Monday, November 24, 2003

Trilok Gurtu, Panjabi MC nominated for BBC awards

More Accolades for Panjabi MC, and Poor Journalism

This story from indicates that Panjabi MC, along with Trilok Gurtu (others nominated are Cesaria Evora, Cheb Khaled, and Bob Brozman) have been nominated for 2004 BBC Radio 3 World Music Awards. In this story, written by "Blind Melon," it is stated that PMC's Mundian to Bach Ke was ignored by mainstream radio in the UK, and that it only surged to popularity after a New York hip-hop label reissued it early in 2003.

Well, that is completely wrong. Mundian to Bach Ke charted at number 5 on the mainstream British Charts, and actually, the song's success in London and the rest of Europe led to its re-release five years later in 2003. Had it not been so popular in Europe, Jay-Z would have never heard the track, and the New York record label (Sequence Records) would never have agreed to distribute it.

This brings me to another issue, and this is something that has been blogged about in many desi blogs recently, the subject of accuracy in the South Asian Media.

When Indian-American activist Narayan Keshavan passed away ten days ago after appearing on the Lou Dobbs show, some Indian media rushed, and wrongly stated in their obituaries of him that Keshavan had won a Pulitzer. Most would think details like this would be fact checked by an editor of some sort.

Additionally, if is trying to be a news source of repute, why allow columnists and other contributors to write under the name of Blind Melon, or other pen names? I think it subtracts from your credibility as much as when the byline reads "By Our Correspondent."

I use to think very highly of the Indian media, and for the most part know there are quite good papers/magazines in the sub-continent. I think that a few of these media outlets are giving a bad reputation to a group that is on the whole quite decent. I hope that is the case anyway.

Monday, November 17, 2003

New CD's: Oops! It’s Album Time Again, Britney

Praise for Rishi Rich in the NY Times

In this review of Britney Spears' In The Zone, which releases tomorrow, the New York Times has this to say of Rishi Rich's Desi Kulcha Mix:

"Throughout the disc, Ms. Spears sounds more dazed than zoned, as if making it clear that she's a less-than-willing participant. Her befuddlement becomes obvious within the first few seconds, when she whispers: "It's just me against the music. It's just me." Madonna pipes up to correct her, "And me." Ms. Spears responds, sounding a bit distracted, "Yeah."

This exchange introduces "Me Against the Music," Ms. Spears's duet with Madonna. It's an odd, overstuffed track, not so much a song as a series of party chants, and in his excellent "Desi Kulcha Remix," Rishi Rich eliminates the melody entirely, adding a clattering backbeat and what the liner notes describe as "Punjabi shouts." It's so frenetic you barely notice Ms. Spears and Madonna — it's odd to hear two such ubiquitous figures sounding so anonymous.

I'm not sure I know what "Punjabi Shouts are," but nonetheless, I am glad Rich's remix is getting some recognition. Also, I don't know if anyone caught the American Music Awards yesterday, but I think Britney performed the Desi Kulcha version of "Me Against the Music," on the show.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Panjabi MC and Beyonce

Just heard the Bobby Fricition and Nihal show, and they are featuring a Panjabi MC remix, apparently on Columbia records, for Beyonce Knowles' "Me, Myself, and I." The tune is really catchy, but not what you would typically expect from PMC. It isn't Bhangra, there isn't any real sampling, no tumbi'. In fact, the tune is is slow-jam, and more desi-inspired than anything else, but I like the sound of it, and I think it shows PMC's diversity and ability to work with different styles of music.

I wonder if the Jay-Z-PMC collabo influenced the Beyonce-PMC collaboration?

Friday, November 14, 2003

Aishwarya out of The Rising :

Aishwarya Rai...Out of The The Rising?

According to this story in the Hindustan Times Bollywood bombshell Aishwarya Rai has bowed out of the colonial-era epic, The Rising, which gained some international publicity this month when Prince Charles set the camera rolling, during his recent visit to India. Rai has been replaced by Amisha Patel, who will play the female lead opposite Aamir Khan for the film about the 1857 uprising against British rule in India, producer Bobby Bedi said.

