Coventry based producer Rajinder Rai aka Panjabi MC, started the decade as a highly respected artist/producer within the Asian music scene (he had given the Asian underground 5 albums in the 90’s, each has defined a new direction for Bhangra, introducing traditional Desi sounds to both Hip-Hop and Garage, ultimately combining the classical elements of India with the street – something no other Asian producer has achieved) but still a virtual unknown outside this sphere.
By the end of January he had been catapulted into the public consciousness, thanks to ‘Mundian To Bach Ke (Beware Of The Boys)’, his breakthrough hit single. The single was a huge success, with its traditional Asian beats, Knightrider sample, and contemporary club beats. Even now, , no club night across the country has been complete without an airing of this massive anthem.
The significance of the success of ‘Mundian To Bach Ke’ is great. It became the first purely Asian vocal led record to make the Radio 1 play-list, debuted at Numbers 5, and 1 in the National and UK Indie singles chart respectively and is by far the biggest record of its genre.
He appeared on Top Of The Pops and spent 4 weeks in the top 20, 7 weeks in the UK top 40. The track was also single of the week in Music Week, Guardian Guide, Independent and Mixmag. The second single taken from the album, ‘Jogi’, has also joined ‘Mundian…’ as a Radio1 play-list record, and went straight in at 25 on the uk singles chart – another huge success for the first Bhangra artist to truly cross-over into the mainstream.
Panjabi MC’s success has paved the way for the recognition and success of other new Asian artists such as Panjabi Hit Squad, Jay Sean, RDB, Metz+Trix and the production work of Rishi Rich. All of these artists enjoy support from the mainstream media.
Aside from the massive success of ‘Mundian To Bach Ke’ in Europe, with over 250,000 copies sold in Germany alone, the influence of Indian music and Panjabi MC on the US hip hop scene has never been more apparent than right now. US Hip-hop superstar Jay-Z personally asked to remix the track, which rode high in the US Billboard Hot 100; another feat which is unprecedented for an Urban UK artist of his ilk.
The Jay-Z remix also gained huge support from UK radio from the likes of Tim Westwood and Pete Tong at Radio 1, The Remix show on XFM and numerous pirate & hip-hop stations nationwide. Hugely influential Ragga artist Beenie Man has since joined the party, adding his vocal skills to a remix of the second single ‘Jogi’, which was thoroughly cained on dancefloors across the country.
‘Panjabi MC The Album’ is a taste of the unique individuality that exists amongst the cities and hamlets of this country, away from the eyes and ears of the UK press and music industry. It also offers up an example of one of Britain’s most underrated producers finally getting a chance to reach an audience deserved of his natural talents. The singles ‘Mundian To Bach Ke’ and ‘Jogi’ as detailed above make an appearance, alongside an array of other tracks (including Jay-Z’s remix of ‘Mundian..’), which showcase both Rai’s diversity as an artist, and the deep-rooted nature of his influences.