Thursday, November 17, 2005

Lolita Was a Man Eatah..and other music news

URB Artist of the Year- - Mathangi

Its been awhile since I have posted on MIA, and since I know you all have been waiting with baited breath, here goes. URB Magazine contributor Scott Sterling informed us late last month that Miss MIA, aka Mathangi 'Maya' Arulpragasam has been named URB magazine's artist of the year. I am not really surprised, are you? No, it isn't that she is desi, I just can't think of one other artist that has been as innovative and influential this year. MIA's music has been everywhere, from SXSW and Central Park to a Honda commercial and the O.C., and her influence is easily seen in the resurgence of electro-pop in the mainstream: drum machines and synthetic beats all intertwined with elements of various international flavors and hip-hop. Its not that hip-hop his dead, but it is almost as if MIA has added to this new genre of post Hip-Hop. Music with a message, but with danceable, stranger, hip-hop like beats . This sound has been kickinng around the indy hipster scene for awhile--look at bands like Supersystem on Touch and Go, and LCD Soundsystem. This trend seems to now be making its way slowly towards the mainstream. One of the first indicators, Madonna's latest release, Confessions on a Dance Floor. Scott has promised us he would be posting the full cover story soon. Here is a link to my first post on her here.

me the the scoop on how DJ Quik found the sample of Kaliyon Ka Chaman, for the first big hip hop record featuring a desi sample. Yeah, I am talking about Truth Hurts featuring Rakim's--Addictive [click here for a sample] from 2002.

Now I had heard the beginning, that DJ Quik was watching tv, and all of a sudden he found himself watching Zee TV and heard this rhythm and had to tape it. Anyway, here is DJ Quik's take on it (from the forthcoming URB article)

"Some Indian people are still mad at me for that song, because they thought that it bastardized their culture. I've had Pakistani people interview me that are so standoffish it's almost disrespectful. They are authentically pissed off about that record. I was watching this Bollywood channel that popped up on our cable service called Zee TV and I saw some dope shit going on. I recorded it onto my VCR, dubbed it down to a mini disc, put it into a drum machine and (BT Express') "Do It 'Til You're Satisfied" just went right through it --they both had that Panjabi rhythm. I put it on tape and gave the track to Dre. He thought it was some innovative shit and had Truth do her vocals and mixed it. So who was the real producer? I wasn't even in the studio when Dre produced the song. He didn't have to throw me a bone and give me full production credit, but he did. It started a little trend. I heard Tim doing it, Erick Sermon. Even the people that sued us had to admit the shit was hot."
First things first, what is DJ Quik doing subscribing to Zee TV? Not that non-South Asians shouldn't watch desi channels, but I thought the only way you can get Zee is by subscribing to it off of the Dish Network. I wonder if he is down with Bollywood. I bet he is down with TMBWITW. Secondly, if Dr. Dre was going to be so generous and give Quik a production credit, why not throw Bappi Lahiri a bone and give him some credit as well. And lastly, I don't know that people are mad that Quik and Dre took the beat, because, I have to admit, it was hot, but I do know there are some out there who are angry that they let Truth sing on the track. Her vocals ruined it. Ouch, my ears just started to hurt, thinking about the end of Addictive, you know the part where she tries to do that Qawwali type thing, trying to match Lata's range. Truth is Truth Hurts is just never going to come out a winner against Lata Mangeshkar.

And in the last bit of desi music news, New York's Finest, Jay Dabhi, (yeah, formerly known as Lil Jay), his remix of Hisham Abbas' "Nari Narien" will be featured in Xbox's Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix 3 video game by Konami.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

A South Asian Bess

I can hear what you are saying, "South Asians and Opera," or, "We know Bollywood, but Opera, real singing?" All I can say is Yes, South Asians and Opera, it exists. Soprano Indira Mahajan is making her debut with the Washington National Opera, in its production of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, playing the lead female, Bess. This is the final week of the show which is playing at the Kennedy Center, and has been receiving reviews, which seem to be mostly positive [link via DCist] thus far. For those of you that don't know, here is a bit more about Porgy and Bess...