"She (Rai) wanted to renegotiate the contract with us after signing the deal. This was not acceptable and therefore we broke the deal on Thursday," Bedi said. Shooting will go ahead on January 6 near Pune, he added. Bedi said he did not expect Rai's departure to affect the fortunes of the film, noting that his 1994 Bandit Queen about Phoolan Devi was successful without well-known actors. "I don't think the movie will be affected as Aamir will be there," Bedi said. "A film is bigger than individuals working in the film and stars are not a very important aspect of film making," he added.

I am really disappointed, one because it seems as if Aishwarya was trying to renegotiate an already done deal, and secondly because I don't think Amisha Patel is as good of a acress, nor as appealing to the eye, as Ash. I agree with Bedi though, Amir Khan is as much of a draw, if not more than Aishwarya Rai.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

JS Online: School suspends teen for rap lyric

School Suspends Desi-Teen for Rap Lyric (Via Suman Palit)

According to this story from The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 15 year old Sashwat Singh, a junior at Brookfiled Central High School, has been given a five-day suspension because of a 32 minute 14-track rap cd he wrote and recorded. The lyrics were deemed threatening towards the principal, and reference illegal drug use and explicit sexual acts according to the news story?

I wonder if anyone told Eminem that making a CD with such content could get you suspended from school?

School administrators called the disc, which includes a song about the principal, Mark Cerutti, and conditions at the school, "gross disobedience or misconduct," an offense on par with making a bomb threat, bringing guns to school and arson. Singh's suspension may mark the first time a high school student in Wisconsin has been removed from school for a song he'd written, said Ken Cole, the executive director of the Madison-based Wisconsin Association of School Boards. Cole said a threat couched in music made outside school "isn't a matter of all in good sport or fun. If some incident occurs a month from now, someone will say, 'You knew back then.' We have to treat every incident very seriously."

But I don't think making a CD is on par with bringing a gun to school, arson, or any sort of violent crimes. I think it is more of an excercise in free speech than anything else. I understand the concern for the potential for danger, especially after Columbine, but I don't think a five-day suspension is going to deter a child who wants to commit such acts from doing them.

A member of the school's band and choir who is enrolled in Advanced Placement and honors courses, Singh recorded and made the album with equipment on his home computer. Then, a month ago, he sold two copies to classmates and gave away three others. One of the copies landed in Cerutti's hands, and Oct. 29, the principal suspended Singh for five days. School has been dismissed on three days during that time, making Tuesday the first day Singh can return to school. But Singh's father, Dilip Singh, said he couldn't understand why his son was given the school's harshest penalty.The other offenses "have to do with drugs and guns," Dilip Singh said. "When you look at what he did and compare one to the other, it doesn't make sense."

Sashwat Singh insisted the lyrics weren't meant as a threat, but "just random words that rhymed. I didn't think I had done anything wrong."

The vulgar lyrics suggest that if Cerutti doesn't get out of Brookfield, Singh will "beat your ass down." Singh, a Brookfield Central junior, also uses a slew of sexually explicit slurs to describe Cerutti.

Sashwat Singh said his parents "weren't as mad as I thought they would be."

"I don't approve of that kind of language," Dilip Singh said.

Dilip Singh said he has yet to listen to the entire disc but did read the text of the lyrics.

The Satya Circle

The Return of The Satya Circle

I know it has been a long time since the last update, but I wanted to reassure all the fans of The Satya Circle that the website will be updated shortly. I believe another issue of the e-zine will be posted on their website ( Thanksgiving. So update your links, keep your eyes open, and stay tuned for more updates.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Big Up Rishi Rich

Rishi Rich's Desi Kulcha Mix makes it on "In the Zone."

