The rap duo Swet Shop Boys have come out with a new hit expressing what it’s like to have brown skin, deal with the TSA, and live in the era of Trump.
Riz Ahmed recently opened up about being typecast as a terrorist and dealing with other racist stereotypes. So it’s no surprise his music would also reflect his struggles as a British man of Pakistani origin, as he divides his time between the USA and the UK.
Check out his latest single — “Englistan”
Himanshu Siru — also known as Heems — has always been vocal about what it means to be brown in America.
Together, the duo is a music powerhouse.
Himanshu starts off the song ‘T5’ from their album titled ‘Cashmere’ with, “InshAllah, MashAllah, hopefully, no marshall law” — just that line should resonate with every brown person who has ever been through TSA’s scrutiny. The music video is set in an airport where Riz and Heems are “randomly selected” by TSA.
“Always get a random check when I wear a stubble.”
Not only does the video and song address the racism brown folks face, but it also references refugees fleeing from Turkey and Syria.
“Stopping refugees is silly, blood. Well you know about Aeneas in the Iliad”
Aeneas was a Trojan hero and a refugee who eventually founded the Roman empire.
Watch the music video below and share it with everyone you know. This is straight fire, you have my word.
They’re also touring soon:
7 Nov – San Francisco, CA – The Rickshaw Stop
8 Nov – Los Angeles, CA – Bootleg
14 Nov – Washington, DC – U Street Music Hall
17 Nov – Brooklyn, NY – Rough Trade (Sold Out)
18 Nov – New York, NY – Studio at Webster (All Ages)
21 Nov – London, UK – Birthdays
Support and buy their latest album ‘Cashmere.’ Don’t forget to follow them on Facebook.
Sarah Khan is aspiring to be Sharmila Tagore with the swag of Aaliyah. She is 23-years-old and her mom won’t stop asking her about marriage. Sarah usually ends up telling her mom that she wants to marry an African-American Jew, which causes her mother to promptly throw chappals at her. Sarah wants Drake to know that she’s down and ready whenever he is. Sarah is also 257 Pokemon away from catching them all.
In an age where algorithms dictate viewership, Nancy Jay uses her love of dance to propel herself onto TikTok’s “for you” pages. Jay is an Indo Guyanese, Bronx native who began dancing at the age of three. As an influencer and content creator, she amassed a social media following of more than 500,000. Versed in many styles of dancing including Caribbean, Bollywood, urban and Latin, Jay can be spotted in soca music videos such as Linky First’s “Rock and Come in” and “Jeune Femme,” Adrian Dutchin’s “Roll” and by soca king Machel Montano’s “Mami Lo Tiene.”
Many content creators are typecast into the niche but Jay has defied this norm and proclaims she is more than just a dancer.
“I dance, travel, post lifestyle and beauty content. I’m an Indo Caribbean woman who enjoys being myself and promoting my culture. I like showing viewers it is okay to be who they are and embrace what they look like, despite what they see on social media. I did not plan on being a TikToker. As I started posting videos, the love and support I received from viewers was amazing. I have never experienced anything like that before on Instagram, where I started my content journey,” Jay said.
In conversation with Jay, the following answers have been condensed for concision and clarity.
Why is it important for you to create content related to your Indo Caribbean roots?
Growing up, I never felt represented as an Indo Caribbean on television, in movies, social media or anywhere else. My goal as a content creator is to promote the Indo Caribbean culture through my content and be the representation the Indo Caribbean community needs.
Are there unspoken rules about being a content creator or an Indo Caribbean woman on the platform?
Being an Indo Caribbean woman on TikTok can be challenging when you are trying to find your identity and do not feel represented.
Jay explains her frustration with the lack of Caribbean representation and acknowledgment from platforms, as well as her goals as a content creator in this video.
Do you ever experience a block, similar to writer’s block, when it comes to creating content? How do you overcome that?
