Big bangs of British Asian music
By: ASJAD NAZIR
FROM A TO Z OF A 2021 FULL OF ACTION FULL OF HEIGHTS, MEMORABLE MOMENTS AND NEW TALENTS
AFTER a few relatively calm years, it has been an action-packed year for British Asian artists and music, with interesting songs, albums, performances, returns and innovations.
There have also been disruptive artists and emerging talent, which is a good sign.
Eye of the East looked back on the past year to highlight Britain’s most memorable moments with everything you need to know from A to Z of 2021.
A is for Apache Indian: The outspoken music icon called for the shutdown of the BBC Asian Network and cited the wrongdoing of the publicly funded radio station. He was backed by much of the industry, including music legend Malkit Singh, who called out the struggling broadcaster for ageism.
B is for Bally Sagoo: The British music icon made a stunning comeback with his comeback album Next Level, which featured great tracks like Bhangra Jawan Ho Gaya, Kinna Chauna, Tu Mainu Milja Ve, Sakhiyan Saheliyan, Yeh Rooh Bhi Tumhari Hai, Mera Mascara and Tu Aaja Nachle. It has also made vinyl records and special CDs available for those who want a collector’s edition.
This is for Charli XCX: The half-Indian pop sensation has had another big year packed with hit songs and cool collaborations. She delivered the magnificent documentary Alone together, who charted the entire recording process for her stunning 2020 Lockdown album How i feel now and started work on his fifth album.
D is for Darbar: The annual Darbar Music Festival, now in its 16th year, returned to London after a digital edition in 2020, with concerts of Indian classical music and talks featuring renowned artists. Some of the most notable artists were Ustad Waseem Khan, Kaushiki Chakraborty, Pandit Kushal Das, Sukhwinder Singh, Roopa Panesar, Jyotsna Shrikanth, and Ken Zuckerman.
E is for EP: A great British EP that deserved a lot more attention than it maybe got was the astonishment #No filter by Anita. The talented singer-songwriter created the soulful songs 5 foot 1, best life, ghost, loser and No filter at home during confinement. She said, âIt’s something I’ve wanted to do for quite some time in response to social media and hashtag culture – the things I love about it and the things that bother me. The songs on the EP really document my thoughts and feelings during the pandemic. “
F is for FLEXXX: The singing sensation Nish continued to take Bangla music to great heights in UK that it had never reached before with more amazing song releases like FLEXXX (Gulli Maro). The innovative artist combined catchy contemporary rhythms with lovely bangla lyrical flow and soft vocals on an excellent track, accompanied by a stunning video clip with subtitles.
G is for Gujarati: Australian and UK-based hip hop star RaOol released his limit-
breaking four tracks EP Gujarat Standing. The first high-profile Gujarati hip-hop compilation brought together artists from four different continents and laid the groundwork for a whole new commercial music scene. Plus, the talented British singer Geeta Jhala did something a little different by delivering her first love song in Gujarati. Have Maani Jaane.
H is for Hunterz: The singer, musician and songwriter has made a welcome return with his song Tera Dil Mujeh Dede, who saw him team up with formidable new singer Aminah. This year he also founded a new studio and label London Inc and said: âIt’s a new start for me. I am musically reborn and you will hear it in every piece of music I touch, including this new song. This is the start of a special journey and I hope you will all accompany me on it.
I is for independent artists: It has been another year of exciting new acts by British Asian artists forging their own way without the backing of a major label. Some of the most notable British Asian independent artists include singer-songwriter Inder Paul Sandhu, who delivered the impressive single Monster, and multi-talented Maya Lakhani, who sang, wrote, recorded and produced her song. Walk alone entirely from his room during confinement.
J is for Jassi Sidhu: British bhangra icon has battled career-threatening illness with consecutive singles outings Kudi Chandigarh Di, Jatt Warga and Ball. He said, âThese songs show the three sides of Jassi Sidhu. I didn’t know if these would be the last three songs, I was physically going to be able to come out. I just wanted to give something to the people who took this trip with me.
K is for Kiranee: Mumbai-based multitalented British singer admirably mixed
record songs with the direction of the label Break The Noise with the ace producer Rishi Rich, which gives a platform to new talent. The label’s releases included the excellent EP 3 chapters. She said, “Set up 3 chapters This is an idea I brought to Rishi because I wanted to put together a small body of work to present multiple genres of music at all levels, with a hint of international flavor and nostalgia. It’s amazing to see this vision come to life.
