About Taz

Taz is an activist, organizer and writer based in California. She is the founder of South Asian American Voting Youth (SAAVY), curates MutinousMindState.tumblr.com and blogs at TazzyStar.blogspot.com. Follow her at twitter.com/tazzystar

The (r)Evolving Kominas

A belated Christmas present for all y’all for this #MusicMonday – our oft written about friends The Kominas have released an (almost) self-titled album called “Kominas.” If you thought the previous albums were too punk/too political/too “taqwacore” for you – then it is time to give the band a second chance – this album might just be for you. With a more Desi-rock sound, gritty riffs, lo-fi vocals and lyrics taking a back seat, the band’s path has turned and taken on a new sound. Gone are the sing-along playfully raunchy hooks, this album is all about the bass line and dirty drum beats.

The band members of The Kominas have shifted to not only to now include the duo from Sunny Ali and the Kid, but also in instrumental roles – three of the four bandmates take a turn on the mic for this album. With multiple talents acting as the driving force between music and lyrics, the album is eclectic and completely different sounding from anything previously released by The Kominas. People have been saying that their sound has “matured” but instead, I feel the new album better reflects the skills and sounds of the new band members trying collaborate and create a new cohesive sound (Basim Usmani is the only original band member that remains from 2005).

Don’t just take my word for it. Follow the link here to the megaupload site to download the album. And if you are too chicken to download the album before listening to a song – here’s the demo to Ren, a song off of the new album.

Frankly put, it sounds like our punks have evolved – they just may be growing up.

The Donkeys Rock

It always surprises me when I find a band that is really good that should have been on my radar a long time ago. The Donkeys are on their third album release, Born with Stripes. The song below, Don’t Know Who We Are, is a single off of this album and my selection for today’s #MusicMonday.

But like California, the real-life Donkeys (best friends from Southern California, Timothy DeNardo, Jessie Gulati, Anthony Lukens and Sam Sprague) are much more… real. If their backstory contains those top-down cars and suntanned utopian surf tableaus, it also contains the malaise and the escape fantasies familiar to all suburban kids of the 80s and 90s. Miraculously, the music manages to comfortably communicate both moods at once. [deadoceans]

Turns out the making of this album was side tracked just a little bit when guitarist Jessie went to India for sitar lessons. The influence can now be heard on sitar influenced tracks “West Coast Raga” and “East Coast Raga” peppered throughout the album.  Check out The Donkeys on facebook and at their site. And let me know what you think!

Scared for Her Life and Other Stories of Hate [UPDATED]

UPDATED Dec 21, 2011: Looks like Aisha Khan was found and that some of you skeptical commentators were right all along. We will keep you posted as the story develops.

According to Overland Park police, officers made contact with her Wednesday afternoon. She was not abducted or held against her will. Police said there is no criminal investigation. [nbc]

+++++++++++

Are you in Kansas? Pay attention to this photo. Her name is Aisha Khan and she’s missing.

I can’t shake the chills her story gives me. She’s petite, 19 yrs old, newly wed and a college student. Her sister dropped Aisha off at 10am on her college campus so that she could prep for her noon final. But she never made it to her final.

Aisha Khan … has been missing since Friday morning. That is when her older sister said she left frantic text messages with her about a drunken man on the Edwards Campus she described as “creepy.” Faiza Khan said she dropped Aisha off at the campus around 10 a.m. Friday ahead of a noon final. The text messages started arriving within an hour.

 

“There’s a creepy guy that just came up to me, and he was harassing me,” Faiza said her younger sister told her in a message. She told local media outlets that Aisha “was just freaking out at that time. She didn’t know what to do. I guess she pushed him and she slapped him.” [cjonline]

 

I can’t count how many times I’ve been creeped out by harassing men – it often feels that as a woman in the American public we have to brace ourselves for street harassment. But Aisha is a girl in hijab – I can only imagine that her harasser must have said something really islamophobic and sexist to have deserved a slap. Finally, there’s the voicemail message she left her sister.

