Pos­si­bly the big­gest thing to ever hit the Pun­jabi mu­sic scene, Yo- Yo Honey Singh who has the na­tion groov­ing to his song An­grezi Beat in the Bol­ly­wood movie, Cock­tail needs no in­tro­duc­tion in Pun­jab. His songs Brown Rang and Dope Shope are a sta­ple on ra­dio chan­nels and even stars such as Ka­reena Kapoor have pro­fessed their ad­mi­ra­tion for him. And if that wasn’t enough, Honey has been win­ning the PTC Pun­jabi Best Mu­sic Di­rec­tor award for four years in a row, and his al­bum In­ter­na­tional Vil­lager has be­come the high­est gross­ing Pun­jabi al­bum of all time. There­fore, jus­ti­fi­ably, Pun­jab is wait­ing with bated breath for Mu­jhe Neat Pila De Sa­jna, Honey’s track in Su­nil Bohra’s up­com­ing gang­ster flick Mas­taan, for which the pop bhangra- rap­per has been paid a whop­ping Rs 70 lakh mak­ing him the most ex­pen­sive singer in Bol­ly­wood his­tory.

The rap­per turned singer, song­writer, pro­ducer and ac­tor is thor­oughly en­joy­ing the chal­lenge of pop­u­lar­is­ing Pun­jabi bhangra rap, a genre known for its edgy, of­ten po­lit­i­cally in­cor­rect lyrics. “I’m hap­pi­est while cre­at­ing some sort of drama with my tracks,” says Singh. “I started my ca­reer as a mu­sic pro­ducer in 2005. In 2006, my sin­gle went to be num­ber one on the BBC world charts. I used to sing in English but switched to rap­ping in Pun­jabi for the au­di­ence,” he ex­plains. Honey was in Bri­tain for nine years be­fore he came back to In­dia to cre­ate mu­sic in Pun­jabi.

The self- con­fessed black sheep of the singing fra­ter­nity, this Pun­jabi pop sen­sa­tion doesn’t give a hoot about be­ing slammed by crit­ics for cuss words in the lyrics of some of his songs. “I’m an en­ter­tainer and will continue to mir­ror so­ci­ety as it is. I sim­ply can’t act or be po­lit­i­cally cor­rect all the time,” he says.

Hail­ing from the an­cient Pun­jabi town of Hoshiarpur in Pun­jab, Honey Singh spent most of his child­hood here. Honey re­veals that many of his songs are born out of a la­tent nos­tal­gia for his child­hood days.

“My son Brown Rang salutes the com­plex­ion of ru­ral Pun­jabi girls. Sim­i­larly, the in­cep­tion of Mafia Mun­deer is in­spired by mun­deer— an ex­pres­sion used in vil­lages to de­scribe a gang of boys who spend the day crack­ing use­less jokes,” he adds.

Ex­plain­ing the ‘ Yo Yo’ pre­fix to his name, the mu­sic grad­u­ate from the Trin­ity School of Mu­sic, Lon­don, says, “Dur­ing my col­lege days in UK, I picked up this slang from my African- Amer­i­can friends. Lit­er­ally, trans­lated, it means aapka apna ( your own). To­day, it has given me a unique iden­tity, mak­ing me ‘ aapka apna Honey,” he says with a smile.

The young mu­sic di­rec­tor who shot to fame af­ter the re­lease of his al­bum, Peshi in 2006 is also a fit­ness freak who can’t do with­out his two hour work­out ev­ery­day. “I fol­lowed a strict diet and cut down on my car­bo­hy­drate in­take to achieve a six pack for Brown Rang’s video. I be­lieve that a singer’s looks are cru­cial to his suc­cess,” says the singer, who made his act­ing de­but with the Pun­jabi flick Mirza— The Un­told Story in April 2012. He is cur­rently film­ing for an­other Pun­jabi film Tu Mera 22 Main Tera 22.

Honey wants to bring back an iden­tity to in­de­pen­dent mu­sic in In­dia, “Let's sing in Ben­gali, Marathi, Pun­jabi, and Bho­jpuri. Do you know an in­ter­na­tional remix of a Bho­jpuri song Loote la is played in clubs all over the world?” he quizzes. He is proud about the tal­ent in the In­dian mu­sic in­dus­try and says, “We should pro­mote our mu­sic in our own lan­guages which will help build an iden­tity for In­dian mu­sic.”

At the same time, how­ever, the fiery rap star wants to match in­ter­na­tional stan­dards by im­prov­ing the pro­duc­tion qual­ity of his videos. “My fans would al­ways com­plain that they loved my mu­sic, but the videos were not good enough. So, for Brown Rang, I shot the video in Dubai and in­vited main­stream hip hop video di­rec­tors from Los Angeles. The song cost me $ 100,000. But I guess it was worth it since it al­ready has four mil­lion view­ings on the in­ter­net,” he muses. The young mu­sic di­rec­tor is cur­rently oc­cu­pied with plenty of as­sign­ments. A col­lab­o­ra­tion with an Amer­i­can pop singer and an­other rap num­ber with fel­low mu­si­cian Pri­tam are yet to come.

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