L is for live music: All of the performers who were locked up during the Covid-19 pandemic were able to perform again in front of a live audience and this included great international singers like Rahat Fateh Ali Khan returning for major UK tours. Sonu Nigam also made a welcome return with a big live show, but Arijit Singh, Neha Kakkar and Jubin Nautiyal have postponed their tours until 2022.
M is for the money: More and more musical artists have taken control of their finances and found ways to deal directly with fans. Singer-songwriter Bat For Lashes has followed UK artist MIA on the Patreon platform, allowing creative talent to sell direct to fans, based on subscriptions purchased.
N is for Navin Kundra: One of the greatest heroes in British Asian lockdown music was Navin Kundra. The singer, songwriter and musician selflessly offered free concerts every Saturday for a year to boost the spirits of those in isolation. When things opened up, he delivered his brilliant concert of Voice Of Legends to a live audience. N is also for Naughty Boy – the music producer ace has appeared in reality TV shows Cooking with the stars and I’m a celebrity, get me out of here.
O is for Ovation: Perhaps the most critically acclaimed album of the year is Nitin Sawhney’s Immigrants. The acclaimed musician’s official sequel to his 1999 flagship album Beyond Skin received rave reviews across the board and had cross-cultural appeal.
P is for Podcast: Metz & Trix unleash their explosive podcast Stream state This year. The dynamite rap duo delivered entertaining episodes with talks about new music, interviews and hilarious moments. Chart-topping singer Jay Sean continued to entertain listeners with his podcast Basement joke.
Q is for Qawwali: Perhaps the best online gig of the year was a stunning tribute to late Qawwali maestro Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan by British music group KayKay & Co. Their Remembering Nusrat – Khiraj-e-Tehseen, a tribute, which is still available, included the stunning voices of British singers Rekha, Anj Chauhan, Abira Shah, Parry Mad and Shahid Abbas Khan. Meanwhile, UK-based Chand Ali Khan and his Qawwali band have had a superb UK tour.
R is for Raf-Saperra: Exciting newcomer Raf-Saperra has brought Punjabi folk back into British music in a significant way. The London-born singer, who has been compared to bhangra faithful Jazzy B, has gone from singing covers of classics to reviving the British Asian bhangra scene with big tracks as his latest outing. Snake charmer.
S is for Spiritual: There have been great spiritual albums released in 2021. Manika Kaur used some of the rarer instruments on her Sikh devotional album ek. London singer Bhavik Haria has released his seven-track crowd-funded bhajan album Roots and changes. Acclaimed musician Kaykay Chauhan released the unique multi-faith album Spirit and soul, who explored various faiths and featured an impressive array of singers.
T is for adolescents: Many young talents emerged in 2021, including 14-year-old Londoner Shrinaya, who released her first single. Swag Bada Athra in July.
U is for UB40: Legendary British band UB40 released the album Bigga Baggariddim, which is packed with global collaborations, including a big track with General Zooz from Indian group Reggae Rajahs, who said, âIt’s an absolute honor to have collaborated with UB40 on the song, Roots Rock Reggae. I grew up listening to them on cassettes, so it was a pretty surreal experience.
V is for Vee: British music producer Vee continued to make huge waves in India with more hit tracks which included Munde Mar Gaye and Bengali nain, which were great collaborations with chart-topping singer Guru Randhawa.
W is for We are lady pieces: Channel 4’s six-part musical introduced us to the Muslim female punk group called Lady Parts and their unique brand of thrashing guitar music. One of the most original comedy series of 2021 mixed original punk songs with surprisingly awesome covers.
X is for factor X: On July 28, 2021, ITV announced that the musical reality TV show The X factor had been deleted. It didn’t really help British Asians much, but deserves a mention here for gifting Zayn Malik to the pop world.
Y is for Yesterday: This year saw the launch of Lyca Gold, which became the UK’s first radio station dedicated to broadcasting classic Bollywood film music. The golden oldies have proven to be popular and have set the resort up for a great 2022.
Z is for Zayn: Pop superstar Zayn Malik had a terrible start to 2021 with his third album Nobody is listening being a huge failure. The British singer launched a scathing attack on the Grammy Awards and accused them of being corrupt after being ignored in nominations at the 63rd ceremony, despite his album not being eligible and having gone bad. He ended the year with a messy separation from his partner Gigi Hadid. Z is also for Zaheer – the British music producer had a good year which included his singles So lost and Just a kiss, both of which starred famous British singer Jamie Stimpson.