“Oh my gosh it was so scary,” Aisha said in her voice message. “My heart is like pounding. I’ve never got this scared in my life. Pick up your phones. I am freaked out right now.”

Continue reading

The One Stop Jihadi Superstore

With all this controversy around the One Stop Jihadi Superstore aka Lowes, (as Aasif Mandvi oh so eloquently put it in this Daily Show bit) and their caving to a Christian fringe extremist organization (as Phillygrrl blogged about here), it was only a matter of time before the ads that were pulled off air for the TLC show All American-Muslim took the viral airwaves. Exclusively for Sepia Mutiny mutineers, we were able dig up one of these lost commercials starring former Outsourced stars Rizwan Manji & Parvesh Cheena.

As the token Muslim mutineer, I will attest, my folks also have holiday lights up at their house, I buy candy canes and we even mail out holiday cards. This parody ain’t so far from the truth. Happy holidays, from our mutiny to yours!!

P.S – Continue to boycott, sign petitions and write letters to Lowes – it’s been a week and they still haven’t come up with an acceptable response. And while you are at, boycott the website Kayak.com too for their backhanded apology for pulling their ads off the show. But do support Russel Simmons and all his business ventures for buying ad space when no other corporations were willing to.

Why This?

I’m not one to follow pop hit music trends in India – but this one is getting a little bit too big to avoid. I briefly peeped the song a few weeks ago, didn’t think much of it. But people can’t stop tweeting about it. Now, Tigerstyle did a Bhangra remix of it, there’s a dubstep remix of it, acoustic covers of it, and my favorite, the soothing soulful R&B remix. There are now over 20 million hits to the YouTube video for this song! Am I missing something? Why this song so popular?

Why This Kolaveri Di (Why This Murderous Rage, Girl?) is an Indian song from the soundtrack of the upcoming Tamil film 3, which is due to be released in 2012… The song was officially released on 16 November 2011, and it instantly became viral on social networking sites for its quirky “Tanglish” (portmanteau word of Tamil and English) lyrics.Soon, the song became the most searched YouTube video in India. Within a few weeks, YouTube honored the track with a Gold Award for getting the most number of hits. [wiki]

 

My favorite to all this is how slapped together the song is – they were looking for a playful love song and wrote this in about twenty minutes. And bhas, sensation!

“When I was writing down the lyrics, I kept in mind all the English words that are used in the Tamil vocabulary. Words like I, you, me, how, why, cow.. I just framed them into sentences and thats how I came up with the song,” said Dhanush, who also penned down the lyrics of the song. [TOI]

 

So here you go – Why This Kolaveri Di to get stuck in your head for today’s #MusicMonday. With enough remixes to last you the month. I’m going to get started on the Banglish remix of this song ASAP.

Traveling with the Dewarists

The hunt for the perfect song never ends and I remember last time I was traveling South Asia, I was trying to connect with local musicians in every city I went. On today’s search for #MusicMonday, I found a online series that wasn’t just traveling and highlighting songs of India, it was documenting that beautiful moment when collaborations are made. The Dewarists is eight episodes in and I’m pretty surprised this is the first I’m hearing about it.

In this latest episode, we take a beautiful trip to Goa where Humble to Poet, Midival Punditz and the host of the series Monica Dogra create a song together, No I.D. Required. If you want to go directly to the song, it’s at 32:15, though the whole show is beautifully shot and I would recommend watching it fully through. I knew that Humble was traveling India, but I had no idea that he was pairing up with legends like Midival Punditz while there. It’s so out-of-the-box to put a hip-hop poet with a legendary electronic/dance duo, but I think it totally worked.

The series pairs Imogen Heap with Vishal-Shekar to sing a Tagore poetic classic in Rajasthan; classical singer Shubha Mudgal with folk rock band Swarathma in Mysore; and  Karsh Kale travels with guitar virtuoso Baiju Dharmajan in Kerala. Funded by StarWorld, this documentary web series is a brilliant idea and I’m excited to see what comes out of this project. Best of all, it’s all viewable on YouTube!

