Is RDB really the best we have to offer?

In many ways, the Punjabi-Sikh art scene is expanding exponentially these days. Just 10 years ago, beyond major, mainstream singers, I don’t think there was an arts scene, except maybe in people’s homes. Today, there are film festivals in most major cities like Spinning Wheel and the upcoming Sikh Heritage Film Fest in NY, art exhibits in museums such as the recent exhibit at NY’s Rubin Museum and current exhibit at the London’s Victoria and Albert, and even spoken word shows like When Lions Roar and Lahir. There are independent artists writing thoughtful lyrics, creating original beats, and giving some of our community’s concerns a voice. One of my favorites from this summer is Humble the Poet’s “Singh with Me” featuring Sikh Knowledge.

Yet, while the number and modes of art and artists grows in our community, many mainstream musicians are following RDB.jpgmainstream trends… videos featuring flashy cars rented for the shot, women as props, all at some party. Maybe they’re catering to what they think the audience wants, but the audience is clamoring for what they see as glamorous… which is manufactured to cater to the whims of the audience. This degenerative, downward spiral has led to recent hits such as RDB’s “Om Mangalam.” (See end of post.)

RDB is clearly identifiable as Punjabi-Sikh (let’s not talk about who’s a good or bad Sikh- that’s boring), wearing the now fashionable Palestinian support scarf, and singing Om Mangalam in this video on the homepage of their official site. This is definitely a case of trying to do too much and doing it all badly. There’s nothing inherently wrong with being Punjabi, singing Hindi music (while wearing a Palestinian support scarf), in a video with meaningless lyrics. It’s just not art. Some might call it entertainment, though I’d call it a train wreck.

RDB can make whatever music they want, I don’t have to buy it or listen to it. Maybe they don’t even consider themselves artists, but rather, entertainers.

But when they’re the headlining act at the Sikh Heritage Film Festival’s gala, I have to wonder whether that’s really the best our community has to offer. Is RDB really representative of our heritage? I don’t see how.

From all appearances, the Festival looks like a legitimate affair for Sikhs to explore and celebrate Sikhs’ artistic endeavors. The venue, the Asia Society and Museum, is a highly reputable international organization. The films being showcased cover an interesting spectrum of form and substance: documentaries, feature films, and shorts on topics spanning history, memory, music and poetry. So where does RDB fit in?

I don’t want to be overly and unnecessarily critical because I don’t know what decisions the Sikh Heritage Film Festival organizers were making, and what concerns they were balancing. But I do think that given number of rising artists in our community, and the purpose of the Film Fest, perhaps space could also have been made for up and coming musicians to showcase their talents too.

For your viewing pleasure, Om Mangalam:

YouTube Preview Image

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47 Responses to “Is RDB really the best we have to offer?”

  1. justasikh says:

    RDB's ascent into bollywood to represent the "sikh" image reminds me of the classic Goodness Gracious Me skit of "The meaning of being a sikh"

    When visible articles are disconnected from their meaning, and spreading that meaning, you end up with a puppet trying to define themselves. The Goodness gracious me skit validates one thing: People either blindly follow, make up their own meaning, or best of all, both.

    So, RDB, makes music. They want to take sikhs to a larger audience. Do you do it through the mainstream music video ways of the UK, or take it back to bollywood?

    I am not sure if RDB's pursuit of bollywood should be confused with them being sikhs. Obviously, they are, but I don't know if there's a conscious connection. Being visible in bollywood is one thing. Being visible in a way that is not savoury or confusing is another.

    This leads to the age old definition of artistry going into two camps. The introverted artists do it for the love of the art, like a painter who paints for painting's sake, and not so much who or what comes from it. The extroverted artists are all about the fame, and the art is a vehicle to get there.

    What is what, I guess we can all decide for ourselves.

  2. justasikh says:

    RDB’s ascent into bollywood to represent the “sikh” image reminds me of the classic Goodness Gracious Me skit of “The meaning of being a sikh” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cVqA8qBOlQ

    When visible articles are disconnected from their meaning, and spreading that meaning, you end up with a puppet trying to define themselves. The Goodness gracious me skit validates one thing: People either blindly follow, make up their own meaning, or best of all, both.

    So, RDB, makes music. They want to take sikhs to a larger audience. Do you do it through the mainstream music video ways of the UK, or take it back to bollywood?

    I am not sure if RDB’s pursuit of bollywood should be confused with them being sikhs. Obviously, they are, but I don’t know if there’s a conscious connection. Being visible in bollywood is one thing. Being visible in a way that is not savoury or confusing is another.

    This leads to the age old definition of artistry going into two camps. The introverted artists do it for the love of the art, like a painter who paints for painting’s sake, and not so much who or what comes from it. The extroverted artists are all about the fame, and the art is a vehicle to get there.

