Slumgod Mandeep Sethi Drops the Boom Bap Rap

Poor Peoples Planet.png This past Friday, Bay Area Sikh-American hip-hop lyricist Mandeep Sethi dropped his latest album Poor Peoples Planet, a concept album produced by X9 of Xitanos Matematikos that weaves in the teaching Jiddu Krishnamurti, Punjabi gypsy origins, and classical elements of hip hop. At only 22 years old, Mandeep has already developed a strong base of followers having appeared on stage with artists such as Ziggy Marley and Dead Prez and having jumped on the mic with folks I’ve written about before such as Humble the Poet, Sikh Knowledge and Ras Ceylon. You can get Poor Peoples Planet on iTunes later this week and if you visit Mandeep’s BandCamp you can download the album now. Still not sure? Check out the single below Moving Swiftly, Guerrilla Tactics.

[Moving Swiftly::][GuerillaTactics][POORPEOPLESPLANET by mandeep.sethi.music

Full disclosure, I've been helping get the word out for Poor Peoples Planet and am excited to support a young Desi American whose lyrics are smart, conscious, and inspired by the hyphenated identity. But in the course of hanging out with Mandeep this week, I was really impressed to find out that he is one of the co-founders of Slumgods. Based in India, Slumgods was founded in 2010 as the first B-Boy collective in India bringing together emcees, breakers, artists of India and America. The Slumgods are bringing it hard and fresh using the the five elements of hip hop as a tool of empowerment for the slum youth in the Dharavi slums with a community center called Tiny Drops Hip Hop Center.

CNN did an interview with Netarpal Singh aka "HeRa" one of the founders of TinyDrops and a NYC transplant that found himself back in India after his undocumented family fled in the post 9/11 hyper-purge of everyone Brown.

India's first breaking organization for lower income group children, this attention-grabbing mix of street dance and athletics is infiltrating their lives and bringing positive change to their communities.

Kids from the ages of 10 to 21 are breaking to forget the stress and rut of lives lived as rag pickers and apprentices, electricians, tailors and carpenters. They become the dance, like the original breakers, underprivileged youths from the Bronx in the 1970s.

In America, as his mother sewed on buttons at a sweatshop and his father fulfilled his role as the ubiquitous Indian cabdriver, HeRa found a sense of structure at the local community center that he hopes to replicate at TinyDrops. [cnngo]

Mandeep Sethi will be heading back to his Slumgods roots in Feb for a mini-tour throughout India. He’ll be collaborating with local musicians, such as drum and bass artist Delhi Sultanate and the first Indian reggae band Reggae Rajahs. The last time he went he created this.

Armed with a camera, Mandeep will be documenting his journey this time around too, as he goes around India making hip hop musical connections and expanding Slumgods even further. If you are in India or know of hip hop artists that Mandeep should collaborate with, drop a comment in the comments. To follow him even more, become a Mandeep Sethi fan on Facebook or follow him on twitter @mandeepsethi. And of course, keep an eye out on iTunes to download your copy of Poor Peoples Planet soon. Trust me, it’s an album that is not to be missed.

Boom Bapri-Bap Rap!

Previously: Aisee Taisee Out of Nowhere, Getting Gully

30 thoughts on “Slumgod Mandeep Sethi Drops the Boom Bap Rap

  1. Not to swerve off topic but someone at sepia needs to do a post on Padma Laxmi…that girl got drama!!!

  2. Am I the only one here who thinks that introducing hip hop music as a means of empowerment for the slum youth in India as a bad thing? Traditional values keep society’s lower classes from becoming dysfunctional and prone to crime.

  3. ” Traditional values keep society’s lower classes from becoming dysfunctional and prone to crime.”

    Frankly I think India needs a class revolution badly. The rich shit on the poor too much in India..the mockery, the arrogance. its high time indians servants revolt and bash some heads.

    White Tiger was on point.

    • You have to be careful not to spread ignorance because GoI does a lot for the poor & better managed states offer more:

      In Karnataka for the poor: Health Insurance – Free (In best private hospitals also) Food – Food is rationed according to family size. Free goodie bags for festivals. Housing – Slums, but a lot of them are being offered brick & mortar/flats built by the government to reduce squalor. Contracted labour has to be provided housing by employers. Education – Free including lunch. If reserved caste – college is mostly free including living stipend. TV – In Tamil Nadu they have distributed 16.2 million free TVs so far. Salary – Based on my knowledge servants in Bangalore circa 2006 made around 3000 Rs per month.

