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The Bhangra Breakdown – June 2014 Edition

SimplyBhangra.com's Jusi Sahota goes over his pick of June 2014's Bhangra releases in his Bhangra Breakdown!

Bhangra fans were able to witness a hugely successful month in June, with two major returns to the bhangra industry, a record-breaking album and many more singles and collaborations that define perfection in time for the forthcoming summer and wedding season. I break-down and review my most favourite bhangra music based on tracks and videos that have released this past month.

7. DJ Vix & Miss Pooja – Gidha Pao

DJ Vix teams up with another huge name in the bhangra industry for his next single, in promotion for his upcoming and long awaited album "Chapter V". This collaboration is in dedication to Mohinder Kaur Bhamra, who sang the original track. DJ Vix has kept the original lyrics and composition pieces and therefore the song itself is an entirely updated version of the original, to give it a more modern feel. DJ Vix has credited the industry's two most talented percussionists, Sunil Kalyan and Juggy Rihal of The Legends Band, for their flawless and incredible recordings with a track which is sure to be a popular song on the dance-floor this forthcoming wedding season.

6. Surj Sahota – Holi Holi / Tu Mil Gayi

Surj Sahota made his long awaited return to the bhangra industry in June by releasing "Holi Holi" and "Tu Mil Gayi" on the same day creating a huge buzz in the bhangra industry regarding his return. Surj Sahota, a valuable member of "The Sahotas" bhangra group, released seven albums with The Sahotas between 1987 and 2001. The group have been notoriously known to be a bhangra band with a very distinctive style that separates them from every other bhangra band within that era and Surj Sahota's return to the bhangra industry carries that style to a new age of bhangra music and fans.

The tracks "Holi Holi" and "Tu Mil Gayi" don't shy away from the signature Sahotas sound that we all once loved. The track "Holi Holi" has very nice mellow, reggae tone; very similar to the hit track "Hass Hogia". It's catchy and very creative; and instantly takes you back into the golden era of bhangra. The next song, "Tu Mil Gayi", has a more traditional bhangra sound and is definitely a more generic Sahotas song. Both songs are equally very good, but lack the "replay factor" for me to instantly play it over and over again. Production wise, both songs are fantastic.

5. Rav-E, Amar Gill & Pappi Gill – Kundian Mucha

This is a track by music producer Rav-E who releases this single from his debut album "Back To Bhangra". For this track, Rav-E collaborates with folk singer Pappi Gill, who is very well known in India for his live performances for bhangra teams and his unique singing voice and tone. Amar Gill is a dhol player who is located in the US and is a student of Ustaad Lal Singh Bhatti Ji, a musician who has been playing dhol and other instruments for around forty three years. Notable students of Ustaad Lal Singh Bhatti Ji include Sukhshinder Shinda and Aman Hayer, two of the most well known musicians and producers that bhangra has to offer.

The song "Kundian Mucha" is structured to be a folk, bhangra style song to fit the tone and style of singer Pappi Gill. Pappi Gill effortlessly powers through the song, supported by the phenomenal Amar Gill on dhol. The song has a hint of the western sound, with supporting strings, bass and drums. The song itself is entirely different to anything we've heard lately and so it's warming to hear a more original bhangra song on the bhangra market this month. A great song, but again lacks the replay factor, although I see this track being very popular on the bhangra circuit.

4. Epic Bhangra & Late. Kaka Bhaniawala – Mukhada

North American bhangra producer Epic Bhangra releases his next single "Mukhada" featuring the powerhouse vocals of the legend Lt. Kaka Bhaniawala. Epic Bhangra is one of North America's rising bhangra stars. A diverse producer, Epic Bhangra has shown us his skills by creating many tracks based on a natural, desi-bhangra vibe as well as a house oriented, head banger. Epic Bhangra started his career by releasing songs on Soundcloud for free. After gaining more followers on social media, Epic Bhangra has the opportunity to collaborate with Dhol Beat International on VIP Records and release a track on the world renowned Speed Records with Kay V Singh and Mickey Singh. He has also collaborated with Yugraj and Amar Sandhu on several individual projects.
For those who have been following Epic Bhangra closely, this is one of two sample acapellas of Kaka Bhaniawala that Epic Bhangra acquires and has released onto Soundcloud featuring his production.