    What is what, I guess we can all decide for ourselves.

  3. rebel out a verb says:

    It is rather funny that these guys are performing with rickshaw or akshay or whoever the guy who plays the most hinduised Sikh character on film.

    The rickshay guy is riding these Rdb boys horsey style to the piggy passa bank. And if punjabi Sikhs want to help him in the name of selling out with a bang its their choice.

    It is hilarious that Rdb is wearing the Palestinian scarf, palestenian and jews alike are probably cringing, they would probably kick these Rdb guys where it hurts most males but to no affect. Even the taliban wouldn't want these guys near them.

    Whats even more hilarious is Reema stating "lets not discuss what a good and bad Sikh is", okie.

    Lets see throwing away money, [edited by admin], roti eating [edited], cars, justin tumblelake dancing script, alcohol, buncha of guys who couldnt get the time of day from a [edited]. Yup sounds like a british punjabi party.

    Some groups just need to stay underground.

  4. rebel out a verb says:

    Moderator,

    Those arent curse words I wrote in there, the words you edited were women, women, and transvestite.

    Why are you trying to ride a dead high horse?

    Yours trufly,

    Sham Article

  5. Admin says:

    Sham Article/Rebel out a verb:

    You used a derogatory word for women and referred to transvestites of a specific regional group, clearly intending to insult. Both of those are inappropriate.

    Also, switching handles will get you blocked. Pick one- sham article or rebel out a verb. Consider yourself warned. Next time you'll be blocked.

    If you want to discuss any of the above further, send us an email: [email protected].

    Thanks.

  6. rebel out a verb says:

    It is rather funny that these guys are performing with rickshaw or akshay or whoever the guy who plays the most hinduised Sikh character on film.

    The rickshay guy is riding these Rdb boys horsey style to the piggy passa bank. And if punjabi Sikhs want to help him in the name of selling out with a bang its their choice.

    It is hilarious that Rdb is wearing the Palestinian scarf, palestenian and jews alike are probably cringing, they would probably kick these Rdb guys where it hurts most males but to no affect. Even the taliban wouldn’t want these guys near them.

    Whats even more hilarious is Reema stating “lets not discuss what a good and bad Sikh is”, okie.

    Lets see throwing away money, [edited by admin], roti eating [edited], cars, justin tumblelake dancing script, alcohol, buncha of guys who couldnt get the time of day from a [edited]. Yup sounds like a british punjabi party.

    Some groups just need to stay underground.

  7. rebel out a verb says:

    Moderator,

    Those arent curse words I wrote in there, the words you edited were women, women, and transvestite.

    Why are you trying to ride a dead high horse?

    Yours trufly,

    Sham Article

  8. Admin says:

    Sham Article/Rebel out a verb:

    You used a derogatory word for women and referred to transvestites of a specific regional group, clearly intending to insult. Both of those are inappropriate.

    Also, switching handles will get you blocked. Pick one- sham article or rebel out a verb. Consider yourself warned. Next time you’ll be blocked.

    If you want to discuss any of the above further, send us an email: [email protected].

    Thanks.

  9. rocco says:

    RDB and Tigerstyle are both young Panjabi DJ/Bhangra acts that come out of the UK around the same time. Though both have made contribution to the Panjabi language/culture, Tigerstyle realizes the larger mission and is proactive in putting out dharmik/music related to the 1984 Genocides as well as commercially successful Bhangra.

    Please see link
    http://sikhsangat.org/2009/09/sikhs-make-history-

    Clearly the organizers of the Festival don't know their music and are "slaves to the hype". Tigerstyle would have been a more appropriate and spirited choice.

  10. rocco says:

    RDB and Tigerstyle are both young Panjabi DJ/Bhangra acts that come out of the UK around the same time. Though both have made contribution to the Panjabi language/culture, Tigerstyle realizes the larger mission and is proactive in putting out dharmik/music related to the 1984 Genocides as well as commercially successful Bhangra.
    Please see link
    http://sikhsangat.org/2009/09/sikhs-make-history-come-alive-at-the-tower-of-london/

    Clearly the organizers of the Festival don’t know their music and are “slaves to the hype”. Tigerstyle would have been a more appropriate and spirited choice.

  11. fire on ice says:

    What a hypocrite you are Reema,

    I guess when you write an article its called constructive criticism, when someone else writes comments its called discrimination.

    The site is suppose to be a Sikh site, but lets not discuss Sikhism.

    In that case why are you jealous? What is Rdb really doing other than 'making it'. I can just imagine you listening to misogynistic rap and then crying foul when you crush the heck out of that bully pull pit you call your morality.

    You are full of it.

  12. fire on ice says:

    What a hypocrite you are Reema,

    I guess when you write an article its called constructive criticism, when someone else writes comments its called discrimination.