      Are all these available to the poor of the USA?

      The problem is that in large parts of India there are no proper distribution channels (food lost due to rot), no teachers (empty schools), no doctors (empty hospitals), no electricity, no water. So people are unable to take advantage, particularly in North/East, but urban poor in South/West are pretty well off. In Urban areas the real “poor” are the middle class who have to pay full price for everything.

  4. Unfortunately, historically such revolts have precipitated more oppression and harsher treatments of the poor rather than improving conditions. Servants who make good tend to engender more respect for their class than ones who prove themselves to be violent thugs. The kind of violence you see in Rio or Haiti isn’t something you want ported to India.

  5. “The kind of violence you see in Rio or Haiti isn’t something you want ported to India.”

    Frankly I think whether we want it or not…it’ll happen. Just check the footage from Egypt

  6. “The problem is that in large parts of India there are no proper distribution channels (food lost due to rot), no teachers (empty schools), no doctors (empty hospitals), no electricity, no water.”

    This is all I was saying Sanjaya.

    Its funny indians both FOB and ABCDs get super bent out of shape when you bring up revolution, Thats the beauty of hip-hop it allows the underclass to subvert the system for their own benefit rather than having to abide by the norms of the oppressor.

    And no I am not ‘for’ revolution, I just think that given: ” in large parts of India there are no proper distribution channels (food lost due to rot), no teachers (empty schools), no doctors (empty hospitals), no electricity, no water. “

    Its bound to happen.

  7. And no I am not ‘for’ revolution, I just think that given: ” in large parts of India there are no proper distribution channels (food lost due to rot), no teachers (empty schools), no doctors (empty hospitals), no electricity, no water. ”

    Except the parts of India that are in open insurrection are actually worse off than the ones that didn’t throw in with the Naxals.

  8. “are actually worse off”

    That is sadly true.

    But when pressure builds in a kettle..if there isn’t a valve, then everyone knows what happens.

  9. Yoga Fire,

    You might be interested in the comments by Rajiv Chandran on SandeepWeb. Nowadays, nobody wants to touch the issue of caste with a bargepole.

    On a more related note, it’s interesting to see rappers promoting “thug culture” in India, the homeland of the Thuggee cult.

  10. “thug culture” in India, the homeland of the Thuggee cult.”

    I just flash backed to Temple of Doom

  11. I think commenters are being much too nonchalant about this issue. Do you guys really want to see India to have the same sort of crime problems prevalent in the favelas of Brazil or the shantytowns of South Africa/Haiti? And frankly this idea of an oppressor is really just laughable to me. Everyone needs a scapegoat to blame for their own failings. In any society you have the rich usually look down on the poor. There’s no actual reason for the poor to pay much attention to this. They should just focus on improving their lot honestly and with hard work instead of becoming crazy and violent!

  12. Its a funny thing….given the contempt that most middle/upper class indians have for their servants. Would it be surprising if more of the servants mimic White Tiger and simply knock off their abusive masters and steal a sack of money?

    Robin Hood theory pure and simple.

    With the rise of the internet, cellphone, satellite television…the lower classes see what they are missing they are tired of being stepped on. They see the world around them, they see the tiny amount of money they get for the backbreaking labor they produce is inconsistent with the posh lives of the coddled wealthy they serve…

    The sheer denial of this topic by those in the upper classes is proof positive…there is VAST amounts of bottled up anger in India and if it should ever find vent through class warfare…watch out!

    • I am much more skeptical about it than you, at least in South India which I’m familiar with. I could be wrong about the North particularly semi-urban/rural areas. Most of the wealth people have in such areas is their agricultural land, it can’t be stolen like a sack of money.

      There’s a lot of opportunistic crimes committed by servants and treating them too well is interpreted as a sign of vulnerability. A lot of foreigners learn this the hard way. Backbreaking labor – are you kidding?? Servants have no work ethic, you have to be on their case 24×7. They keep asking you for loans and go on long holidays to their native village.

      Besides this servant/master dynamic is overblown, it isn’t so much a job as a relationship, people stick their noses in each others lives. In the USA I’ve noticed stratified isolation and racial balkanization particularly in housing. In India everyone has to mix, whether they like it or not, which helps simmer down tensions.