I have yet to experience a block. However, I do have days where I want to take a break and just relax instead of filming. As a content creator, it is important to take breaks and schedule days to just relax because being a full-time content creator is a 24/7 business. It can be draining and you may lose your sense of reality when you have the mindset that everything is content. I enjoy taking a day or half a day to cook, watch TV or go shopping with my partner without the worry of filming any of it.
How has your social media presence changed your daily life?
When I am in public, supporters approach me to express their love for my content and sometimes ask for a selfie. When I find people staring at me in public now, it’s most likely because they recognize me from social media and not because I look funny.
In May of 2021, I used my platform to reach out to brands and ask for their support in a project I named ‘Nancy Jay Gives Back.’ I put together care packages, using products donated by brands, and drove around the Bronx sharing them with people experiencing homelessness or those in need. Seeing the happiness on their faces upon receiving these bags was priceless. Additionally, I spread some extra joy through dance. I remember one lady telling me she’d never been to a club or party so I told her I’ve brought the party to her and we danced to her favorite genre of music right there on the street.
Jay plans on continuing this project as her social media presence has grown.
How has your family reacted to your social presence?
My family has always been supportive of my talents and the path I have chosen. My first public dance performance was at the age of 12. I performed a fusion of Bollywood and chutney music at middle school events. When I got to high school, I participated in our talent show to a fusion of Bollywood, chutney, soca and top 40. I won the talent show three or four times. I also performed for fundraisers organized by mandirs in Queens, the Bronx, weddings, sweet sixteens and other social events.
My family always came out to support me. They love seeing my content and always encourage me to film and create. My mom in particular tells everyone about my TikTok videos.
While enrolled at John Jay College, Jay founded the first West Indian student organization called “West Indies Massive.” She captained the dance team, taught dance classes and won the talent show multiple times while pursuing her Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice with a minor in law and police studies.
Any advice for creators who may not have the support of family?
Do not let this discourage you. If content creation is something you truly want to do, stay consistent and eventually your family will support you for doing what you love. Social media is still new to some and the idea of it being someone’s career or business is new as well. I say be patient. Also, talk to them about your social media goals, as perhaps they do not understand the full picture.
What is your dream partnership and why?
My dream partnership would involve acting. I’ve always wanted to be an actress, preferably a Bollywood actress because I know I would kill those dance numbers (haha!). Also, I would love to partner with Sandals Resorts and bring that Caribbean flavor they should be promoting.
Jay has collaborated with major brands like Samsung Mobile, Norwegian Cruise Line, AC Hotels, Disney Music Group, and Dunkin which is paramount for the Indo Caribbean community.
“I am the first Indo Caribbean woman to work with Norwegian Cruise Line as a content creator. Cruise travel is a huge part of my content journey. I love cruising and creating unique experiences and content. While cruising, I connected with the crew while most people typically do not. I treat everyone with respect,” Jay said
“I started a fun series called ‘Cruise Dances with the Crew’ back in August of 2021. There’s a playlist on TikTok with all of the fun dances. Prior to my first video, I had not seen anyone dancing on cruise ships with the crew. I guess you could say I started that trend.”
Nancy intertwined this partnership with her content and further put herself on the map.
Another pivotal partnership for Jay occurred in March 2021 when Dunkin chose her as one of 10 from a nationwide competition to feature her signature drink on the local menu.
How has content creation changed in the past two years?
Within the past two years, my content and style has grown tremendously. My gear list has also grown tremendously. I’ve been a content creator full time for a little over a year now. I have had more time to focus on the presentation and editing of my content.
What else do you want your viewers to not know about you or your work?
I stay true to who I am. Supporters who I’ve met in person can attest that I am the same, in-person and online. I like to keep things relatable, fun and authentic. I am working with a lot of big brands. I try to incorporate dance in all my content to capture my passion, diversity and culture.
I started teaching Caribbean Dance Fitness classes and private dance lessons officially in 2016. Since Covid, I moved everything online. Not only have I helped many learn how to dance but I have also helped build their confidence through dance and expression.
Lastly, I love traveling and encouraging others to live their best life.
Jay is more than a dancer; she is unapologetically herself. She maximizes opportunities and is building a brand that highlights her Indo Caribbean roots – a culture often not highlighted in mainstream media.
