DJ Rekha smacks Daler Mehndi

DJ Rekha calls Daler Mehndi the Punjabi Bobby McFerrin (via Tablatronic):

Mehndi was bhangra lite and a diversion, says DJ Rekha of New York’s hip Bhangra Basement club: “Even back when he was big, he was kind of like the Will Smith of bhangra. Not so respected. Now, after the scandal, his position in the scene is that he doesn’t really have one.”…

There’s a new breed of younger, tougher British bhangra kings in Rishi Rich and Panjabi MC. Rich, in particular, has taken the music to heights Mehndi never dreamed of, fusing it with hip-hop to create a more aggressive sound that has Britney Spears and Ricky Martin queuing up to ask the 26-year-old to add a global street edge to their singles… Rich’s hardening of bhangra takes it back to its roots. As the music of the dry farms of the Punjab, bhangra lyrics were often gritty, and even today Punjabi artists are the most outspoken in India, singing about sex, drugs and crime just as their hip-hop peers do in the West…

In 1999 an American critic, stunned by the ecstatic crowd at one of his New Jersey concerts, declared Mehndi “bigger than the Beatles.”… “You know, I was a very bad taxi driver,” he says. “Always looking in the mirror at myself and imagining I would be a big star in music…”

At a recent recording session in Bombay, he still looked like a cartoon king, decked out in a black turban with sequined band, gold bracelets and chains, and a bright red designer shirt. (“I want the fans to look at Daler Mehndi like a maharajah,” Mehndi explains.)…

And there’s this conversational pearl:

Mehndi: Dung dung dara dara dung dung.
Technician: Ding ding da di da da DAK?
Tumbi player: Ta blakakak dak dak?
Mehndi: Neh. Dabadung dakadaka dakadaka DING!…

Previous posts on Daler here and here.

12 thoughts on “DJ Rekha smacks Daler Mehndi

  1. And yet in the late ’90s, fresh from a stint driving a cab in Berkeley, California, Mehndi became Asia’s biggest-ever pop export.

    You have got to be kidding me. That dude is getting more play than Sabeer Bhatia and Arun Nayar put together, and he was a CAB DRIVER?!?

    jayzus…

  2. As the music of the dry farms of the Punjab, bhangra lyrics were often gritty, and even today Punjabi artists are the most outspoken in India, singing about sex, drugs and crime just as their hip-hop peers do in the West.

    this reminds me:

    “The ‘Korea Wave’ has been sweeping Asian [popular music] for only the past two years. But there’s no secret to why it’s been so quick to overtake Asia’s traditional content providers, Hong Kong and Japan: Simply, K-pop is hipper than J-pop, cooler than Canto-pop. Reason? Hip hop. …Brought to [Korea] by Korean-Americans, the hard-core raps and harsh beats have been toned down and adapted by groups like Seo Taiji, The Boys and UpTown. Today, almost all the bands sport at least one Korean-American, usually a rapper, who adds vital street cred.” — Far Eastern Economic Review, 2001

    I see a boom market for all my fellow rap-loving Indian American homeboys!

    Seeing that the part of my brain that would ostensibly have been memorizing slokams in a past life is entirely devoted to the Chronic/Get Rich or Die Tryin’/etc, maybe I should audition…

  3. DJ Rekha is over-rated. The music at Basement Bhangra is more hip-hop/r&b than bhangra. She should be fired!

  4. fusing it with hip-hop to create a more aggressive sound that has Britney Spears and Ricky Martin queuing up

    Hold on, hold on, if Britney and Ricky like it, then it must be really good!!! I mean fusing plain old boring bhangra with hip-pop, way to sell out – I mean way to represent yo

    singing about sex, drugs and crime just as their hip-hop peers do in the West Brilliant. If we imitate them then maybe they will deign to think of us as being cool. Talk about real street cred.

    Maybe we could have a west side east side feud too. Alright all you west punjabies itÂ’s time to bust a cap in the east punjabiesÂ’ *ss.

  5. And yet in the late ’90s, fresh from a stint driving a cab in Berkeley, California, Mehndi became Asia’s biggest-ever pop export. You have got to be kidding me. That dude is getting more play than Sabeer Bhatia and Arun Nayar put together, and he was a CAB DRIVER?!?

    What a funny reaction. In India people act as if a job defines a person. Oh, he’s just a —. This has its roots in the caste system, where people were literally defined by their jobs. But most free market types like to think of a job as simply something you do, to make money. So Harrison Ford was a carpenter, then he became a movie star. Bruce Willis was a bartender. Vin Deisel was a bouncer. Many actors waited tables, if only to say that they did.

    Why should it surprise you that a former taxi driver is getting play?

  6. yo yo…get dis straight bhangra doezn’t need hip hop or rock or any other form of muzik combination to make it sound better. and people that think so dont understand bhangra and what itz all about. it doeznt need any form of “fusing” whatsoever to make it sound better as if u listen to babbu mann’s or gurdas mann’s new albums “pyaas” and “heer”, respectively. bhangra iz all about a type of muzik that stands out on itz own. now i aint denying that a rishi rish or rdb song iznt good, it jusst seemz to me as i am the only one to be defending pure bhangra, no hip hop, no modificationz, and NO REMIXES!!!

  7. yo yo all u punjabis out there!!!!! kiddan??/ I think all our singers are doing really well and rocking international as well as indian music scene…I like both hip hop and bhangra fusion as well as pure bhangra…and i want to give due respect to our beloved Surjit Bindrakhiyan saab and we miss him a lot..Also I liked Jeeti’s new album “Off the Hooks” The song “AAja Soniye” is nice and looking forward to some great music from mesophuria…His albums r wickd…. love all ciao

  8. singing about sex, drugs and crime just as their hip-hop peers do in the WestBrilliant. If we imitate them then maybe they will deign to think of us as being cool. Talk about real street cred.

    As far as lyrical content, discussions on sex, drugs, and crime reach far back in Punjabi music. Ever listened to Chamkila, Kuldip Manak, or Mohammed Siddiq? “We” don’t “need” to imitate “them”. These topics were already present in Punjabi music. Contrary to popular belief, Punjabi music existed before the 1980′s and did talk about more than dhols and melas. Listen to Chamkila, shoot, even listen to boliyaan for Gidha. These days, yes, much of the pop-Punjabi scene (which I’m not too too fond of) does take from hip-hop beats and a hip-hop style. Some artists do it because the gimmick sells. Some artists do it because they’ve grown up with hiphop, or with other influences, and they can can relate to the Punjabi culture, but maybe find themselves expressing themselves via hiphop.
    A lot of pop-Punjabi artists do try to claim unearned street cred; they end up bastardizing all of the genres they’re trying to bring into their music. The same has happened for a lot of hiphop – there are the posers, and there are the real o.g.’s, the real hustlers. Juggy D? Poser. Surinder Shinda? Hustler. If you don’t know, you better ask somebody.