In a era when the word MC has become a swear word in Bhangra, is also the same period when a number of MC’s have begun to embark on their own solo ‘careers’. The past six months has seen GI JATT, Dark MC & MC Special all release their own respective solo albums, with the quality of each album varying. The forays into solo ‘production’ by Dark MC and MC Special proved fairly successful with both delivering dancefloor bangers with the massive Dushmani (Dark MC) & Nachna Aundha Ni (MC Special); both being sung by the man with the most commonly mis-spelt name in Bhangra; Kaka Bhainivaala. And GI Jatt? Well..not much.
More interestingly the FAUJ collective which he has built up features himself (producer) and three canadian vocalists; Tej Gill of Terie Mere fame, Sukhdev Darapuria & Jas Sangha. What no Kaka?! Its good to see producers have discovered Bhangra outside the usual suspects. The album proudly states it as an ‘E=MC Production’; is it going to place E=MC back on the map?
Track 1 – Intro…just in case you forget what you’re listening to.
A fuzzled intro brings in ‘Je Tut Gayi Sadi Yaari’ sung by the quite brilliant Sukhdev Darapuria. Basic chords provide the backdrop for Sukhdev Darapuria to flex his vocal ability. Production by E=MC is spot on and you can instantly hear the difference in quality from his last album. Its sharper, and has a lot more depth and cohesion. The tempo of this tune means by no means is it destined for the dancefloor; but rather one you just have to appreciate for what it is. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much but this is a very very impressive start. The vocals of Sukhdev Darapuria steal the show, vastly underrated and outside Canada I don’t think this guy has had much exposure to the wider Bhangra audience. For those who have not heard of him, remember the name! A very good start to the album.
From the good of Yaari comes the complete opposite with ‘Kade Aaake Mil Baliyee’ which has been sung by Tej Gill. Touted as a Tere Mere part 2, it’s a bassline heavy track which carries on from Tere mere. It’s a horrible typeof song, not really having any sort of impact, just a lot of noise. Production by E=MC is a little too stop start and vocals of Tej Gill sound as if they have been altered a little too much. For the life of me I can’t understand why this was given a video! (click here for the video)
The third track and the third vocalist with Jaswant Sangha. ‘Launi Ashaqi’ goes a long way in making up for the failures of the previous effort with a somewhat generic Punjabi track; having a drink, getting drunk and having a good time. E=MC introduces some good additions to his production repertoire with Launi Ashaqi. Two years prior he may have been forced to add a MC to fill a gap in production, this time he has added a extra layer of music which makes for a much better song. Good song.
Sukhdev Darapuria returns for ‘Maar Sohniya Gera’ which I can safely say is the best song on this album and one of my favourite songs of the year. A thumping dhol, a hypnotic sarangi and the raw folk vocals of Sukhdev Darapuria means that there isn’t a reason for anyone NOT to like this song. Production by E=MC is spot on, I just have horrible thoughts that there are still ‘producers’ out there who would think of chucking a MC on this track had they produced it, WHY!! Gera is a phenomenal track.
Tej Gill returns on ‘Sajana Ve Aja’ which is a much slower number and is the first semi-ballad on the album. Instantly you can tell the difference in the quality of vocals compared to his effort on Baliyee. Its ok song, nothing more. Feels a little empty but then slow songs have to be exceptional to make any sort of impact.
‘Apna Punjab Vasda’ follows the trend of the whole album being very desi and very folk orientated. Sung by the talented Jaswant Sangha it’s another solid number up there with Launi Ashaqui. Production by E=MC is once again to a pretty good level, but theres always a scope for improvement,
My cd inlay states this song has been sung by Sukhdev Darapuria, although I’m pretty certain ‘Jogi Hojao Naare’ has been vocalled by Tej Gill. One thing I’ve always found funny is when a woman introduces a song, it’s in a very very poor level of punjabi. However I’m pleased to announce that this time around the intro conducted by said random Punjabi woman has been done effectively, however I doubt anyone has a clue what a rambling on about. Naare is a slow mellow track giving the impression of a lazy Sunday were you just put your feet up lay back. A pretty decent effort, the production seems a little empty and lacking, although being fairly well supplemented by a catchy flute.
Sukhdev Darapuria this time does return for the final song of the album titled ‘Aven Nahi Mildi Azaadi’. I told a massive lie earlier, I stated Gera was the best track of the album, well I lied. Azaadi is. Sometimes there’s a songs that you just couldn’t imagine another vocalist singing, add this to the list. Azaadi meaning Freedom is tackling a controversial topic. That’s right, a Bhangra song that is actually tackling a meaningful issue. The sacrifices made by Punjabis to the independence struggle for India pre 1947 has often been overlooked, however as Azaadi addresses this, the people of Punjab were on the front line many a time, sacrificing themselves for the struggle. For those who do not understand the lyrics to this song, go ask an elder to explain it word by word. Incidentally the video for this is the best I’ve seen for a long time, well done to E=MC and the whole FAUJ collective, a very apt way to end an album. It’s often said music should not be mixed with politics, however some topics should never be forgotten. (click here for the video)
So has E=MC improved? YES!. But then in all honesty it would not be too hard to improve from ‘And What!!’ But E=MC has shown what can be achieved by a little hard work and dedication to LEARNING music before bringing out an album. This album is based upon the foundations of brilliant vocalists. The trio of Jas Sangha, Tej Gill and Sukhdev Darapuria have all done good jobs on their respective songs.
By no means is this album a musical masterpiece, but it shows a massive level of progression in the production ability of E=MC and leaves for a lot of potential for the young producer.
More importantly FAUJ is putting Canadian Bhangra on the map. Canada has a wealth of talent within its large Punjabi communities stretching from Surrey to Brampton, but we rarely get to see Canadian Bhangra making much of an impact!
If you like your Bhangra, raw, folk , desi & mc-free then give FAUJ a listen, I’m sure you won’t find yourself disappointed.
E=MC has made a substantial improvement and from here the possibilities are endless, lets hope for an equally large improvement on the next album.
FAUJ gets a well deserved 7/10