Friday, August 15, 2003

Is Brown the New Black

Interesting article from the UK's Guardian written by desi Vivek Chaudhary. The article entitled, "The big bhangra," discusses the rise in Britain of not only Panjabi MC, but producers like Rishi Rich, and his artists Juggy D, and Jay Sean, but more significantly the strides these people are making in the music industry for South Asians, and South Asian sound. While PMC has had tremendous cross-over success with Mundian to Bach Ke, Rishi Rich has been producing mainstream artists tracks for some time. Having worked with Britney Spears, Craig David, Ricky Martin, and been summoned by JLo's camp, in addition to Mary J Blige, it seems that Brown is the new black in Hip-Hop.

"The buzz in the music industry is that bhangra and indeed other forms of Asian music are hot, and, at last, record executives and non-Asian music fans are waking up to the potential of the music. Panjabi MC managed to have a top-five hit with Beware of the Boys, a song that he first released five years ago when it was ignored outside the Asian community. The irony is that 90% of those who bought the record did not even understand the lyrics, but leading artists, particularly from the world of hip-hop and R&B have been queuing up to work with Panjabi MC. Rishi Rich has been attracting similar interest. Not only has he been asked to produce Britney and Ricky Martin, but also Mary J Blige, J-Lo, and Mis-Teeq. On the blistering hot day when we meet, though, Rishi and his team have just been putting the finishing touches to his own single, Dance with You, which is due for release in early September. All three young Asians were born and brought up in west London, and between them have brought different skills and musical ability to the recording studio. Twenty-two-year-old Juggy D is more in the mould of a traditional Punjabi vocalist, while Sean, also 22, is a rapper and R&B singer. Bringing their sound and talent together is Rich, something of a veteran of the British Asian music scene at a mere 26 years. Rich has spent the best part of his career mixing traditional Asian music with soul, hip-hop and R&B and, until now, getting little notice or praise for it. Like his two colleagues, Rich's career has been littered with industry knock-backs as mainstream record executives appeared to have little time or enthusiasm for his music. Rich recalls meetings with executives who told him that songs in languages other than English would not sell, while Jay Sean recalls not being taken seriously because he is an Asian who raps. It is at this point that Sean grabs the microphone and performs You Don't Know Me, which he says he sings for all journalists and record industry executives and, he claims, best sums up the way they feel they've been treated by the industry. "Now the Asian scene is the place to be/ Ever since Goodness Gracious Me graced the scene/ What with Missy, Truth Hurtz and Redman having a taste/ We've even got the Kumars dancing with Gareth Gates."

To read the full article, click here.


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