Punjabi RAPPER CROONS
THE UNCONVENTIONAL PUNJABI RAPPER SPEAKS TO SIMPLY PUNJABI ABOUT HIS CANDID AFFAIR WITH FAME AND HOWHE MADE IT BIG
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.