(image from

Usually when a Desi artist remixes a song for a mainstream artist, the most he/she can hope for is having the remix appear on the single. The Panjabi Hit Squad have remixed numerous artists (Mariah Carey, Ashanti to name a few), and those remixes are hard to find in America, as they usually only appear on the single that is sold in the UK. Well everyone knew that Rishi Rich was producing a Desi Kulcha Mix for Britney Spear's new album, and attesting to his talent, his remix is appearing on her full length album entitled, "In the Zone." You can see the tracklistings and listen to the remix by clicking here.

I think this is another large step forward for Desi sounds in mainstream America. I know many of you think that this sound is getting played out, sampled out, or just over-hyped. But it isn't just Bhangra anymore. In fact, I think that Desi sounds are coming at American audiences in very different directions. You have people like Panjabi MC and Panjabi Hit Squad who brings UK Bhangra-hop, a mix of Bhangra and hip-hop, Raje Shwari, Mira Veda (via Om Malik), Reshma, and other Desi Females, who are bringing the sultry Hindi-Hop vocals, you have the Nitin Sawhney's, the Cheb i Sabbah's, the Karsh Kale's, and the Talvin Singh's who are making classical Indian sounds accessible for modern ears, the A.R Rahman's who are bringing straight musical genius and scoring to movies and the theatre, and you have the likes of a Rishi Rich who are indi-popping American popular music. Like the motto says "Desi's in All Directions."

Incidentally, an interview/review that I wrote of Cheb i Sabbah's As Far As can be found in this month's Mantram Magazine. Next month's issue will have my article/interview with Rishi Rich. It is free to see it online, you just have to register, but I think everyone should go out and subscribe to the print version of Mantram.

Friday, November 07, 2003

Indian Flute Video

I just checked out the video for Timbaland and Magoo (featuring Sebastian) Indian Flute, from First of all, I was impressed that they represented India in the the video, even if it was just images of the Taj, stone sculptures, and and some South Asian females (but no Raje Shwari). The Negatives of the video from y first impression, Raje Shwari is nowhere to be found on the credits or the video, and I was disappointed to see the typical genre-bending belly dancers.

Overall, the video was cool, and I think it tried to bring the Mumbai Beer-bar vibe, because it had that whole harem feel to it. If you want to see the video, click here.

I am really wondering what happenned to Raje, and why she wasn't represented at all on the video. It kind of reminds me of the controversey that occurred back in the early 1990's when C and C music factory (I think) had some skinny girl, replace the actual singer, in the video. Timbaland replaced Raje with some random Indian girl, that did not seem to be Raje. I hope she didn't get legally taken advantage of by him or his camp because if she wasn't on this track, or the other South Asian influences ones, those songs would be nothing.


I saw Timbaland and Magoo on MTV's Direct Efx last night. Timbaland, when asked about the concept of the song/video Indian Flute, said he wanted to do something different than having the typical Spanish whisperings of sweet nothings to the rapper. Instead, he wanted to have Indian (Hindi) whisperings of sweet nothings in the video. Well, Timbaland didn't use exactly those words, but that is what he was referring to. Also, Tim was saying how he wanted his record label (beatclub) to not soley focus on hip-hop and rap, and that in fact, he wanted to make it more universal and produce World Albums, Pop Albums, and Country Albums. But disappointingly, no mention of Raje, in the credits or anywhere. Also, there was no credit given to Sebastian, who is also featured in the video.

I wonder if that is why Raje Shwari left? Maybe Tim wanted her to do a world album, and she wanted to do more of a hip-hop thing. I know there is a lot of speculation, and a lot of people are sick of hearing about this, but I think Raje should make a statement clarifying things, at least on her website, so that those who are following her, and supporting her, know what is going on.

And the Winner is... Panjabi MC

I just wanted to "big-up" and congratulate Rajinder Rai, aka Panjabi MC on his winning of a European Music Award for Best Dance Act for his five-year-old, yet groundbreaking mainstream hit, "Mundian to Bach Ke, (Beware of the Boys)."

Boast Post... I was on CNN!