Ear Blasting Beats for the Pyar

I love when “world music” actually fuses into transnational worldly sounds that blend together melodically and intensely. This week’s song does that. Today’s #MusicMonday is a DJ Rekha & Dave Sharma (of Sub Swara) remix original - “Pyar Baile.” Though the single has been making the rounds since last year, the remixes (there are four) dropped in an EP form on Itunes a couple of weeks ago, which you can download here.

The single features Zuzuka Poderosa & Meetu Chilana and samples “Pyar Karne Wale” from the Bollywood movie Shaan. Twitterverse shows that DJ Rekha spun this at the Brooklyn Bowl this past month. I’m really digging this kind of a sound and looking forward to hearing more of this new sound from DJ Rekha. In the meantime - I’ll be listening in to DJ Rekha’s weekly podcast “Bhangra and Beyond” for a leak of her next ear blasting tune.

The Undocumented Story of Minhaz Khan

I’ve been following closely the case of Minhaz Khan, a 24 year old undocumented Bangladeshi-American from the Inland Empire who, on Nov 4th, was required to put on an ankle bracelet and present a one way ticket to Bangladesh to the authorities. It had been 20 years since he’d been to Bangladesh and when his father was deported after being denied political asylum, he was murdered for his political affiliations in Bangladesh. DreamActivist.org had a petition out to support his case and his case garnered local media coverage. His case officer read  the coverage and removed the bracelet last week and Minhaz last Tuesday was granted a temporary stay.

Minhaz Kahn — the UC-Riverside alumnus who last week had to show immigration officers that he bought a one-way ticket back to his native Bangladesh — learned Tuesday that he doesn’t have to return home just yet. He will be able to stay in the country for another three months…[T]op federal counsel told a group of American Immigration Lawyers Association attorneys in a meeting last week that they will not automatically grant a stay for all other DREAM Act eligible immigrants who are awaiting deportation, says AILA attorney Leah Price. [SFWeekly]

 

I had the chance for a virtual sit-down with Minhaz right after the ankle bracelet was placed on him a couple of weeks ago. Here’s what he had to say.

When and why did your family come to the United States?

My family came in 1992 to flee danger. My dad left entrepreneurial success and political influence to work at gas stations and my mom left a teaching career and lost all significance her Master’s held, so to anyone who says immigrants come here to take anything from anyone is missing what many people have to leave behind for safety and the possibility of a better future.

Why wasn’t your father able to seek political asylum? What happened after he was deported?

I’m not completely sure why he wasn’t granted asylum. I never got to see the judge’s decision, but I think he missed an interview or something due to a lawyer not notifying him. After he was deported in 1997, he died (or in my whole-hearted belief, murdered) a couple of years later. Continue reading

Mad Junglee

I’m a day late for #MusicMonday, I know. But this one is too good to wait for another six days. The track comes from DJ Ben G, a mashup-remix-master that has just signed on to Rukus Avenue. The remix profiled in this video is a tribute to the one and only Shammi Kapoor in a song called, “Junglee.” The video art is the work of our talented friend MadGuru.

MadGuru found 8-bit inspiration for the video from the original film.

I wanted to do something quick, which seems next to impossible in animation, and fun too. I really enjoyed the story of the film and that along with the creative sounds in Ben G’s mix made me think of old 8 bit video games like Donkey Kong and Mario Brothers. It sounded like a mashup of the two and so I thought, why not approach the visuals in the same way. Watch the original film and you’ll recognize many references in the piece. [madguru]

 

Watch the original film Junglee here and see if you can spot the references. The 8-bit video game inspired animation reminds me a lot of Das Racist’s Who’s That? Brooown! video. And of late nights playing Mario Kart in college. Bollywood 8-bit video games, now there’s an idea. How about it, MadGuru?