Hindi hip hop comes of age...
Louis Pattison 2007
This album is a featured release on BBC's Asian Network
Desi music, like Asian culture in a broader sense, is ripe for fusion, eager to assimilate and crossbreed with other global musical forms. How else can you explain the mish-mash of sounds and styles on Sona Family’s debut album, Make Some Noise?
Four British Asians, Sona – it means 'Gold' in Hindi – are steeped heavily in the style and attitude of US hip-hop/R&B music, but deliver their productions with a distinctly British attitude and the occasional nod to their Asian roots. The party-starting opener "'Chak De", featuring guest New Yorker DJ Sharad, takes its cues from the crunk hip-hop sound popularised in the clubs of America’s Dirty South: A blend of buzzing keyboards, booming bass drums and rowdy delivery, although Sona’s shout out to the 'Punjabis', 'Bengalis'and 'Pakistanis' confirms this isn’t just a straight Lil' Jon rip. Elsewhere, too, there are examples of a clubbier, synthetic dancefloor pulse that suggests at least a passing knowledge of San Francisco’s Hyphy scene.
It’s through the vocals and melodies here that the crew’s lineage makes itself known. "Taali" and "Hai Kuthi" mix up English language rapping with Hindi song and chant, while R&B number "Everything" – one of three tracks here to feature guest vocalist Jehaan-Ara - layers sweet, sentimental diva vocals atop digitised Asian melodies. "Secret Rendezvous"is a subtle standout here, a track about a young Asian girl sneaking out under the nose of her conservative, traditional father to meet her lover.
The track here that’s surely set for bigger things, meanwhile, is "More Glassy". A sort of Desi-influenced take on J-Kwon’s Southern hip-hop hit "Tipsy", it’s an irrepressible club number that’ll have clubs draining their bottles just to throw their hands in the air. Altogether now: 'If you’re drunk and getting tipsy/Grab yourself another whisky'.