January 18, 2023January 18, 2023 5min readBy Arun S.
From receiving his MBA from Harvard business school to being the CEO of Asia’s largest music festival brand Sunburn, Karan Singh combined his interests to push his passion for music! Singh received his bachelor’s degree in management from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He worked as an investment banker for three years at Ambit Corporate Finance before working at Sunburn which is a part of his family’s business. Sunburn started providing the music festival experience starting in the year 2007. The first festival was in Candolim, Goa. The music festival brand has put on over 5,000 events over the past 15 years. In 2022 The Sunburn Festival will be in it’s 16th year. Continue reading to learn more about Karan Singh’s journey with the Sunburn music festival!
What does the Sunburn brand offer and what made you have the festival in Goa as opposed to other parts of India?
We believe that Sunburn offers a really unique experience and is a melting pot of diverse people & cultures from not only across India but around the world. Goa is the ideal setting for this as there is something magical about Goa in the winter-time and truly enables us to tap into that global audience.
Safety at live events has always been a concern among concert goers. Considering recent, events more individuals have asked brands and artists to do more to ensure audience safety. What are you doing to ensure safety for live concerts?
Safety is a huge priority for us. We work with the best-in-class security agencies as well as closely with the police and requisite authorities. For anyone in the crowd a Sunburn safety officer will always be close by and easily visible. We also run an awareness drive on both social media and on ground.
What was the first Sunburn Festival like and what did you learn from this experience?
The first ever Sunburn Festival was in December 2007, and I had actually attended it as a fan, not part of the crew. However, it was absolutely eye-opening as the first proper music festival on Indian shores and opened up our minds to a world of possibilities.
As Sunburn houses so many electronic dance musicians who have been your favorites throughout the years?
It is difficult to pick from the list however the favorites for Sunburn, in no order and because of the amount of love they have shown Indian audiences, are Martin Garrix, DJ Snake, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Hardwell and Armin van Buuren.
Do you plan to expand the festival to add other genres into the mix as well as more activities?
We have already expanded into different formats like Arena, Campus, Club, Reload and things like merchandize & academy. In terms of genres, we have been dabbling with genres like rap, hip-hop and pop, however our focus remains on electronic dance music.
What can someone expect from the festival as first-time goers?
Apart from a state-of-the-art production & line-up, one can expect a special experience, meeting interesting people from all over the world, and embarking on a creative journey of the theme for the year.
How does the festival help local musicians from Goa as well as the surrounding areas in India?
This year we had set up for the first time a special stage and village in the festival only for Goa which gave a platform to local Goan artists. But beyond that a huge focus for us has always been to showcase domestic home-grown talent and indeed 60-70% of the line-up each year is locally sourced.
What was the experience like this year in 2022 and how is it different from previous years?
The biggest difference was that this was the first time the festival was back to its full scale since the pandemic hit after 3 long years. It was a fantastic release for everyone there. Our theme was “the future is now” and this was reflected across the festival experience and particularly in the main stage design – termed “Cyberpunk City” which received rave reviews from all.
What was it like having the legends Black Coffee and Afrojack this year as well as the DJ duo Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike?
Afrojack and DVLM are both Sunburn & India veterans, it was amazing having them back crushing the main stage after very long. Black Coffee for us was something very new and exciting, to have a special artist and a unique sound like that close the main stage on day 2. However it was very well-received and took our experience to the next level.
As you have had the artist Avicii back in December 2011 how do you feel he revolutionized Electronic Dance Music?
Avicii is one of my all-time favorite artists and his show in December 2011 was actually my first one working on Sunburn so will always be extra special. There is no doubt that he revolutionized EDM by taking massive risks and introducing an entirely new sound which a lot of others then followed, but no one as well as he did.
How does it feel to be in charge of one of Asia’s biggest Electronic Dance Music Festivals?
It feels great, we have a very young but ambitious and hard-working team and our primary focus is to continue delivering the best possible experiences for our fans, artists and partners. India is such a vibrant and exciting market that I cannot help but be pumped about what the future holds.
