Fusion Music: Sikhman/Rastaman and Hindi Reggaeton

Two interesting kinds of music fusion for you today.

1. Transglobal Underground, "The Sikhman & the Rasta," from Impossible Broadcasting. Transglobal Underground are a globalized dub/electronica outfit based in the UK. They've put out quite a number of CDs over more than 15 years, specializing in in experimental, often improbable, kinds of fusion. The results tend to be hit-or-miss. Every CD of their I have has one or two really interesting tracks, but there are also usually several "skips."

The song that caught my ear on the new CD Impossible Broadcasting is the one called "The Sikhman & the Rasta," in which an Afro-Caribbean dancehall MC called Tuup finds a link between Sikhs and Rastas ("The Rasta and the Sikhman dem don't cut hair/ The Rastaman and Sikhman dem have no fear") that is a bit eccentric, though there is something in it -- both Sikhs and Rastafarians have religious stipulations against cutting their hair. And both communities have a distinct and vibrant musical culture that is highly visible in the UK. This song is trying to cross-reference these two unique features.

Even if you don't see the connection, perhaps the song worth tracking down, if the free sample you can listen to at Emusic piques to your curiosity. All I can say is, I'm sure you don't already have anything in your MP3 collection that sounds like this.

2. Desi Reggaeton. Indian remixers in the New York area aggressively sample current hip hop hits on their "promotional" CDs. Most of the time, the remixes don't work very well -- do we realy need a remix of "Chaiya Chaiya" with the beat from "In da club"? Well, maybe you do. And every so often one comes across something that hits just right. Fortunately, the CDs tend to cost around $5, so if a CD is a dud it doesn't hurt too badly.

Some of the same problems are present on Bollywood High Volume 3: Reggaeton Edition, which exploits the current Reggaeton fad. The CD remixes songs from current Hindi films like Kaal, Tango Charlie, Waqt, and Mere Jeevan Saathi, with beats from Daddy Yankee, Tego Calderon, and Nina Sky. It's pretty entertaining to listen to, though as with Reggaeton generally (this fad is slated for extinction, don't you think?), it gets repetitive pretty quickly.

Desiqua. This CD is basically a DJ's fantasy. Unlike Chutney Soca in Trinidad, there isn't that much direct interaction between Indian music and Puerto Rican music going on, either in New York or in Puerto Rico.

However, there is actually a small but vibrant community of Indians living in Puerto Rico (we met a bunch of them the last time we were there). They and their New York expatriates call themselves "Desiquas" (Boriqua + Desi).