The sample for "Mukhada" was released in August 2012 and Epic Bhangra's soundcloud followers have pleaded for a full version. Nearly two years later, Epic Bhangra has fulfilled that wish. The song itself is fantastic and Epic Bhangra has gone for a traditional desi route. One thing that is outstanding in Epic Bhangra's production style is his fantastic composition pieces, and he doesn't disappoint for this one. The song reminds me of his previous track "Bullet", which is also a very good song, but I hope Epic Bhangra explores more genres of music to attract a more diverse audience to his music.

3. DJ KSR, J-Statik & Late Soni Pabla – Gal Dil Di

DJ KSR and J-Statik collaborate with each other for this song featuring the Lt. Soni Pabla; which was released by Planet Recordz specifically for Soni Pabla's birthday. This is an entirely reproduced version of "Gal Dil Di" by Soni Pabla. This song has had many different produced versions with the last version produced by UK's MoneySpinner on the "Unfinished Project EP" which was released in late 2013. In my opinion, the "Unfinished Project EP", did not do Soni Pabla's vocals any justice and I felt that the production on the EP was very rushed and the music production was very outdated.

Moving onto this new and updated version, this track has a totally new and modern sound to the vocals of Soni Pabla that we haven't witnessed before. The track itself is a house-inspired, dance number with a trap inspired beat for the drop. It includes a catchy guitar riff that samples Swedish House Mafia's "Dont You Worry Child" and the guitar riff perfectly fits into the structure of the song. The song is a fantastic version to one of Soni Pabla's most well known and popular songs and will hopefully be a popular track for the dance-floors this forthcoming wedding season.

2. Diamond Cut & Surjit Khan – Aashiq

Diamond Cut collaborate with Surjit Khan for their new single from the album "Cut Like A Diamond". This video was released in June after they successfully released the full album in October 2013.

The track itself is an EDM inspired dance track that has "anthem" written all over it. It's upbeat, modern and is sure to be one of the most popular songs this summer. EDM is a style that hasn't been quite explored in bhangra music yet, considering the popularity of EDM is slowly rising in the world of music. It is nice to hear a totally new style of music brought to the world of bhangra, considering the traditional desi vibe is certainly a style that every UK bhangra producer would like to release in time for the wedding season.

1. B21 – 12B

This bhangra group needs no introduction. This month, bhangra music and its fans were able to witness history in the making with the return of Bhota and Bally Jagpal, formally known as B21, who made their return to the music scene with a huge bang. And with this huge bang, they broke a huge record by reaching number 12 on the mainstream album charts - placing above the likes of Beyonce and One Direction; which is a HUGE first for bhangra music.

The album featured twelve tracks, an album in which we have waited twelve years for. Singers featured on the album are: Bhota Jagpal, Bally Jagpal, Shazia Manzoor, Miss Pooja, Ustaad Kuldeep Manak, newcomer Gurmeet Singh and Baljinder Bilga. Vocals on the album are good, but not great. Reading feedback on social media, bhangra fans would comment to say that B21 are missing the vocal talents of former lead singer Jassi Sidhu. I for one can agree to some extent, like I could say that Jassi Sidhu has missed B21's music production for the past twelve years that emulated B21 to above and beyond. Production wise, the album is superb. It is a breath of fresh air for the bhangra industry and goes to show that legends in the industry cannot be replaced, especially Bhota and Bally Jagpal that took their name and bhangra music to new levels that we haven't seen any other bhangra artist achieve.

The album received mostly good reviews; however it is sad to see people unappreciative of the hard work gone into this album.
To me, B21 was the "Tru Skool" of this generation and that's what I was afraid of when B21 released this album. Would this album be popular with bhangra fans considering the expectations they have? The album charts and huge amounts of support for 12B answer my question.

In conclusion, overall the album is fantastic and B21 have carefully crafted their trademark B21 sound with a updated bhangra sound for us to all enjoy. We can only hope that the B21 button hasn't been stopped and we can look forward to more material in the near future.

Article written by Jusi Sahota

Twitter: @JusiSahota / @NMKOnline

Read his private blog here