Do you feel Electronic Dance Music is a misunderstood genre?
More so in a country like India possibly yes, where people who are not exposed to these experiences sometimes have preconceived notions about EDM festivals and the like. Oftentimes those people are also in a decision-making capacity and can directly affect the industry. However, things are certainly improving as the industry overall gets bigger and gets more acceptance.
What does music mean to you, Karan Singh?
Music provides a sound-track to life, it is something which is always there!
How do you choose to react when you receive negative comments about the Sunburn Festival?
Well, you have to be able to differentiate between those which are just trolling and those which are constructive or fair criticism. The latter is very important as it helps us to look at ourselves and continually improve, we are still a long way from where we eventually want to be.
Lastly, what do you hope individuals take away from this interview with Brown Girl Magazine?
I hope it allows us at Sunburn to reach a wider audience of the desi community around the world and hopefully get some more people to fly down to Goa for Sunburn Festival 2023 which I can promise you all will be the best one yet!
Dimitri Vegas Like Mike
We have had a long connection with India. The first time we played here was more than a decade ago. Going from clubs to being a regular feature at one of Asia’s biggest electronic music festivals which is now an institution in itself. It’s been an exciting evolution to see how Sunburn has grown over the years. The fans at Sunburn are some of the most insane and every show is a special one. We’ve always had an incredible experience at Sunburn.
Honestly, the energy I feel when I am in India is one of the most amazing things. I would say the culture and energy is what keeps me coming back! India is like a second home to me, just like Sunburn. I feel so comfortable and welcomed here. I’m always excited about coming to India and playing at Sunburn, experiencing new cities, meeting more of the people, hearing more of the music, and seeing more of the country that has influenced me so much.
Sunburn has helped dance music artists world over to tour India and connect with their Indian fans and I’m always excited about performing at the festival.
I’ve a long history with the Sunburn team. They are a great team to work with and they also give the fans amazing experiences. As an artist, I want to be a part of providing fans with lifelong memories and so we all share the same vision.
Sunburn is one of the pioneers of the dance music festival scene in India and has been instrumental in creating a truly world class platform that supports the dance music industry and all of its stakeholders. I’m always excited about touring India with Sunburn.
October 3, 2023October 3, 2023 8min readBy Arun S.
Badshah is undoubtedly one of the most influential figures in the South Asian hip-hop landscape. From farmlands to stardom, Badshah embodies the quintessential tale of humble beginnings and the rise to the top. He is one of the most successful generational artists who’s donned multiple hats, including that of a reality TV judge and has built a culturally rich empire with equity in a diverse set of businesses. Voted as the world’s No. 1 songwriter on YouTube by Blokur and being the first Indian artist to chart on Billboard Global 200, he is among the most bankable names in the Indian music industry; pretty much every label owner and/or film producer turns to him when in need of a guaranteed hit.
I recently got an opportunity to meet Badshah while he was in LA to record an album. Meeting him was surreal; almost like a bucket list moment. As someone whose music is a party starter in itself, it was surprising to learn that Badshah likes to keep to himself. The rapper is no stranger to a frenzy of fans huddling around him with camera phones. The environment was no different on the day we met. Yet he was kind, approachable and generous, smiling genuinely for every click of the camera. We spoke at length about his latest musical outing, his foray into entrepreneurship and South Asian representation at large. Below are the excerpts from our conversation:
We just learnt that you’ve been spending a lot of time here in LA. Are you liking it better in the U.S. than back home in India? What prompted this transition of spending more time overseas given that you are someone who endorses the heartland of India?
India will always be home for me. LA is a more diverse hub where you can just jump into the studio with artists from different ethnicities. And that’s one of the reasons why I’m shuttling between India and LA. The other day, I was strolling down the street and I noticed people jamming to a Bad Bunny song. In my head, I was like this needs to be a Hindi or a Punjabi song. There are multiple ongoing conversations, but everything I’m working towards globally is to represent the culture and normalize Indian-ness at a very grassroots level.
