Soul Tap’s Nivla and P.Oberoi– Crashing the Superbowl

So…I meant to have this post up last week, but I have pneumonia and my life has come to a screeching halt after one damning chest x-ray. Despite such extenuating circumstances, I feel terrible about the delay, because the video embedded above, for New Yorkers Soul Tap featuring Nivla and P. Oberoi’s “Be Easy (Koi Naa)” is part of a contest sponsored by Doritos called “Crash the Superbowl“, for which voting ends either tomorrow or tonight (I’ve read both dates, so just vote asap).

I’m slightly comforted by the fact that the grassroots outreach on behalf of this South Asian American quartet has been solid, so you probably didn’t need SM to tell you about them (though you may have read about them on our news tab). I’m massively tickled by the fact that Nivla peppers rap with Malayalam phrases like I do my posts, though he is not as consumed with the word “kundi”. Despite that minor shortcoming, when he’s flowin “edi penne…ingota va “, I’m goin’, “HELL YES!”.

Barest of details about the group that is fighting off two Texans for a shot at an Interscope record deal plus sixty-seconds of prime-eyeball time for their video, during the biggest bowl of ‘em all:

Soul Tap Presents Nivla and P. Oberoi (yup, that’s their name), is a group composed of rapper Alvin “Nivla” Augustine, Punjabi folk singer Parag “P. Oberoi” Oberoi, Sharad “DJ Sharad” Bhavnani and sound engineer Raj “RVM Sounds” Makhija…
Their Indian-fused hip-hop – a nod of sorts to Jay-Z and Punjabi MC’s collaboration on the “Beware of the Boys” track a few years ago – lends Sub-continental style to the traditionally American rhythms.
“It’s who we are. We grew up listening to hip-hop, and then going home and our parents would have on a [classical Indian singer],” says DJ Sharad.
“We grew up with two cultures; the New York American one and the Indian one.” [NYP]

Read more of that article which was in the New York Post, it has the entire story about how the video which has got them this far almost wasn’t. Meanwhile, I will try to get over my raging disgust for MySpaz and log in, since that’s the only way to vote for the brown contenders. Voting ends soon; I know you have a profile on that visual-assault of a social networking program which crashes my browser every other time I visit– if you are so inclined, log in and vote to let Soul Tap/Nivla/P.Oberoi crash the super bowl. That just sounds mutinous.

83 thoughts on “Soul Tap’s Nivla and P.Oberoi– Crashing the Superbowl

  1. Every time I drop a lot of $$ on a Japanese meal or an Italian suit, I bemoan this kind of trend in desi-American culture. I know that nothing can be done about it, but–brand-name, people!

    Who gives a shit? Desis are still by and large overrepresented in the top echelons of society, we’re still mostly thought of as nerds, heck there are desi rappers who are in med school – like this guy, and honestly I don’t think we’re a big enough population (which is why I predict that this group won’t make it that big) for people to notice or care that much.

    Oh and feel free to crucify me for this, but I’m glad that the guys didn’t at least have a bunch of white (especially blonde) women in the video, like in so many Indian movie songs.

  2. I just meant there’s a cost to some of this–”premium” brands get a boost in the marketplace, which is why people pay more for Japanese food than for most other food, and for Italian clothes than most other clothes.

  3. Anna thanks for posting this! I kind of like the song :-X I hope I’m not too late in voting on this. Totally OT but I have no idea if this was ever posted in the SM community (I read here everyday but don’t think I’ve ever commented).. but I saw this and it made me LOLZ for real. http://youtube.com/watch?v=sA-451XMsuY

    Also I hope you feel better! I have to agree with what everyone is saying and use that tiger balm! I swear that & Vicks vapor rub can probably cure cancer someday.

  4. I’ve watched this about 20 times today (had to gain expertise before commenting) and I really don’t see anything wrong with it. Standard hip-hop fare, for the most part. The video is stylistically similar to NERD’s ‘lapdance‘ (but a LOT cleaner). Considering the alternative, we’ve come a long way, baby.

    And as for the accusations of ‘misogyny’, I guess it’s up to me to take down SM’s familiar ‘if you can’t please everyone, don’t try’ battlecry. For far too long, we have been held as model minorities, cast as sexless nerds in movies, and generally written off in matters of the loins. It’s about time we throw our topi in the ring and let the objectification begin!

  5. However, I do object to this statement:
    While I agree that the women aren’t shot comparably to the men, why would they be? No offense to the fellas but the women are much more attractive and provide a more pleasing visual aesthetic.

    Double word, bhura shakkar. “Why would they be?” adds nothing to the discussion, imho, and seems to be arguing that the only legit audience for this music or video is teh menz. That’s crap.

