Punjabi rap sensation Bohemia, on working with Akshay Kumar and his album, Da Rap Star.. Nikhil Taneja is all ears.
How’s Da Rap Star different from your last album, Pesa Nasha Pyaar?
My overall style is a little dark but it’s grown up a lot now. I’ve done a lot of things differently this time. For one, the album is more musical. It has 15 brand new tracks, written, composed and sung by me.<b2>
Your songs are usually about the problems faced by Asian kids in the U S. What sort of problems did you go through?
I migrated to the U S in 1992-93. We weren’t well-off so we could only afford an apartment in a neighbourhood where the crime rate was high, and kids got easily influenced by crime. I couldn’t gel with others because my English wasn’t good and I had just lost my mom. I was very lonely at the time. Music was a blessing.. I pulled up my bootstraps and started writing rap. That distracted me from all the nonsense around.
What made you rap in Punjabi?
Punjabi and Hindi helped me stay true to my roots. I started by playing at birthday parties for friends. Around the time, I lost a friend, Suresh, to violence. He was from Chandigarh. That was the changing point in my life.. I started making music not to impress but to express myself better. Punjabi helped me do that.
When did you realise that your music had caught on in a big way?
After a few years, local papers like the San Fransisco Chronicles started approaching me for interviews. I had made an independent C D, literally at home on my computer. B B C Radio, U K, got hold of it and gave me a call. (Chuckles)
And I realised I must be doing something right!
Jagjit Singh and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan are your idols.. right? Do you look up to anyone from the Bhangra scene too?
I like them because they were pioneers of their genres. I appreciate their originality .. they aren’t followers, but leaders. They dedicated their lives to earning respect, and I want that too. From Bhangra, Malkit Singh and Bally Sagoo have influenced me a lot.
Did you ever get to meet your idols?
I once saw Jagjit Singh live at a concert. I ran behind his car after the show but the driver was too fast! (Laughs) If I can run behind his car on this trip, I’ll do it again!
I actually got to work with Bally Sagoo.. I went on a month long tour with him to the U K. That was an honour.
You’ve been collaborating with Akshay Kumar a lot.
Some time ago, Akshay Kumar was on TV. My dad was watching. He told me that he loved Akshay’s work and I remember thinking, “Man! I wish I could work with him!” After a month, he was on the phone telling me he liked my music!
He invited me to the red carpet of Singh is Kinng and said he wanted us to work together. The biggest coincidence was that he had worked with Snoop Dogg for the film and I’ve worked with Snoop Dogg too. I told my dad, “You know the actor you appreciated? He wants to work with your son.”
How’s it been working with him?
I respect Akshay.. we’ve worked together in Chandni Chowk to China (CC2C) and 8 x 10 Tasveer. Though I had worked with Mika on a track the last time I was in India for a tour, it was Akshay who got me some huge opportunities in Bollywood.
Do you plan to settle down in Mumbai now?
CC2C has put me on a plane, back and forth, so many times that I’ve been seriously considering moving to Mumbai. I’m sure it will happen soon.. there are so many people I want to work with.
Govinda is a favourite! I love Bappi Lahiri and A R Rahman too. But right now, I’ll just concentrate on my album.
E-mail author: email@example.com