The1Shanti :: India Bambaataa
The title of The1Shanti's new "India Bambaataa" may have many wondering how he can get away with using the Bambaataa name (of Afrika fame). Here's the backstory:
The1Shanti - a South Asian MC (from Calcutta to Brooklyn) who began mc'ing at the age of 8 and got street cred through his "Blaxploitation" single, where he was "embraced as the first Indian MC to have emerged from New York's underground hip hop scene." He been doing his thing for the past 15 years, and is known more recently for his collaborations with DDP (Dum Dum Project) on Supafly Bindi, Punjabi Five-0, and Jaani Jaan.
The "Bambaataa" - Afrika Bambaataa of the Universal Zulu Nation has said the following to The1Shanti; "You have our blessings as long as you use your name in the good of your people and the good of yourself. You have our blessings as long as you make whatever funky music you make to rock/funk the world. You have our blessings as long as you use your mind, body and soul to use your music as a tool to fight for justice for our Indian brothers and sisters who have a lot of problems in India and need a person like you, who is starting to get international status, to speak out about your Indian heritage and not let no one in the world forget your roots and your people's roots." Having the honor and blessings from one of hip-hop's founding fathers deserves respect in and of itself. But does he have what it takes?
The music - Starting off strong with the title "India Bambaataa," the track sets an upbeat groovy feel laced with tumbi loops giving it a bit of a bhangra feel. True east coast rhymes served up by The1Shanti are coupled with Marko Dutta's (R&B artist from Houston) hook & Sho'Nuff's (artist/producer NYC) back up vox. Elite (MC Ruff Ryders) balances the track off with a contrasting rhyme style, which makes it reminiscent of a Timbaland and Magoo combo. A definite groove rider and great way to get the party started.
The next track "Broken Promises" is a nice transition from club bangin' to maxin' and relaxin' Sunday-style music. The1Shanti shows his range of rhyme and technique here, his verse becomes more lyrically conscious, and covers the struggle of being South Asian and trying to make it in the music business. This track is important to see the variety that The1Shanti can bring.
"C'mon Now" shines through as a true gem which some listeners could overlook. It's a funked out track dishing out a nujazz feel. With drums, snares, violins and Sho'Nuff's luscious vocals "C'mon Now" will keep your head bobbing while you chant your "street mantras" walking down the sidewalks of New York.
The CD continues on this theme with The1Shanti taking you on a journey of metaphors and similes through his rhyme repertoire until "In Here," where he ups the tempo with faster flow, hypnotic flutes and infectious grooves. If you're looking for some cruising music check out "Sholay" and "Love and Longing in Bombay." With dibs on getting the most radio play, both use bollywood breaks with mesmerizing hooks, while "Love and Longing in Bombay" boasts an effectively used sample from the movie Devdas.
The1Shanti continues making way with tracks that tackle issues such as consequences of crime, racism, and being true to your love. Issues of struggle in the music business appear again, which can get repetitious but seems to be the main theme of this album.
"India Bambaataa" shows you the spectrum of The1Shanti's rhyme assault taking you from Brooklyn to Bombay on a lyrical journey of consciousness. This album is a refreshing break from other South Asian MCs who represent the psuedo thugged out ghetto life of suburbia. The1Shanti keeps it real and takes it back to the old school with some nu-school South Asian flare. He shows his growth as a rapper over the 12 tracks on this album, and as a result we need to give respect where respect is due.