Just a note of caution before you read any further--coming up is egregious self promotion. I was interviewed about the documents the Archive published, in particular this document, with regards to my work on the Taliban.

The interview ran last night on Wolf Blitzer's show, and I was informed, will be running again today at 11 and 2 P.M. EDT. I am only on the segment for like 10 seconds, but the whole experience was quite surreal, and yes, fun. Its weird because I watch CNN and other news shows like it. So to arrive, be taken through a green room, be mic'ed, given the earpiece, and then see yourself in front of the faux backdrop of the Washington D.C. skyline--it was just kind of rad.

Anyway, the last bit of self promotion is this corresponding article that CNN has on their website on the document.

Now, back to blogging on non-self promoting items.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Desi Family Featured in VW Commercial

I don't know if any of you watched the second installment of Fox's 24 this past Tuesday, but it appeared that the Volkswagen Commercial that aired, at least on the East Coast, during the show featured a South Asian family. I know this migh be nitpicky, but for a car company especially, to feature South Asians as a marketing tool, that is quite impressive.

Maybe Volkswagen is trying to inch in on Honda and Toyota's grasp of the South Asian-American market. If anyone else saw this, or has seen it before, let me know. | Broadcast | Friction to pick C4's Bollywood Star

Radio One Desi DJ Bobby Friction to Pick Next Bollywood Star

According to this story in the Guardian BBC Radio 1 DJ Bobby Friction, whose radio show with DJ Nihal is broadcast on Radio 1 in the early Saturday Morning timeslot, is going to be the Desi Simon Cowell and tell wannabe musicians what they do not want to hear.

Friction, along with Bally Sagoo, and Anthony van Laast, the choreographer of Bombay Dreams, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Jesus Christ Superstar will burst into the nation's living rooms on prime time TV next year, on the forthcoming Channel 4 reality TV show Bollywood Star. The show will pit potential movie stars against each other for the prize of a Bollywood movie deal. Auditions held in December will pick 20 hopefuls who can dance in the Bollywood style - using a mix of bhangra and hip hop moves - and lip-synch their way through songs in English and Hindi. In January six finalists will travel to Mumbai to learn the art of Bollywood acting and dancing and be groomed by costume designers and stylists before working with movie director Karan Johar.

Friction and Nihal (whose show I sware by) won a Sony gold award, the radio equivalent of an Oscar, earlier this year for their program, which is broadcast from 3am to 5am on Saturdays and showcases a diverse selection of South Asian beats.

I don't know if this would work in America, but I think it is a fantastic idea for the UK.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

The Globe and Mail

Daler Mehndi...On the Run?

According to this story from Canada's The Globe and Mail, famed Bhangra-pop star Daler Mehndi, who is under investigation for using his music touring as a front for visa scams, has skipped out on bail. I can't see him getting too far, or not being recognized, especially because, you know, he is the self-proclaimed ''Boss of Indipop," but still this is quite interesting.

From the article:

Teams of police were dispatched yesterday to hunt for the pop singer after he failed to show up for a New Delhi court appearance. He is at the centre of a people-smuggling investigation that traces back to Canada, where one of his co-accused has surfaced. Mr. Mehndi's problems began in September when an Indian villager told police that the pop star and his brother had reneged on a promise to provide him with a Canadian visa in exchange for cash. Mr. Mehndi is one of the genre's established stars, with hit songs including Punjabi, Hindi and English lyrics. "Cool daddy keep quiet," he sings in Dig Dig Daisy.

Last week, Mr. Mehndi allowed Indian police to interrogate him, but complained he was made to pull down his trousers so police could check for a birthmark on his thigh. Although the singer later described that treatment as "inhuman," he said he obliged when police asked him to sing some of his hits during questioning. Mr. Mehndi denied wrongdoing and he was released on interim bail last week. But yesterday a judge rejected further bail and told lawyers that Mr. Mehndi should quickly return for another court appearance. The accused was not in court and police say they have begun hunting for him.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Jhatka Jivers

First Bhangra, Now Bollywood?

