As a society, we can’t continue to sleep on Indian music. It’s too emotive, too sample-able, and has a sound that’s too novel and exotic for our jaded-ass ears to ignore.
Rapper/ style god Heems is the exception. Being Punjabi himself, he’s known throughout the land for sampling a cubic infinity amount of classic Indian music in his own work, combining it with his own modern lyrics and production to create a sound that defies the boundaries of today’s hip-hop and rap.
So, we asked him to take us on a tour of the Indian music that most inspired his sound. What we got was like Brown Music 101: a catalog of Indian exemplars for people who overdosed on Pearl Jam and Weezer in their youth and never got a chance to explore the sonic universe outside Dayton, Ohio or whatever expanse of the American wasteland they incubated in. Most of the tracks he picked are classics plucked from Bollywood films of decades past, but there’s a few recent remixes and gems in his list as well.
Get at it:
1. “Kangna” by Fareed Ayaz & Abu Muhammad
Fifteen minutes of spiritual Sufi poetry and song performed live. I saw them in BK a few months ago and it was a religious experience.
2. “Arranged Marriage” by Apache Indian
3. “Gur Nalon Ishq Mitha (Boliyaan Hardcore Mix)” by Bally Sagoo
4. “Vikram Vikram” by Ilaiyaraaja
I can’t understand a word but I like this ’80s South Indian rap more than Grandmaster Flash.
5. “Eena Meena Deeka” by Asha Bhosle from the film Aasha
6. “Chaudhvin Ka Chand Ho” by Mohd.Rafi
My favorite actor/director in one of my favorite songs/films from early ’60s. Earliest use of color in Bollywood. Used only for the song.
7. “Tang Aa Chuke Hai” by Mohammed Rafi from the film Pyaasa
Not really a song, but …
8. “Aaj Mausam Bada Beimaan Hai” by Mohammed Rafi from the film Loafer
9. “Hum Ko Humi Se Chura Lo” by Lata Mangeshkar and Udit Narayan Jha from the film Mohabbatein
10. “Aap Jaisa Koi” by Nazia Hassan from the film Qurbani
Harry Fraud and I sampled this …
… to make this:
And this: a live interview with Shiv Kumar Batalvi
This is my favorite interview ever and it has an Acapella of him singing one of his poems/songs. It’s rare to find his own voice – usually others singing his work. He died young.
I sampled it for a side project w a UK rapper/actor. Redinho produced our second EP.
Heems’ latest album, Eat Pray Thug, is out now, and you can find it here. In the meantime, check out this music video for “Sometimes” he did with Eric Andre and Hannibal Buress, and read this interview about sex we did with him.
Heems is coming to serenade you in all his glory on July 27 at the upcoming Check Yo Ponytail show. Check him out alongside 1NFINITY artist Pictureplane, Bosco, and sex-proclaimed sex god, Speak!