    The site is suppose to be a Sikh site, but lets not discuss Sikhism.

    In that case why are you jealous? What is Rdb really doing other than ‘making it’. I can just imagine you listening to misogynistic rap and then crying foul when you crush the heck out of that bully pull pit you call your morality.

    You are full of it.

  13. Reema says:

    Thanks Fire on Ice,

    I appreciate your constructive criticism.

    Sincerely,

    Reema

    p.s. Nope, not jealous- just bored of the conversation of who's a good Sikh, who's a bad Sikh.

    p.p.s. You're right- I LOVE misogynistic rap. (I hope you can hear my sarcasm.)

  14. Reema says:

    Thanks Fire on Ice,

    I appreciate your constructive criticism.

    Sincerely,
    Reema

    p.s. Nope, not jealous- just bored of the conversation of who’s a good Sikh, who’s a bad Sikh.

    p.p.s. You’re right- I LOVE misogynistic rap. (I hope you can hear my sarcasm.)

  15. P.Singh says:

    lol – wow Reema – why you always getting so much love on these threads :)

  16. P.Singh says:

    lol – wow Reema – why you always getting so much love on these threads :)

  17. fire on ice says:

    P. Singh,

    Reema and capt. crunch jodha, have their views, thats fine.

    It's not me thats hating on them, just that when these twins get going they exhibit 'the gora that doesnt believe in political correctness but how dare you say that because its not right since I say didnt believe that attitude, get out my country, get off my website' …….cant stand it, can't let up on them, even if I must use another proxy server to combat it.

    They have tried to keep me kicked off this site so many times.

    Its like I'm trying to catch a flight out of San Fran.

    But no problems, sometimes you just have to note the difference between who pretends to care for what you have to say but they hate you and the other who will fight with you but still has love for what you believe in.

  18. fire on ice says:

    P. Singh,

    Reema and capt. crunch jodha, have their views, thats fine.

    It’s not me thats hating on them, just that when these twins get going they exhibit ‘the gora that doesnt believe in political correctness but how dare you say that because its not right since I say didnt believe that attitude, get out my country, get off my website’ …….cant stand it, can’t let up on them, even if I must use another proxy server to combat it.

    They have tried to keep me kicked off this site so many times.

    Its like I’m trying to catch a flight out of San Fran.

    But no problems, sometimes you just have to note the difference between who pretends to care for what you have to say but they hate you and the other who will fight with you but still has love for what you believe in.

  19. […] week, Reema discussed the dynamic Punjabi-Sikh art scene. We’ve come a long way, especially in the field of film […]

  20. Deep says:

    There is nothing wrong with Reema not wanting to discuss what makes a 'Good Sikh or a Bad Sikh'. This discussion can take away from her intentions.

    We should start organizing our own events instead. When Lions Roar was a great event that brought together artists such as Humble the Poet and Sikh Knowledge, showcasing positive Sikh personalities geared towards positive advancements of our community.

  21. Deep says:

    There is nothing wrong with Reema not wanting to discuss what makes a ‘Good Sikh or a Bad Sikh’. This discussion can take away from her intentions.

    We should start organizing our own events instead. When Lions Roar was a great event that brought together artists such as Humble the Poet and Sikh Knowledge, showcasing positive Sikh personalities geared towards positive advancements of our community.

  22. singh4life says:

    I dont think there is anything wrong with RDB. They are just trying to make good music. I guess people have a problem with them because they are more main stream and not your typical 100% sikhs. Yes they probally drink and they do trim there beards but people need to rembember being a sikh is more than just having a sikh identity. Nobody on these boards personally knows these guys so to make assumptins about them is stupid.

    I have meet sikhs who dont keep there beards and hair, and drink but are some of the nicest people you will meet. Converselly I have meet sikhs who keep there identity 100% but lie, cheat and have evil hearts.

    Who are we to judge, only god does that.

  23. singh4life says:

    I dont think there is anything wrong with RDB. They are just trying to make good music. I guess people have a problem with them because they are more main stream and not your typical 100% sikhs. Yes they probally drink and they do trim there beards but people need to rembember being a sikh is more than just having a sikh identity. Nobody on these boards personally knows these guys so to make assumptins about them is stupid.

    I have meet sikhs who dont keep there beards and hair, and drink but are some of the nicest people you will meet. Converselly I have meet sikhs who keep there identity 100% but lie, cheat and have evil hearts.

    Who are we to judge, only god does that.

  24. fire on ice says:

    Overall RDB just seems like a toolbox on the back of a rickshaw pulled along by akshay kumar(rickshay).

    Rickshay seemed to have been trying to jump on the lucrative punjabi Sikh highway, and he couldn’t get his wheels moving until he used these guys to fix himself up.

