Transform: Fusing Sounds Together

By Jo Phillips

We now live a world where music is so universally blended, that musicians cross genres all the time to produce unique melodies. The mainstream media have trouble categorising the specific genre, instead they dump the music in the ‘alternative category’ which can reduce the uniqueness of the art. With sounds such as Bhangra and hip hop being brought together as one, the popularity of it has become quite mainstream due to it being welcomed with open arms. Although the cross-genre is a good thing for the music industry, it has overshadowed other genres of fused art that seem to be obscure.

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It is hard to believe that traditional Bhangra Punjabi music has common similarities with Hip Hop Music. Both of the genres originate from completely different parts of the world; surprisingly they have a lot in common. The unlikely fusion first came to prominence in 2003 where the plight of DJ’s and the likes of Craig David were absorbing the upbeat rhythm and bass of Bhangra music, and therefore making it mainstream and fully acceptable to ease out of one’s comfort zone and venture out.

Sharing common textual aspects and similarities with Hip-Hop music, Bhangra music’s lyrics are sometimes based on having the desire to boast bling in the form of jewellery, being wealthy or having fancy clothing, sound familiar right ? This sub-genre of Bhangra is known as ‘Urban Desi’, However this type of westernized Bhangra has actually been criticised by original Bhangra hybrids for not sticking to the rules of the folk rituals. Even though it is sampled by popular international singers, it has been scrutinised in the past for not staying true to its cultural roots, nonetheless the crossing of the traditions has allowed for the genre to become popular.Image 1

Talvin Singh and Nitin Sawney are both known for creating innovative fusions of India with drum and bass, Singh in particular is known for mixing the sub-genre, and his style of music would later be known as Asian Underground. Known as the father of modern Asian electronica music, and notable for re-introducing concepts of Indian classical music to western pop music, Nitin Sawney incorporated multiculturalism, politics and spirituality and he later teamed up with Talvin Singh to form the group Ti Hai Trio.Image 2

DJ Krush – a record producer and DJ known for his atmospheric instrumental production which incorporates sound elements from nature, jazz soul while featuring traditional Japanese instrumentation, more prominently apparent on his notable song ‘Beyond Raging Waves’ from his LP ‘Jaku’ which means quite lonely is considered one of the pioneers of Japanese hip hop. He has established himself as one of the most respected artists and producers in the Hip Hop industry due to his experimental beats and instrumental sounds that changed the face of hip hop, at a time when it was dominated by Americans. When listening to his music that usually doesn’t feature any lyrics, the underlying melodies of traditional tranquil Japanese music compliment the mixture of Soul, drum and bass and techno. It is truly unique.

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It is safe to say that DJ Krush has paved the way for other young Japanese lyricists who are apart of the Japanese underground scene, and embrace their Japanese culture in their songs. ‘Issugi From Monju’ and ‘S.L.A.C.K.’ both are artists who rap over beats mixed with traditional Japanese music and hip hop to create an un-heard of blend with Japanese lyrics.

Hip Hop Music and Folk Music- Politically conscious folksters have been weaving their music with strands of Hip-Hop lately, both genres hard to compare in terms of what they have in common with each other right ? However although, they both emerge out of different lands and era’s, they both have a passion to discuss the issues in their community and express the pleasures and struggles of everyday life.Image 5

Undercover Hippy, apart of the emerging Bristol wave of hip-hop folk are a 5 piece UK based band that bring together keys, drums, bass, congos and backing vocals to create a high energy interactive and entertaining live show. Their music combines acoustic guitar, soulful vocals with lyrical deliveries of a skilled MC. Their latest album, ‘Monkey Suit’ which was in the making for three years, fuses multiple genres, that being reggae, hip-hop, folk but all held together by Billy Rowans signature style of vocal delivery and lyrical content.