We really enjoyed the album “3 a.m. Sessions.” It showed a different side of your music discography. What was the process of creating this album and what was your intention behind presenting a more personal and intimate album?
I launched it as a random drop for my fans. My label wasn’t too hyped about it so I just went ahead and released it on my channel at 3am and it just exploded! The album was more about songs that I felt good making, it allowed me to dive deep with the storytelling and gave me a premise to be authentically vulnerable.
What can you tell us about your new single “Gone Girl?”
It’s me revisiting my older soundscape and reinstating what my moniker stands for. Badshah is all about blockbusters and bangers. For the longest time, my fans were waiting for me to come up with an anthem and I’m all about keeping my fans happy!
While you have managed to craft a legacy of your own, there is a section of the industry that dismisses your success. Why is that?
It’s human nature to not want to celebrate another’s strength and success and seek pleasure from others misfortunes and weaknesses. Till the time you’re an underdog, everyone wants to support you because it’s relatable and unpredictable. But once you’ve achieved a certain stature, the same people want to invest in someone else because they feel success comes with a sense of entitlement and privilege. It’s a vicious cycle of love and hate. I’m grateful for being overlooked because it reinforced my belief in myself and it pushed me to work harder. You can love me or you can hate me, but I know I’ve earned the respect and that’s the only opinion that matters.
You’re a mentor, entrepreneur as well as a philanthropist — aspects of your personality that most people aren’t privy to. What prompted you to take on such varying roles in life and why do you feel it’s important for artists to extend beyond their art?
My craft would be very self-limiting if I didn’t blend in the element of purpose. Music helps you to build a spiritual conscience and creative appetite that can empower you to go beyond hedonism and create opportunities for community progress.
Did you apprentice with anyone or was it more just self-education when transitioning into this prolific creative businessperson and learning the business side of things?
It was very organic. Maybe it was my love for mathematics that originated into me embracing entrepreneurship. Being invested for the long haul and having sweat equity gives me a sense of responsibility as opposed to engaging in time-bound brand partnerships based on my public stature. I have taken a lot of un-calculated risks, but I enjoy the process of creating an establishment. That business streak has been in me since I was a child. In school, I was selling comic books and in college, I was selling medicine and land. Fashion label, record company, television network, a film production house, nightclub — I’ve tried it all and I am still looking forward to expanding within the beverage and sports industry.
Currently, Reggaetón and K-POP are having huge moments around the world. When do you feel South Asian sounds will reach a mainstream level?
I’m hoping within the next two years. We are at the cusp of a Brown takeover and this was long overdue. In a world where every other culture and community is enjoying its fair share of spotlight, I think it’s about time South Asians are celebrated and are given the due they deserve. South Asians are a hardworking lot and are invested in their craft and the world is just about waking up to how multi-hyphenate we truly are! Diljit paaji at Coachella is a great example of how audiences are investing in not just the music, but the overall cultural experience. AP Dhillon and Karan Ajula are doing great as well. Late Sidhu Moose Wala was a real legacy artist who pushed the boundaries for Indian hip-hop, sitting out of a remote village in India, and encouraged music consumption that directly put a spotlight on staying true to one’s roots. Similarly, I’d like to do the same for Indian hip-hop globally — celebrate the culture, champion other artists, build an indigenous empire and be the voice of a generation without having to conform to any diktat or cater to the need of validating where I come from.
The legacy of a cultural juggernaut. I am working towards building an establishment that extends beyond the mundane materialism and impacts individuals on a more humanitarian level. The success needs to transform into something more meaningful and greater than just million-dollar brand deals, or stadium tours, or record-breaking streaming numbers. I’d like to build towards generational cultural wealth. When people remember me, I want them to smile recalling how they were touched by me in a way that left them with something to cherish. I don’t want to just live inside minds, but also inside the hearts of people.
How do you celebrate your success?
With grace. I don’t believe in hierarchical systems. I don’t consider myself above or below anybody. I’m always sharing my success, and congratulating my peers on their success as well. I’m not the type to take success for granted because I worked hard for it and I’m grateful that God views me as worthy enough.
