing on balconies of the hotel, taking pictures, said they saw no signs of firing from the hotel before they saw a tank fire from a bridge a little more than a half-mile away. A Ukrainian cameraman, Taras Protsyuk, 35, was killed and three other Reuters employees were wounded. Spanish television network Telecinco said its cameraman, Jose Couso, 37, was hit in the leg and jaw and died after surgery. Across the river to the west, Tareq Ayyoub, a Jordanian correspondent for the Arab television network Al Jazeera, was killed earlier in the day when a U.S. bomb landed on the network's Baghdad office. An Abu Dhabi TV office in the same area was damaged by a round, knocking down a camera, but no one was injured.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, a group that defends press freedoms, demanded an investigation in a letter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. "We believe these attacks violate the Geneva Conventions," the letter said. Even if U.S. forces had been fired on from the Palestine Hotel, "the evidence suggests that the response of U.S. forces was disproportionate and therefore violated international humanitarian law," it said. Severine Cazes, head of the Middle East desk at Paris-based media watchdog Reporters without Borders, said: "It's hard to believe this was just a mistake. We want proof this was not a deliberate attack on journalists." I hope it wasn't a deliberate attack.

Ash "Doin it Way Big"

Apparently Panjabi MC is not the only sub-Continental artist who is going to be crossing over into the mainstream in the coming months. Rumor has it, and so does this report from Sky News, that Bollywood's very own Aishwarya Rai has been offerred a role opposite Pierce Brosnan in the next Bond film. I know that I, in addition to a few million Indian men, would be running to the theatres to check that Bond movie out.

Monday, April 07, 2003

Wall Street Journal on Immigrant Soldiers

I am pasting below another story from the Wall Street Journal April 4 edition discussing Immigrant soldiers. The item that I posted below discusses an Indian-American fighting. Who knew that you could be a non-Citizen and still be in the military?

The Wall Street Journal
April 4, 2003

Immigrant Soldiers

Two Marines killed in Iraq have now been awarded citizenship posthumously.
Surprised that foreign nationals are serving in the U.S. military, and
even doing the fighting and the dying? You shouldn't be.

Jose Gutierrez of Guatemala (profiled here) and Jose Angel Garibay of
Mexico, both from the Los Angeles area, were killed in the opening days of
the war. Shortly before his death, Corporal Garibay wrote a letter to a
former high school teacher explaining why he was willing to go to war: "I
want to defend the country I plan to become a citizen of."

The Marines have a number of foreign nationals in their ranks. Out of a
force of 175,000, 7,331 are not yet citizens of the United States and
5,416 became citizens after enlisting. Hispanics are by far the largest
group -- 3,472 of the non-citizen Marines.

Defense officials estimate there are 31,000 foreign nationals serving in
all the service branches, many of whom are now fighting in the Gulf. And
while polls say 80% of Mexicans do not support this war, the U.S. Embassy
in Mexico City has been swamped with hundreds of requests to enlist in the
U.S. military. Even as American casualties are coming home, there are
plenty of would-be Americans who'd be more than happy to join the fight
for our national security if it means they'd have a chance at living
better lives afterward.

On July 4 last year President Bush signed an executive order expediting
citizen applications for non-Americans serving in the military as of
September 11, 2001. He might want to repeat his order this coming July 4,
after the liberation of Iraq.

The War in Iraq as a Hindu cause?

Here is a story from India Abroad about an Indian-American who is fighting in "Operation Iraqi Freedom." I will paste the text below because India Abroad is not accessible online. As an aside to Mr. Gupta's notion that the war in Iraq is a "Hindu Cause," it is nice to see Indian-Americans participating in the U.S. armed forces, and how immigrants and members of the second generation assimilate into their new country: bringing the ancient traditions of Hinduism into the warfare of the modern era.

Indian American to fight for 'Hindu cause'

Shakti Bhatt in New York | April 04, 2003 09:36 IST

Nishkam Gupta, 21, is not like others of his age, his parents will tell you.
He is currently at Camp Lejeune, serving as a marine reserve. In a few days he
will leave to serve in the war, something that he has wanted to do since he
was 17.

"Since he was very young," said his mother Renu Gupta who runs the Mailboxes
Etc franchise in Cincinnati, Ohio, "he would read the history of India and

"To us he was a walking-talking encyclopaedia on Indian and US politics."

Three years ago, Nishkam approached his parents, asking them to sign a paper
that would allow him to attend a boot camp that summer.

"When we said no, he threatened us," Renu said. "He told us 'If you don't do
it now, I will do it anyway when I am 18.'"

Nishkam attended the camp and made a 6-year commitment with the US military
as a marine reserve. He would dedicate most of his free time working for Hindu
causes, his father, Arun, said. "He is a staunch believer in the cause,"
said Arun, a biochemist who runs a DNA testing lab. "He thinks something should
be done to unite and protect them."

Nishkam's mother said her son refused to go with other soldiers to the
Sunday services. "He demanded to be given his own place so he could follow his own
religion," said Renu, who, at his request, sent him pictures of Indian gods
and goddesses. "So every Sunday, when other marines would go to the church, he
and 2 or 3 other Indians would pray at this special location given to them.

"He made sure that Indians kept their identity even in the US military," she

It was on January 22 that Nishkam was activated for the war. At the time he
was studying mechanical engineering at the University of Cincinnati. While in
college, Nishkam founded the local chapter of Hindu Students Council.

When the call came, Nishkam quickly prepared himself.

When packing his bags, he took only 4 books with him -- the Bhagavad Gita,
the Ramayana, The Hindu Mind by Bansi Pandit, and The Collected Works of Swami

"Every time he calls me from the base," said his mother, "he tells me, 'I
want to fight and I will be unhappy if I am not sent.'"

