Whether its fashion, cooking or even music, fusion is the name of the game these days. And when it comes to fusing hip hop and rap with Indian music, then a name that comes to mind is Desi Hustlers.
Behind this band are two brothers Manpreet Singh and Gora Singh, with a penchant for hip-hop and rap music. They have been rocking the clubs in India and are pushing the envelope with their take on Punjabi music. This week, the duo was in Lahore, for a tour of the local schools. The Express Tribune spoke to the Desi Hustlers on the growing trend of Indian hip hop music.
When asked how they gained fame and made their way into the hearts of the Indian public, the versatile Punjabi singer of the band Manpreet stated, “Young people are looking for ways to break away from their usual nine to five, five-day work weeks. Naturally, when they get a chance, they hit the clubs in Goa or Mumbai. Since weekends are always fully-packed, clubs are constantly looking for big artists. This has opened up a market for acts like us in India.”
But that’s probably not the only reason why they’ve made it big. The brothers come from a lineage of talented musicians. Their father Shamsher Singh is a Punjabi singer and his brother is none other than Punjabi dance legend Daler Mehndi. The two brothers have been working under the tutelage of their father but recently decided to form Desi Hustlers, in order to foray into the growing market for fusion music in India.
On what seems to be the pulse of Bollywood these days, Manpreet said, “Fusion and Punjabi rap music are ruling Bollywood. Take for instance, Snoop Dogg or Akon coming to Bollywood and recording songs for the industry.”
He added that the dynamics of the burgeoning Indian film industry, which is looking to attain a global sound, are quickly changing. He added that listeners want faster, upbeat music compared to the traditional music of yesteryear. Faster beats have always been part and parcel of classical bhangra, especially the dhol which always made people dance with its loud beat.
When it comes to the bands’ music, especially their single, “Paisa, Paisa”, it embodies traditional gangster rap with all the extravagance and in-your-face lyrics. Despite the duo being an unsigned band, they’ve released a single called “Daroo” which is a quintessential club track that features the band alongside singer Kellie.
While Manpreet does the singing, a lot of the writing credits go to Gora who can quickly switch between languages when he raps or writes lyrics. Although the band has not decided when they will release their debut album, it will definitely be on the hip-hop and rap side of music.
On the changing dynamics, Gora said, “There are rap battles that are now occurring in the major cities and last year I got the opportunity to judge one.” As a lyricist, Gora feels that rap music is a form of expression which is why it can be varied and can feature in fast as well as classical tracks.
Regarding penning controversial lyrics, he said, “Writing is a very personal process and most of the time the lyrics are about the rapper’s life. This is why lyrics are sometimes abrasive or uncensored.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2012.
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