Tell us about the person behind the moniker.
I’m contrary to what you see in my public profile. I’m a happy social recluse who’d prefer a studio session over a glitzy red carpet. I feel my public persona is an alter ego as I’m quite straightforward and boring in real life. Though one thing that has stayed constant is my love for fashion, jackets, and sneakers, more precisely.
How do you feel about the Asian Underground scene in the U.K. influencing your music and who were some of the artists and tracks that helped pave the way?
In my early teens , I listened to a lot of Panjabi MC, Bally Sagoo, and Rishi Rich. They helped me pursue hip-hop more ardently and gave me a sense of direction in my quest.
As someone who is constantly in the public eye and most susceptible to hate and criticism, how do you motivate yourself on the hardest of days?
Music and family are always therapeutic, but because I’ve seen massive struggle in my heydays, I can come around the hard days far easier now. I’ve realized that the war is against myself and I have to take full responsibility. If I need to learn new things and progress, I need to befriend disapproval, embrace the struggle, and enjoy the discomfort. I’ve always taken the harder route. I’ve lost friends, rewired my brain to think in new ways, foregone old patterns, pulled myself away from anger, but it’s made me feel empowered knowing that the power to change my life lies within me.
In an era where popularity is gauged as per one’s social media following and streaming numbers, how important is the aspect of authenticity and storytelling for you?
Storytelling gives character, whilst authenticity builds reputation. You may forget the face or the name, but you will never forget the story. The human brain is wired to connect through stories and the more organic and real these stories are, the more an artist becomes relevant.
Speaking of numbers, does creativity get affected in the whole number game?
Numbers are a great flex, but it’s in no way a measure of whether a song is a hit or not. Just because a song has ‘X’ number of million views, doesn’t guarantee an artist’s achievement quotient. These are just titles for the hype which can fade if you aren’t consistent creatively. Fans still need to attend your shows and consume your music, more unswervingly.
What more do you want to see from the Indian-Bollywood music industry? What’s lacking and can be done better to transcend borders and industries?
We need to embrace diversity and celebrate not just the major feats, but the small wins too. We don’t need to blend in or do something that’s against the culture as if we have nothing to offer. We need to stand up and own our uniqueness. Indians were born for greatness, it’s our time to shine, respectfully and authentically.
It feels like you almost see it as a mission on some level, outside of just making millions and selling super dope records, to kind of get the Indian culture up. You have extensively spoken about representing the scene more authentically and taking the Indian sound overseas and how you’ve been inspired by the late Sidhu Moosewala’s career trajectory. Why is cultural representation so important for you and what are you envisioning to propagate it?
Culture is what defines identity and representation is what bridges the gap between communities. Together they lay a foundation for anti-racist behavior and beliefs. However, there is still work to be done towards representation where diversity is seen as beautiful and valued. The barrier is tokenism, where artists are included in projects solely for the sake of diversity. We need representation that is diverse and not tokenized.
What do you think your true essence is? What would be true about you no matter how successful you get?
My commitment to the community and the craft. We are born to help people and if my art can uplift someone, I’d consider myself successful.
Who are you inspired by?
I’m motivated by everything that involves hard work because talent alone isn’t enough. I’m inspired by Virat Kohli, Ratan Tata, Drake, Jay-Z, and the list just goes on.
If you could collaborate with anyone who would it be?
I’d love to collaborate with Elon Musk. Maybe I can headline a concert he organizes on Mars one day!
Any particular American hip-hop artists that have inspired you?
I really love J. Cole. He’s amazing! I also love Jay-Z and Kanye West.
We hear there’s new music coming up for you. What can fans expect from you in the coming year?
I have some dope collaborations in the pipeline, and an arena show in London, later this year. I’m also a judge on two reality shows and life is kind!
Face rejections with grace and accept success with humility. The attitude we bring to things changes the course completely. You give away what you want. If you want love, love unconditionally; if you want respect, respect equally. It’s just a mentality thing!