Swami :: DesiRock
When TJ Rehmi released the track "Who Killed Bhangra" in 1998 I never thought the title would ever be true to form. Of course Bhangra has not died and no one in particular has killed it, but the quality of many recent releases has undoubtedly declined. In the past year, it appears that Bhangra producers are plagued with DJ block, creating repetitive, over sampled, and seemingly uninspired music. At the same time, there are always exceptions to the rule, and one case in particular is found in DJ Swami's most recent original release DesiRock.
Swami's 10 track DesiRock opens up extremely promising with the break meets Bhangra title track of the same name. Featuring MC Sarpanch on the hip-hop/garage MC tip, the masterful vocals of Lambher Hussainpuri and Taz from Stereo Nation, and the production that Swami is known for, it becomes apparently clear why Bobby Friction and Nihal have labeled this track as one "one of the best tunes of the year."
DesiRock leads brilliantly into the second track, and one of my favorites, "Move," where Swami adds a Latin element to his trademark dhol 'n' bass/Bhangra meets breaks sound. Again Swami's skills as a producer are highlighted and he does a brilliant job at placing Master Rakesh and Errol Reid's vocals alongside his beats.
As the album progresses, Swami's production and beat/music selection remains stellar, but the MC'ing declines. On the next few tracks, "Challa II," "Don't Hold Back," "Hooked and Addicted," the clean Punjabi vocals are drowned out by relevant, but poorly delivered lyrics. This trend continues for much of the album; great production, nicely delivered and placed Punjabi vocals, but MC'ing that at times conveys simply as shouting that rhymes.
DesiRock, despite the less-than-great Mc'ing, is an innovative album, with good production. Swami's Bhangra meets Asian Undeground production style is exciting and, for the most part, pleasant to the ears. Is Dhol "n" Bass Swami-style the new sound of the Asian Underground? I cannot really say, but it definitely is a new and needed twist on two genres that need a nice kick in the pants.