Bhangra in the UK

Dateline: 05/29/98

One of the remarkable things about the World Music genre is that often music from a particular culture or language is created or performed in a country other than the country of the music's, or the artist's, origin. This is especially true with the Indian style of Bhangra, a traditional style which is being given new flair by some young, up-and-coming performers of Indian descent who live and work in the UK.

Panjabi MC is one such artist. He is part of "Project Bhangra", which has united 4 different fields of Bhangra. It covers the range of musical styles that 'western' Bhangra has styled in exile from its homeland, Punjab, India.

At the ripe old age of 27 he is already renowned in the world of Bhangra, fusing traditional chants and rhytms with hip-hop that is being played endlessly in clubs and on radio overseas. His new album, Legalised will shortly be released. He took some time to talk about his background, influences, and direction.

Panjabi MC

I have always been interested in hip hop and where that form of music originated i.e. hard funk, James Brown and also bhangra i.e. desi Lal Chand Kuldip Manak. I am very interested in the parallel connection of these musics i.e. desi vibes, hindi mainstream, black music into mainstream white. I was the first to link the two and they came together like jelly and ice cream.

The younger producers of today who make music for the Asian markets have been brought up in a much more western way than the producers of the eighties. We know a lot more about how to cross over and we have a natural sense of the mainstream.

While we were sitting in our rooms growing up with the mainstream music our parents led us a natural root to more traditional music such as the music as Manak. In the Panjab we've seen how that music is respected. This is a lot more of a hard core music and this mixes better with hard core music.

Legalised is my album due out in the next six weeks and then Steel Bangle is the album that could cross U.K Bhangra into the mainstream. If not nothing will.

Next Week: Partners in Rhyme

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