The parents, who had expressed reluctance at their son's decision, have now

"Nobody likes their son to go to war," said Arun. "But we have no choice but
to support him because this is what he really wants."

"How I rationalise it," said Renu, "is to think of the parents of the
300,000 soldiers that are already fighting. Then I feel selfish if I think about

"But I know that once he leaves, my heart will be beating all the time."

For Nishkam, it is more than a war to 'liberate the Iraqis', as stated by
the Bush administration. According to his parents, it is part of his desire to
fight the larger war against terrorism, a war that would directly benefit
Hinduism and its cause.

"Even though he was born here, he has a special place for India," said the
mother. "He strongly believes that the war will also serve India.

"He said that is the beginning for a much bigger, much more important war."

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Jay-Z Explains his Remix of Beware of the Boys
I know I haven't been leaving this topic alone even though I said I would, but I just found the whole scoop on the Jay-Z Panjabi MC collaboration. The fact this track is getting so much airplay makes me kinda proud, that a south asian diaspora track can be successful in Britain and America is really exciting.

My friends and I were just yesterday trying to igure out how "The Roc" managed to catch up with PMC, and I have pasted below the snippet from It turns out Jay-Z heard PMC's original "mundian to bach ke" while in Switzerland and then remixed his anti-war wrap over the track. PMC's original track will be released in the states as a single on Sequence Records (if you click on the link, the website has mundian to bach ke streaming), a week after Jay-Z's Blueprint 2.1 comes out. Read below for more...

"Jay-Z has broken his silence about the U.S.-led coalition's war with Iraq. In the remix of European artist Panjabi MC's overseas hit "Beware of the Boys," Jay mixes his Brooklyn braggadocio with anti-war sentiments. "We rebellious, we back home/ Screamin' 'Leave Iraq alone,' " Young Hova rhymes over a sample of the theme from the "Knight Rider" TV show. "For all my soldiers in the field/ I will wish you safe return/ But only love kills war/ When will they learn?" I guess this means the track that will be released on Jay-Z's new album has a different verse than the one currently making the club/radio circuit, which in my opinion, leaves something to be desired.

"It's all good," Panjabi MC said Tuesday from London about Jay's flavoring of the remix. "Originally this track was about something [different]. The track has become more of symbolic vibe of how it's crossed over to the East and West markets." Translated, Panjabi MC's lyrics, which are sung in Punjabi, are a warning to a 16-year-old girl to be leery of guys who are trying to take her innocence. "Be careful of the boys/ You've only just grown up./ It's not your fault that you've got beautiful eyes/ Once you've realized this, you will become shy/ Look after your youth/ This time won't come again."

Jay and Panjabi were hooked up through their managers after Jay became aware of the track on a recent trip to Switzerland. "He heard the song three or four months ago when this thing started blowing up in Europe," Panjabi MC remembered. "On the radio, in the clubs [and] even on the underground out here, it's been blowing up. He seen the reaction to it and wanted to get involved. He jumped on, basically." The original and the Jay-Z remix of "Beware of the Boys" will be sold in U.S. stores as a single on April 15. A week prior, Jay-Z will put out The Blueprint 2.1, setting off a bevy of Roc-a-Fella releases that will carry on through the summer (see "Jay-Z Cutting Away The Fat And Releasing Blueprint 2.1").

There is also a little item about this in Rolling Stone Magazine and the Jamaican Observer.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Gratuitous Self Promotion

Yeah, I had to do it, I don't like doing it, but well, it is my blog, so I will blog what I want to. If you are interested at all in the music of the British Asian Underground, the American Asian Massive, Asian Drum and Base, or anything that is close to being in this genre, you must check out the ethnotechno site. Not only does is it a really wicked online radio, but they also have online interviews and music reviews. Now this is where the self-promotion comes in. Two of my reviews can be found on this site, if you are so inclined to look for them. The first, is a review of Amar's Outside, the solo album from the singer on Talvin Singh's Anokha album. And the second is of the recently released, Rough Guide to the Asian Underground, a compilation of released and previously unreleased material from the British Asian Underground (including tracks by the Asian Dub Foundation, Joi, and Talvin Singh).

Hindus in India Criticize Bush

Todays Washington Post story, for some reason lumps all Hindus together as one voting bloc. While it be interesting if all Hindus in India voted as one, this is not the case. Nor is it that all Hindus think this war is good, or bad. While I am all for berating the Hindu right in India, Mr. Lancaster's piece does more than just convey, as the WP purports, how the world perceives the war in Iraq. The piece also serves as a social commentary on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, and in general the Sangh Parivar groups, and how they are against Bush. My criticism aside, I think John Lancaster's piece is worth a read, feven only because it shows that all Hindus, despite belonging to a certain ideology, are not totally anti-Muslim. I am excerpting part of the article below.

Several in the group saw evidence of American hypocrisy. They wondered why, if Saddam Hussein is so bad, the United States doesn't mete out the same punishment to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, whom they accuse of sponsoring Islamic militants in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir. Still, Jha, the ad salesman, said he could find no fault with the war coverage on Pakistan's government-run television news channel, which comes to him via cable. He was watching it this morning, he said, during a discussion of the suicide bombing that killed four U.S. soldiers at a checkpoint on Saturday. He said he agreed with the commentators, who described the attack as reasonable under the circumstances. "This is a war," he said. "This was not a terrorist attack." Someone switched on the television and tuned it to the BBC, which was showing footage of wounded children in the southern Iraqi city of Basra. Arora had no doubt about who was responsible. "Isn't this a human rights violation?" he asked, anger tinging his voice. "America has no right to kill civilians."