Sampling chutney

Punjabi Boy points us to samples of chutney music from the Caribbean. Listen here.

It’s my first time listening in on this genre, and it’s wild. Sometimes it sets well-known Hindi songs (‘Jai Jai Shiv Shankar’) rendered in English to hyperkinetic calypso beats. Other times it’s creole music with snippets of Hindi lyrics and desi instruments. ‘Rum Shop‘ by Dil-e-Nadan reminds me of Karmacy’s harmonium-infused rap track, ‘Euphoria.’ Other tracks remind me of the Bollywood hits redone as Broadway / West End songs in Bombay Dreams and Fourteen Songs, Two Weddings and a Funeral.

Rajendra Saywack dissertates:

Chutney was the name given to the pop/folk music of the East Indians that lived in the Caribbean region… In the summer of 1996, the dance hit, “Calcutta Woman” [by Sharlene Boodram] made its debut on the North American & European pop charts… its Wine Yuh Waist lyrics were constantly being sampled by American [DJs]…

… Sundar Popo lept to fame with the song “Nana & Nani.” The song, almost comical in nature described the affairs of a grandfather and grandmother, perhaps his own… Sundar’s lyrics of “Nana drinkin white rum and Nani drinkin wine,” were heard just about everywhere…

The traditional West Indian Calypso was being merged into a new form of music called Soca… Chutney music was caught up in this change, which would later evolve it into a new style called Indian Soca… it was almost solidly dominated by Afro West Indians during its early days. Songs such as Baron’s “Raja Rani”, Mighty Trini’s “Curry Tabanca,” Sugar Aloe’s “Roti & Dhalpourie” & Sparrow’s “Marajin” dominated the Indian Soca scene…

Dhalpourie? Francophilic spelling throws me. Saywack continues:

Songs such as Crazy’s “Nani Wine,” Scrunter’s “Nanny” and Becket’s “Nanny Revival,” had become popular hits, not because of their lyrics about East Indian grandmothers, but rather because the pronunciation of the word “nanee” sounds too much like one of the Trinidad street names for vagina…

The fact that most East Indians [in the Caribbean] don’t understand Hindi also makes their love of this music all the more interesting… “I cyan understan’ dis t’ing, but I mus’ hear it.”

Great. Now we’ve got two must-hear genres named after condiments.

20 thoughts on “Sampling chutney

  1. Rajendra Saywack

    Wow, how’s that for Francophilic?? 🙂

    Thnk about it… Virender Saywhack – not that’s what I call apt!! 🙂

  2. great tip, PB! I don’t know how anybody can sit still while listening to this! 🙂

  3. Its wicked music isnt it DesiDancer? The lyrics are wicked on these songs too!

    Are you going to do some choreography to these tunes in your dance gang?

  4. PB- doubtful. This has way too much flava for my innocent bollywood-jhatka posse. I don’t think they’re ready for this jelly. (um,chutney) …I may have to break out and go solo

  5. Does any1 know of the chutney singer ashnee or ashney, please email me if you have any info on her and how 2 spell her name correctly. I want 2 buy her CD….thanks

  6. serena it’s not ashney but “ashnie” (you pronounce as ashney). she is a famous chutney/hindi singer from holland,but born in Surinam(that’s next 2 trinidad if im correct). other famous surinam hindi singers are: oemar, faziel, indian express, ramdew chaitoe.

    just search these names in kazaa or limewire and u will get tons of results.

  7. Wow!!! I hadn’t reaized what a big “culture” this is. I was born in South Africa (so many generations down the line that I sadly don’t have any family ties tracing back to India)and whilst growing up, at every family gathering, chutney music always filled up the airwaves!

    It didn’t matter if the source of the music was an antique hi-fi system with massive speakers rattling so much that it made all my mothers ornaments fall off the cabinet or whether it was my dad playing the guitar with my uncle and I singing and drumming away on empty buckets whilst everyone else, men, women and children were clapping their hands and dancing around (sounds really sad I know, but what fun it was back in those days).

    I too don’t understand the lyrics, but who cares. With a rhythm like that it’s no wonder why it’s so popular. Even my grandmother (who I called Nani by the way)used to sway her head from left to right with the beat (or maybe she was trying to say “NO-STOP THIS NOISE”).

    Until recently, we believed that chutney music originated in the “poor” indian community in South Africa and was always considered to be a home grown type of music. But it seems more like someone copied the rhythm and added their own words into the mix.

    But whichever way you look at it there’s no beating the wonderful sounds of CHUTNEY.

  8. Sharlene Rocks Mon ,way too beautiful and really really bouncy…hey the hottest desis who know ther winding are the trini girls Big Up ….watch out for Sharlene…Grand Mother India is Proud of you Sharlene.

  9. this was stupid the title”listen here” is not working…. you try to fix it so we cud actually listen to the music!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. I love chutney music and I live in virginia so I dont get the latest in the music so I come on this site to see whats new and going on can you please email your site for me to listen to some great music. I would like to download it and listen and share with friends.Thank you I would really like that.

  11. its nice to see enjoying our music … as a fellow trini myself who was born in toronto canada i love my music … along with my ghazals, indian classical music, and well filmi bollywood songs new and old …. so yeah

    here are some great sites for chutney. chutney was originally created in trinidad as a way to 1. get girls to dance LOL 2. old men singing when they were drunk –> two types of chutney emerged 1. new type chuntey like “RUm till i die” by aadesh sumaroo which is in english and 2. older type chutney with closer ties to callipso (had more meaning to it) usuually in hindi –> sundar popo, all the yankaran’s, like rakesh yankaran and anand making really good music that even ppl in india could appreciate and lastly babla and kanchan who were two indian artists who frequented trinidad cause they loved the ppl and the island and made many hits, sadly kanchan died in 2005 from some disease, i saw her last concert in toronto, now babla and his daughter dont come to TnT as often but their daughter still has the “chutney” in her … anyway theres a lil brief history

    now guyana does play in … recently they have some good artists come out, but two of the biggest names is Terry gagraj and Devanand Gattoo, now the guyanaeese chutney is usually a little harder to understand and may be more well … not hindi really …

    anyway here are some great sites to search


  12. Dear Manish: enjoyed going thru your website. wanted to draw your attention to Surabhi Sharma’s feature length documentary film Jahaji Music. This film is a record of the evolution of chutney music in the Caribbean.

    From the mid-nineteenth century Indian labourers arrived in the Caribbean on boats, bringing a few belongings and their music, the beginnings of a remarkable cultural practice. More than 150 years later musician Remo Fernandes travels to the Islands to explore collaborations and create new work.

    Jahaji Music is a record of a difficult, if unusual and complex, musical journey. It is an attempt to make meaning of aspects of contemporary culture in Trinidad and Jamaica, even as we witness the nature and possibilities of artistic collaboration. The film endeavours, through it all, to weave a story of memory, identity and creativity.

    Duration: 1 hour 52 minutes


    Director’s Note


  13. Getting hooked to chutney music…it sounds so much like home, where Mom always used to make green chilly and coriander chutney with fried pakoras on Sundays when dad used to be home…and we had cricket matches with local bunch of hooligans and urchins….missing home… after travelling all over the world I have lost my western fixation and know that they had it right when they said, ‘mera bharat mahan’!