Growing Up with Inderjit Bains: On Sikhi, Bhangra, and even Jazzy B

Guest Blogged by Mewa Singh

No, I didnt actually grow up with Inderjit Bains, but by the end of the post, youll get it.

singhandikaum.jpgFor those that have been following the North American bhangra scene, since its inception (remember, DJ Sunshine, DJ Guru, – I never liked DJ Jiten’s Hindi remixes – and, yes, even DJ Russell Peters), then the name Inderjit Bains needs no introduction.

In North America, bhangra started with remix DJs in Toronto, but it took Inderjit Singh Bains to help change the scene. It was he, as a pioneer, that helped launch North Americas first true bhangra star Jazzy B (although at the time, few of us would ever admit to it and spent most of our days hating on Jazzys various haircuts on bootleg tape covers).

The trajectory of North American bhangra, influenced in the early 1990s with the explosion of Westcoast gangster rap and especially G-funk, reshaped the global bhangra scene. While UK artists like Apache Indian and Bally Sagoo were doing their own type of hybridity with reggae and bhangra, Inderjit Bains was successful in bridging a folk sound with hip-hop influenced bhangra beats. He found a formula. After the success of Jazzy B, he helped launch the career of Central Californias Bhinda Jatt (Bhinda took the early 90s gangster image, much further than Jazzy did, during that time), Madan Maddi and even Sukhshinder Shinda.

My fellow langa(w)r-iter wrote about his latest project working with a kindred social activist spirit in the artist Taranampreet on her song Teri Meri Bas: Sat Sri Akal. While the focus on that post was on the role play women play mens upkeep of the Sikh appearance (will we ever get a song on the role men play on the womens upkeep of the Sikh appearance?), I want to take a bit of a different angle.

The same langa(w)-riter last week wrote a magnum opus on the need to develop our Sikhi through love. In some way, not only do we need to extend that love to our family members, but also to the rest of our community. In a previous discussion on TLH, some commenters disparagingly referred to other members of our Sikh community as nothing more than engaging in disco-bhangra culture (do people really listen to disco still?). I responded then, but now have a forum to extrapolate on my thoughts.

People grow up and go through their own evolution. Inderjit Bains was a pioneer in the North American bhangra scene and had an impact throughout the entire global industry. However, it was that early connection to his ethnos and to his culture that is beginning to take firm root and actually flower. In a recent interview, he stated:

I introduced fresh new artists, made them stars and let them go, he said by phone from Surrey, Canada.

But after 20 years in the business, he said he had had enough of artists that only cared about making money. And he had enough of the bhangra industry, which has gone by way of the rap industry, he said. They send negative messages and promote drinking, drugs and fighting.

(Our) Gurus have done a lot for us, he said. Its our duty to do something for the community. Sikhs, especially the youth, look at these stars and begin to think that if they dont wear a dastaar and they dont keep their kesh, that is okay, he said. He found his calling to make inspiring videos in Taranampreet.[emphasis added][link]

This is hardly financially rewarding. In the same interview, he admitted:

Making music videos has become a struggle for Inderjit Singh. He is spending his own money and making little in return. The Teri Meri Bas video cost Rs. 4 lakhs.[link]

Sometimes those that are a bit older have seen plenty of members of that first and second generation of bhangra culture members evolve, like Inderjit Bains, to want something more and become connected to Sikhi. Often when we ourselves are in the 18-22 year old age group, we believe people stagnate and we know how they will always act. We hurl abuses whether it be – casteism, elitism, sexism, etc.

However, life truly is a journey and those older can truly give perspective. Even someone engaged in bhangra culture may land a seed of Sikhi. I know, when I was younger (as can be exhibited by all the music links) I was completely engaged in ‘bhangra’ culture. For me, my conscientious towards Sikhi came a bit later and I have been engrossed since. Encourage your brothers and sisters (first off see them as your brothers and sisters) rather than ‘judge’ them.

With my own example, I always remember to give that seed love, instead of disdain, and that plant that can grow in the Khyber, in the Lakhi Jungle, and even in the walls of Sirhind will sprout out. The reason is simple from the voice of Gurpal Singh Pal and from the pen of Professor Mohan Singh.


bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark

9 Responses to “Growing Up with Inderjit Bains: On Sikhi, Bhangra, and even Jazzy B”

  1. Lol….. I know the whole truth … …this is load of bo**ox…

  2. Lol….. I know the whole truth … …this is load of bo**ox…

  3. Nickie says:

    i want to know the truth. what is the truth?

  4. Nickie says:

    i want to know the truth. what is the truth?

  5. hello singh says:

    yeah that is soo true

  6. hello singh says:

    yeah that is soo true

  7. […] in the diaspora due to his comedic talents, those of us a little bit older remember him from his DJ days during the modern birth of contemporary bhangra […]

  8. ajit dhanjal says:

    keep it up

  9. bhangrahead says:

    British bhangra with bands was the real deal bhangra. Jazzy bains etc
    Just brought rural truck obcene antI gurmat truck driver music from the villlages
    And mixed it with garbage hip hop all the while creating nothing new and original

    Bhangra will allways be bands like alaap azaad heera etc

    Folk singers are anti sikh

    Folk aint bhangra