According to this story from the Indian Express Bollywood ishtyle dancing is becoming Britain's latest Indian fad.

"They warm-up with K3G’s Suraj Hua Madhham playing in the background. And the ladies start to really roll as Kaanta Laga, Mere Naseeb and other raunchy Hindi remixes fill up the hall. What’s new here is that the grooving women are all British! Which, in fact, is no longer a surprising sight in London, where Bollywood dancing has become the latest craze after the movies. The recent influx of Bollywood and Asian music in the UK have Britishers so hooked that a rising number of them are thronging to Bollywood dance classes that are mushrooming in London. At £4 an hour, a wide cross-section of Britishers and Indians attend weekly classes held in Indian-dominated areas such as Southhall, Harrow, Redbridge, Ruislip and Hounslow. ‘‘It’s trendy, it’s cool and the bottomline is—all that’s Indian is in!’’ quips 40-year-old Gujarat-born dance instructor Jayesh Kumar Solanki aka Jay Kumar, who adds, ‘‘Madonna immortalised the bindi and henna. The British media too has been in on the Indian theme. The music then came along quite naturally.’’

‘‘I love the colours. I love the music,’’ says 45-year-old teacher Elane Honey, who’s been taking dance lessons for five weeks now. ‘‘The dances in Monsoon Wedding captivated me."

‘‘How do those Bollywood stars do it?! While I can’t do it, it’s fun trying,’’ Jennifer Woods says with a wink.

Says Jay Kumar, ‘‘After all, when people hear Panjabi MC in nightclubs, they want to know some steps they can dance to.’’

Incidentally, Panjabi MC has been nominated for a European Music Award, (MTV Europe's version of the VMA's) in the Best Dance category. If his Mundian to Bach Ke had enough power to make it to the top 5 on the British charts almost five years after being released, I think he has the award in the bag.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Telegraph | Arts

Panjabi Hit Squad's Desi Beats Named Record of the Week by the Telegraph (UK)

The Telegraph (UK) has a nice review in the paper this week of of the Panjabi Hit Squad's Desi Beats album comparing the foursome to Massive Attack and the Specials.

From the article:

"What's so exciting about fusing traditional Asian music and modern idioms such as hip-hop and dancehall reggae is that the resulting concoction is at once utterly contemporary yet timeless. The Asian form bhangra is a rural sound that has developed over hundreds of years, primarily as a means of celebrating the harvest. Along with the other UK Asian artists featured on Desi Beats Volume 1, Panjabi Hit Squad use it to dazzling effect, both as an embellishment and a backbone for music of striking beauty and excitement.

There's a song here, Nahin Jeena by Londoner Rishi Rich, that, despite being sung primarily in Panjabi, is such a brilliant, uplifting piece of pop music that in a just world it would be Number One for months. Elsewhere, the Hit Squad's own Nachle is three minutes of pure drama, a driving rhythmic pulse woven through with impassioned Bollywood declamation.

The Def Jam label may have hedged their bets in releasing this compilation, rather than a proper PHS studio album. But new listeners get a snapshot of this blossoming scene, plus the best of the other worlds with which it works in tandem. For all concerned, it's a winner."

New York Daily News - City News - Marathon a run for ages

92 Year Old British Sikh to Run New York City Marathon

Amazing. All I can say is amazing. This story from the New York Daily News was passed along through the SAJA listserv and describes the story of Mr. Fauja Singh, a 92 year old British Sik, who is running his sixth marathon.

"The slender nonagenarian will make his New York City Marathon debut today, running - yes, running - alongside tens of thousands for 26.2 miles on what is expected to be an unusually warm fall day.

"Other people my age are hobbling around with sticks," Singh said yesterday. "I am blessed with the ability to do this."

"I actually owe it to the grace of God to allow me to do such things," Singh said.

Wearing a yellow turban and with a Union Jack flag as a cape, the bearded British Sikh said he is using the marathon to promote understanding of Sikh culture. Best of luck Mr. Singh!