For Many, Being a Sikh Means Being an Activist

mosaic04d7a7b2ed2428b58c207456836565d64dfed88b.jpgWhile everyone seems to be pretty excited about Kamaljit topping the Billboard charts – it seems that Jay Sean is not the only musician from our community who is gaining a ton of attention lately. In the October/November 2009 issue of East West magazine, an article by Navdeep Singh Dhillon titled, “The Brown Underground” discusses the five new names in hip-hop worth knowing. While on TLH we have featured these names in previous posts and are fans of their work – we wanted to highlight this new article as it provides a very intimate look at these artists. Musicians, rappers, emcees or whatever you may call them – they, at the end of the day, are regular guys (believe me, they are). They work, they go to school, they feel strongly about adversities that are going on all over the world. Unlike many, however, they are using their talent to channel that emotion into creativity and into their music. We definitely like what we’re hearing and whether they know it or not, these artists are paving a path for generations to come.

The article highlights the work of Canadian-based Humble the Poet and Sikh Knowledge, D.C.-based Saint Soulja of G.N.E., Hoodini from Los Angeles and Mandeep Sethi from San Francisco. You can read about their quest into this industry and how being a Sikh plays a role (or does not) in their music. What’s clear about these artists is that while they are Sikh, they don’t necessarily only rap about Sikh issues or only about issues affecting our community and that’s what makes them stand out in my mind. Injustice to any group is an injustice to humanity and as Sikhs, that is something we should resist. We can rest assured that these artists are having that dialogue.

Their music is informed by Sikh philosophies such as miri-piri, a religious tenet that advocates political and social activism to benefit society alongside individual spirituality. “I think it’s impossible to be a Sikh and not be an activist,” says D.C.-based rapper Tanmit Singh, known as “Saint Soulja.” ”Our entire faith is based around the concepts of being activists.”

What do you think – are Sikhs born to be activists? Does our activism stem from Sikhi? While i don’t believe it’s necessary to place a label on what we do or how we feel about global issues, what is important is that as individuals we begin to find ways to make positive changes in the world in which we live. And perhaps, soon we’ll be reading articles about young Sikh women who are making music alongside these artists!

The issue can be bought in stores or viewed online here.


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21 Responses to “For Many, Being a Sikh Means Being an Activist”

  1. A.Singh says:

    Word. Everything I do stems from my Sikhi.

  2. A.Singh says:

    Word. Everything I do stems from my Sikhi.

  3. rocco says:

    mad props to "poet warriors" Tanmit and Sunmit Singh.

  4. rocco says:

    mad props to "poet warriors" Tanmit and Sunmit Singh.

  5. Mani says:

    Sundari, thank you for making the point about highlighting Sikh women in the music industry. I know we have musicians out there who are women but i think it's much harder for them to be recognized.

  6. Mani says:

    Sundari, thank you for making the point about highlighting Sikh women in the music industry. I know we have musicians out there who are women but i think it’s much harder for them to be recognized.

  7. Sundari says:

    Mani — when you say it's harder for Sikh women to be "recognized" in music – what are you referring to? Cultural boundaries or industry boundaries?

  8. Sundari says:

    Mani — when you say it's harder for Sikh women to be "recognized" in music – what are you referring to? Cultural boundaries or industry boundaries?

  9. sonny says:

    yes! i think activism and fighting for social justice are inherent parts of sikhi. in fact it's a huge part of the reason this revolutionary faith and tradition began in the first place — to obliterate the caste system and other forms of oppression and tyranny in south asian society. fighting for social justice and equality is a spiritual obligation for sikhs and brings us closer to waheguru.

  10. sonny says:

    yes! i think activism and fighting for social justice are inherent parts of sikhi. in fact it's a huge part of the reason this revolutionary faith and tradition began in the first place — to obliterate the caste system and other forms of oppression and tyranny in south asian society. fighting for social justice and equality is a spiritual obligation for sikhs and brings us closer to waheguru.

  11. Sanehwal says:

    On the question of women in music, I think there might be some sort of connection (though I can't elucidate it) between the dastaar and recognition.
    Lahir in New York is featuring some sisters:


  12. Sanehwal says:

    On the question of women in music, I think there might be some sort of connection (though I can't elucidate it) between the dastaar and recognition.
    Lahir in New York is featuring some sisters:


  13. RP Singh says:

    Well said, Hoodini!

  14. RP Singh says:

    Well said, Hoodini!

  15. bandana says:

    word hoodini brotha.

  16. bandana says:

    word hoodini brotha.

  17. […] books and invited a panel of Creative Sikhs which included Shamsher Singh, Gurumustuk Singh, Tamnit Singh, Jagmeet Hoodini Singh, Navjot Kaur, Puneet Sira and Harvin Sethi among […]

  18. […] on TLH, we’ve covered a variety of talented musicians includingSikh Knowledge, Mandeep Sethi and Humble the Poet. We’ve been following these individuals, their music, new collaborations and of course new […]

  19. […] North America you should come!] be sure to check out this upcoming event featuring Humble the Poet, Mandeep Sethi, Hoodini, Baagi Gunjiv, DJ Rav-E and […]

  20. […] the Movement 2010 is anight of spoken word, poetry, music, and the arts. Artists will include G.N.E., Hoodini, Mandeep Sethi, Gunjiv “Baagi” Singh, MC G-Singh and Humble the Poet. The eventwill kickoff the movement to respect and protect Punjab bydonating all profits to […]

  21. […] to show them how we are choosing to commemorate. Be sure to check out theartists[also read For Many, Being a Sikh Means Being an Activist]. In the meantime, heres a preview ofone artist, name […]