"Welcome to Catfish Row. In this poignant tale of love found and lost, the disabled beggar Porgy wins the beautiful but troubled Bess from her macho thug boyfriend Crown only to lose her to "happy dust" and the bright lights of New York."

This isn't even close to Mahajan's first big-time performance, and I am a little surprised we hadn't heard too much of her until now, although I guess opera circles are a bit different than ones many of us belong to. Here is some more on Mahajan from her bio...

Acclaimed for her portrayal of Musetta, she appeared in the Opera Omaha production of La bohème conducted Hal France and returned to Dallas Opera in the Garnett Bruce production which was conducted by Claus Peter Flor. Recognizing her command of the role, the soprano was invited to perform "Quando me'n vo" in the prestigious Richard Tucker Gala at Lincoln Center. Having performed Mimi for the first time in the Dayton Opera production, Miss Mahajan was invited to repeat the role at Royal Albert Hall marking her opera debut in the United Kingdom. The production was directed by three-time Olivier award-winning director Francesca Zambello and conducted by David Parry. Following her debut, Miss Mahajan was recognized for her "substantial voice" in The London Sunday Times. She will reprise the role at Royal Albert Hall in spring 2006.
To hear an mp3 of what the South Asian Soprano sounds like, click here. Sadly, for those of you wanting to see one of the remaining shows of Porgy and Bess, it seems three nights have already sold out (11/15, 11/18, 11/19), so if you are interested, grab your tickets quickly.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Fire, Fire Pa

The New York Daily News reports today of one Karnail Singh, a Queens, NY resident who is currently recovering in Weill Cornell Medical Center's burn unit since being seriously burned on October 28. How was he burned, you ask? Well, he hasn't been convicted or anything, but it turns out Singh, 48 apparently set himself on fire while trying to set a deathtrap for his daughter-in-law by torching her basement apartment. The cause of his anger (according to fire officials): Singh claimed his daughter-in-law wasn't sending money to his son in India. Oh, and he also also accused her of seeing other men. Thankfully Singh's daughter-in-law Gurpreet Kaur, was rescued unharmed by firefighters who had to cut through metal bars on a basement window to get her out. In a weird twist of fate, as Singh was fleeing, he mistakenly set himself on fire. What goes around, perhaps really does come around.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Squat Like a Hindu

    Hindu Squatting
    When I was younger, I would inadvertently get into trouble for a many number of things, teasing my younger cousin, not coming home when my mom would call for me (picture an Indian aunty in suburban central Pennsylvania standing outside the front door of her house, screaming for me (in my embarrassing nickname) to come home like she was still in Ahmedabad), or for jacking that extra blow-pop. Like all kids, I knew I would get in trouble, but I did it anyway because it was fun. What wasn't fun was the punishment. We called them "Ootbes", which translates into stand (oot) sit (bes) and as an added incentive, we had to hold our ears while we did it, thereby looking like a robotic monkeys, doing weird squats. Thanks to tipster, Nalina, I learned that I was not alone in having to do these. While some in the West have found yoga to be great excercise, others have discovered the Ootbes or Bethak, and renamed it the "Hindu squat." It seems "Politically Incorrect Fitness & Fighting" instructor Matt Furey is using the Hindu Squat, and even the Hindu push-up (also known as downward facing dog in yoga circles) as conditioning exercises for weight loss and as a technique for building muscle. From Furey's website..
    Hindu squats (bethaks) are an exercise, like Hindu pushups (dands), that have been used by Indian wrestlers for centuries to build explosive lower body strength, power, speed and endurance. Can you get stronger doing this so-called "free hand" leg exercise while also staying away from barbell and dumbbell squats? Absolutely. Can you develop greater muscle mass with this bodyweight exercise? Again, absolutely. The Great Gama of India was 5'7" and 260 pounds of streaming steal, with thighs so heavily muscled they resemble the proverbial "tree stumps." Legend has it that Gama of India, who never lost once in 5000 matches, did 4,000 bethaks or Hindu squats each day. These numbers are grossly inflated - but the fact of the matter is that Gama did do this exercise daily and he was unstoppable.
    Google search results for Hindu Squat, Google search results for Hindu Pushup