  13. The sheer denial of this topic by those in the upper classes is proof positive…there is VAST amounts of bottled up anger in India and if it should ever find vent through class warfare…watch out!

    Nobody is denying anything. I just have a this thing where I can’t take seriously armchair revolutionaries who presume to speak for whole classes of people despite having no direct experience of their lives. First of all there is a great deal of skepticism about the internet as liberation Jesus notion.

    The article also includes an artful sentence that illustrates the problems with people who wistfully hope of horrifically violent things to transpire.

    To elaborate, the discourse of a social media revolution is a form of self-focused empathy in which we imagine the other (in this case, a Muslim other) to be nothing more than a projection of our own desires, a depoliticized instant in our own becoming.
  14. Yoga I play professional poker and earn a million plus a year based on my ability to read human emotions…I’m pretty good at reading trends :)

    I have never been called a revolutionary, armchair or otherwise…a hip hop fan, hedonist, womanizer yes…revolutionary no. I kinda like it though.

    When it comes to India..to paraphrase Malcolm X the chickens will come home to roost.

    • Your argument assumes all poor people relate to each other, middle class people relate to each other etc. Currently in India the middle class Tamil relates to the poor Tamil (and vice versa) rather than the middle class North Indian.

      I am worried about the Indianisation of everyone into English-Hindi speakers who watch Cricket and Bollywood. If local culture is sufficiently eroded then it may catalyze a class revolution.

  15. “Servants have no work ethic, you have to be on their case 24×7. They keep asking you for loans and go on long holidays to their native village.”

    Wow!

    God those poor people they really do suck!

    sarcasm over

    Its hilarious how SCARED desis become when you mention a revolution of the poor in india. If the poor are SO happy Sanjaya why worry :) :)

    And will skepticism keep you safe?

    • kidpoker666, would you mind explaining exactly what is keeping the poor down? In the American context do you think that the poor here are also oppressed by the ‘man’ like so much marxist rhetoric wants us to believe?

  16. “Yoga I play professional poker and earn a million plus a year based on my ability to read human emotions…I’m pretty good at reading trends :)

    Is that why you had to rip off Negreanu’s nickname?

  17. “Is that why you had to rip off Negreanu’s nickname?”

    Daniel gave me my name after I hit runner runner…or did you miss the 666?

  18. While this is an irrelevant yet amusing segue… if you are who you say you are… that was a lame story… what does 666 have to do with a runner runner? you hit trips with suited connectors in hand? you hit quads while you held onto a middle pair? http://rlv.zcache.com/im_huge_in_japan_postcard-p239983185932295651qibm_400.jpg

    Stick to the points instead of making glorious, self-aggrandizing statements… just because you are good at poker (as you say you are) does not mean you are qualified to be a Psychoanalyst or whatever you were making claims towards.

    http://a7.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/photos-ak-sf2p/v217/237/37/54302939/n54302939_30454360_8020.jpg

    Oh and while you are at it, Suggest that SM does an update of this article in light of your unprecedented success: http://www.sepiamutiny.com/sepia/archives/004810.html

  19. Aw you’re sweet… didn’t warrant the “need a life” but thank you for looking out. :) Good luck with the millions.

    But since you want to talk about huggable talks, lets have them

    “Frankly I think India needs a class revolution badly. The rich shit on the poor too much in India..the mockery, the arrogance. its high time indians servants revolt and bash some heads.”

    Have you ever been to India? I lived there during Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid riots … I saw someone being cut with a sword. I don’t think you understand the mass of death there will be if there is ever such a revolution.

    When I was even younger in the 80s, my dad used to work in Punjab back when the government’s policies against the Sikhs resulted in non-Punjabis becoming easy targets.

    You want to talk revolution based on the texts you read lets stick to Marx vs Bohm Bawerk and not talk about things you seem to have scant idea of.

    Hip hop revolutions? Do you realize that there is a version of Hip Hop in India …tribal music and folk tales are a primary medium of social messages for the Naxalites. Gaddar walked through 2000 villages to spread the same message you want to spread…I don’t want to talk about the consequences but then again…

    It is hard to explain it to someone who seems to cut and paste philosophical ideas without any cultural congruence.

    If people act “scared” it is because anytime a “revolution” happens in India…millions don’t get to feed their kids that day – if they are lucky to be alive at the end of it.

    Stick to your online poker rooms and coffee table Marxism for a while before you mock people who do realize the consequences of loose words in the powder keg of a society.