    Like you, I’m not saying that my interpretation of this video is the one true interpretation. If it comes across as disrespectful to women to other people, that’s valid. I just know that I tend to watch hip hop videos with part of me cringing, waiting for the horrible booty shots, or the really sexist/violent rhyme . . . and I didn’t see it here. So maybe I’m watching it more comparatively — but comparatively, it’s downright positive.

  6. Lizzie and bhurra shakkar,

    I’m only back on this thread to apologize on that comment. It does come from a straight man’s perspective and was meant partly tongue in cheek. I’m out completely.

  7. 25 · zimblymallu said

    isn’t one girl wearing a sari coorgi style? x i thought the guys dancing was funny. he also says kottayam and thiruvananthapuram…. haha.

    Wow, didn’t even catch that! I can’t say I enjoyed the vid but the song is aight.

  8. I cant believe we are even having a discussion on the “sexist” elements in the video considering this is very tame compared to your typical Bollywood movie.

  9. From the streets of New York to the SLUMS of Ernakulam

    CENT percent literacy rate, super-duper health care system, Gender relations, culture, family values, and he had to rap about that? :)

  10. honestly, i didn’t know there were any slums in kerala at all. I haven’t travelled a lot in kerala, so I wouldn’t know about them… plus, the overall feeling I’ve always got of kerala is that it was a small town state. To me, slums are always associated with really bad infrastructure and lots of people in a small place. Is there any place in kerala like that? Of course I’m comparing Kerala with the rest of India and cities like Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai… educate me.

  11. I wouldn’t exactly call them slums at all. I mean there are poor people just like everywhere else. But I cant really think of any place there that has a very high population density coupled with very low standard of living. I’ve never seen anything in kerala to compare to that stretch of road between the Mumabi international, and domestic airports.

  12. Kerala has a super-duper health care system?

    proof’s in the payasam. infant mortality rate, life expectancy rate are superior to most other indian states. plus their oil massage is a fry short of a plantain crisp.

  13. I would have also accepted the poorams of trichur ,or the backwaters of allaphuzha.

  14. I never considered “Edi Penne Ingota Vadi” a particularly sexy phrase. It makes me feel like I’m in trouble. Something seriously got lost in translation there.

  15. Kerala has a super-duper health care system?

    That is the kind of information that trots out when I beat my chest. Most Mallu achievements are World Famous only in India:)Government hospitals in Kerala are smelly quagmires that serve people who can’t afford private health care; but, they provide the basic health care that can often be the difference between life and death.

    I personally don’t think that Ernakulam has slums as such. However, it could only be a matter of time before that happens. When I was there a year ago, it was very evident that there were a lot of workers coming in from places like Tamil Nadu and Bihar as the money was good in comparison to the rest of India (Rs. 250 for a day’s work, mostly in the construction segment). Erm, there is no reason for me to articulate all this when I can google and come up with this:

    KOCHI: The demographic pattern of the workforce of the State is fast changing with labourers from north and eastern India dominating the scene.

    If it was the workers from Tamil Nadu who mostly used to reach the State, now workers from West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are also coming to the State in large numbers.

    The construction boom in Kerala is offering immense job opportunities and better wages to these workers as there is a huge demand for carpenters, casual labourers, masons and experts in laying granite and marble slabs.

    Building contractors are finding it difficult to get Keralite workers for construction-related work whereas they have enough number of workers from other States.

    “There is a dearth of Keralite workers and a majority of the workers is from other States,” said Mathew Joseph, a contractor.

    While a worker in West Bengal would get a maximum wage of Rs.40 a day, he will be earning around Rs.250 here. They will also be paid overtime wages for additional work, said Mr. Joseph.

    Exploitation

    At the same time, trade union leaders point out that the migrant labourers are subjected to severe exploitation.

    The migrant workers are paid 30 to 40 per cent less than what is paid to the workers of the State, said K.V. Manoj, Ernakulam regional secretary of the Kettida Nirmana Thozhilali Union (CITU).

    This has also led to a situation where the wages of the Kerala workers are being cut down. These workers do not have the bargaining power and are often denied basic amenities, he said.

    The heavy influx of these workers has also thrown up several social issues.

    The antecedents of workers not brought by contractors would be unknown and it would be difficult to track those with criminal or dubious background, said Mr. Manoj.

    While the Inter-State Migrant Workers Act and the Contract Labour Regulation and Abolition Act covered the workers recruited by contractors, the minimum wages act and such ones govern others, said Additional Labour Commissioner Prakash Oliver.

    For the contract workers, the Labour department is issuing ID cards and collecting deposit from the contractors for the welfare of workers, he said.

    It is the task of finding accommodation that is daunting workers the most. In many cases, they stay in tents erected at the sites.

    In other cases, the workers are forced to stay in dingy and small houses hired by the contractors leading to social issues.

    In one such incident that took place at Vennala, nearly 30 workers were provided accommodation in three portions of a small house. The presence of strangers in the house invited protests from the residents of the area who approached the police. Eventually, the workers had to leave the place following the intervention of the residents’ association.