    There’s a number of Sikhs trying to get things going in terms of Sikhism in the U.K. But they should be careful of allowing such influences from mainstream India to pollute their style. Because they make them weak.

    Who really wants to identify with India? Even people who have gone thru slavery would not want to endure being associated with being indian. All these indian kids abroad try to associate with anything other than being indian. They go so far to escape it, join gangs, call each other the n word, some will even go a different route, change their names to henry, join chess club and get called the other n word (nerd), but not indian.

    And overall the indian art scene has been like watching crack cocaine come to life on screen and that was before crack cocaine existed. All those movies where they show amitabummin fighting, the guys makes bert and ernie from sesame street look like two characters from Reservoir Dogs.

    I hope other Sikh artist learn from RDB’s mistake, don’t sell out to the rupee, let rickshay walk if he can’t peddle. Its not that just Sikhs noticed but all of cool society.

  25. fire on ice says:

    Overall RDB just seems like a toolbox on the back of a rickshaw pulled along by akshay kumar(rickshay).

    Rickshay seemed to have been trying to jump on the lucrative punjabi Sikh highway, and he couldnt get his wheels moving until he used these guys to fix himself up.

    Theres a number of Sikhs trying to get things going in terms of Sikhism in the U.K. But they should be careful of allowing such influences from mainstream India to pollute their style. Because they make them weak.

    Who really wants to identify with India? Even people who have gone thru slavery would not want to endure being associated with being indian. All these indian kids abroad try to associate with anything other than being indian. They go so far to escape it, join gangs, call each other the n word, some will even go a different route, change their names to henry, join chess club and get called the other n word (nerd), but not indian.

    And overall the indian art scene has been like watching crack cocaine come to life on screen and that was before crack cocaine existed. All those movies where they show amitabummin fighting, the guys makes bert and ernie from sesame street look like two characters from Reservoir Dogs.

    I hope other Sikh artist learn from RDBs mistake, dont sell out to the rupee, let rickshay walk if he cant peddle. Its not that just Sikhs noticed but all of cool society.

  26. GulabSinghShakhrpara says:

    Every time a recognizable Sikh attains a small level of success in the mainstream arena – he is automatically subjected to ridicule and condemnation by his own community. RDB are musicians – nothing more and nothing else. Jesus. Enough already. Let them do their thing. If you like it, great! If not, turn the TV off!!!

  27. GulabSinghShakhrpara says:

    Every time a recognizable Sikh attains a small level of success in the mainstream arena – he is automatically subjected to ridicule and condemnation by his own community. RDB are musicians – nothing more and nothing else. Jesus. Enough already. Let them do their thing. If you like it, great! If not, turn the TV off!!!

  28. SIngh09122 says:

    Great article – Humble The Poet the poet's track SIngh with me was def a summer high!

  29. SIngh09122 says:

    Great article – Humble The Poet the poet's track SIngh with me was def a summer high!

  30. changarjit says:

    You guys just have nothing better to do than making a something out of nothing and blowing it up for your own peace and satisfaction. You are all educated. THINK OUT OF THE BOX~~~ N LET PPL WHO ARE DOING WELL LIVE PEACEFULLY….

  31. changarjit says:

    You guys just have nothing better to do than making a something out of nothing and blowing it up for your own peace and satisfaction. You are all educated. THINK OUT OF THE BOX~~~ N LET PPL WHO ARE DOING WELL LIVE PEACEFULLY….

  32. Deep Hundal says:

    We have Humble the Poet, Mandeep Sethi, Hoodini, Sikh Knowledge, Saint Soldier, etc etc etc.









  33. Deep Hundal says:

    We have Humble the Poet, Mandeep Sethi, Hoodini, Sikh Knowledge, Saint Soldier, etc etc etc.









  34. Roop Dhillon says:

    http://apnaorg.com/articles/virsa/

    This offering looks good…scroll down to bottom to see YOUTUBE link

  35. Roop Dhillon says:

    http://apnaorg.com/articles/virsa/

    This offering looks good…scroll down to bottom to see YOUTUBE link

  36. california singh says:

    your not making any sense what is wrong with rdb??? there three sikh guys doing their thing do they have to ask you like your their mom if its ok to make music since it might be controversial to sikhi…….besides most sikh males are clean shaven now especially in the entertainment industry so instead of appreciate the brothers you are complaining…..typical punjabi behavior always hating on everything

  37. california singh says:

    your not making any sense what is wrong with rdb??? there three sikh guys doing their thing do they have to ask you like your their mom if its ok to make music since it might be controversial to sikhi…….besides most sikh males are clean shaven now especially in the entertainment industry so instead of appreciate the brothers you are complaining…..typical punjabi behavior always hating on everything

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