    The rent of houses in areas like Thevara, where these workers are accommodated, have also gone up considerably, said Mr. Manoj. Source

  16. Aargh, that post didn’t come out the way I wanted it to; perhaps I shouldn’t have copy/pasted the entire article. Sorry.

  17. 25 · zimblymallu said

    isn’t one girl wearing a sari coorgi style?

    I’m pretty sure she isn’t wearing the sari “Coorgi-style”….I doubt that would be fashion-appropriate for the house party scene. If you watch the rest of the video, she’s wearing leggings, a spaghetti-top, and a typical sari wrapped tube-top style around her body and fashionably knotted on the side. Pretty original, if you ask me. You should find out her name and call it a (Insert name here)-style sari. And then invest in her clothing line…Those are the kind of stylishly-Indian threads I would like to see on the racks at my local mall.

  18. WSJ has an article today about Nivla Featuring P. Oberoi for those interested (Marketplace section front page) . Alrite, alrite.. it was about Doritos. But these guys are mentioned several times and also pictured. But their VP of marketing is one Ms Ann Mukerjee. Im wondering if this had anything to do with their being selected as finalists and also being prominently displayed in this WSJ article. Ann seemed to be very concerned about any wardrobe malfunctions and seems to be coming down harshly on any cleavage.

    speaking of ‘edi penne ingottu vadi’, just remembered the other quintessential line from the often fleeting sex scene in mallu movies ..

    Husband (in an effort to get some): “edi penne ingottu vadi” Wife (feigning shyness, trying to break away from his grasps but eyes glinting coquettishly): “venda chetta, arengilum kaanum”

    A couple of seconds of coercion and they both lie backwards on to the bed smiling Camera pans away to the whirring white godrej ceiling fan. Pleasing music cued as the next scene brings daybreak. (no midnight snack?? hmmm…?)

    sorry for the derailment, but couldnt resist :)

  19. Husband (in an effort to get some): “edi penne ingottu vadi” Wife (feigning shyness, trying to break away from his grasps but eyes glinting coquettishly): “venda chetta, arengilum kaanum”

    Interesting how wives sometimes address their husbands as “chetta.” Granted, it’s a sign of respect, but wow.

  20. 76 · non-sequitur said

    But their VP of marketing is one Ms Ann Mukerjee. Im wondering if this had anything to do with their being selected as finalists and also being prominently displayed in this WSJ article.

    Right. Mukherjee stuffed the virtual ballot box. I thought finalists were determined by voting on My Space. Maybe she had something to do with WSJ, but do we always have to come up with an alternate explanation for how someone desi achieved something?

  21. Edi Penne Ingota Vadi

    For a Punjabi woman who hopes to learn Malayalum one day, can someone please translate?

  22. At a glance, this would mean, “hey girl, come here”. However, it’s a bit more complicated than that as many people feel that sort of usage is outdated.

    Pennu = Girl

    Ingottu = Here

    Vaa = come

    Well, that’s the simple bit. Edi is similar to “thu” in Hindi, in the feminine form. Elders usually address little kids as Edi (female) and Eda (male). It was also common/normal to address your wife as Edi in certain parts of Kerala; wives calling their husbands Eda would be very rude. However, in this day and age, it’s usually the name/pet-name rather than Edi. Unless, both partners are real comfortable with calling each other Eda and Edi; then it’s all good. Having said all this, I must point out that there are many couples who are fine with the Husband calling the Wife Edi even now; also, for what it’s worth, the guys are usually older than the women in these cases. It’s a cultural thing; therefore, to each, his/her own, I guess.

    The truth is, if our boy Nivla walked into the Mattancherry Bar, ordered a drink, turned around to spot a cute-mallu-thing, and said,”Edi penne, ingottu vaadi”, he’d probably get whacked on the head with a Kingfisher bottle, or something as hard.

  23. Yes, but if you look at Facebook walls or listen to a bunch of kids from Elmont blather at each other, you’ll hear plenty of “edi”s, “ada”s, “thendi”, “thalipoli” etc. mixed in with slang and various Noo Yawk accents.

  24. Pondatti,

    I agree with you completely. Nobody has issues when their friends call them “Eda” or “Edi”. I was talking about addressing complete strangers and perhaps wasn’t clear enough.

    Peace

  25. Right. Mukherjee stuffed the virtual ballot box. I thought finalists were determined by voting on My Space. Maybe she had something to do with WSJ, but do we always have to come up with an alternate explanation for how someone desi achieved something?

    Pondatti- Just saw this so this might be a little late since Nivla didnt get picked. But no need to get worked up.. I was referring to the WSJ article where it said that the 10 finalists who people are virtually voting for were picked by a committee (of which Ms Mukherjee is a part) or some such at Doritos.