After the massive success of his debut solo album ‘American Jugni’, New York born vocalist Bikram Singh is back his brand new album titled ‘Tip Top’. Let’s be fair whenever someone mentions Bikram Singh to your average Bhangra listener, they will instantly bring up ‘Kawan’, which really catapulted Bikrams career to another level. Yet there is so much more to the catalogue of hits Bikram has assembled over the years, more notably, ‘Sada Dil’, ‘Hauli Hauli’, ‘American Jugni’ and of course ‘Taakre’ & ‘Chaklo Gandasy’.
Behind much if not all of Bikrams success is Tigerstyle, who have given Bikram Singhs vocals an excellent backdrop. The new album features production largely by Tigerstyle, but also features Kam Frantic who produces one track. Collaborating with Bikram Singh is duet partner Gunjan and Canadian pop outfit Josh.
Also big credit to VIP Records for making this album available for digital download on the day of release! All other labels need to follow suit...this is 2008! (Click Here to Digitally Download Their Releases)
“Naagni” kicks things off, with a Bheen (think Snake Charmer) bringing in a typical Tigerstyle dancehall themed track. The flute performed by Gurdeep Singh adds a great edge to the track. However, there’s something about this song that doesn’t really make me want to listen to it again, its an ok song. Just lacks something.
Up next is “Aashiqan De Dil” and thumps off with that ever so present dhol loop that has been used throughout the Bhangra industry; Jaanab, Ah Ni Kuriye etc etc. Taking away the repetitive dhol and similarities to RDBs ‘Sadi Gali’ you’re actually left with a pretty good track. Of course it didn’t help that this song was released as a promo back in June. Catchy but a tad repetitive.
Touted as the follow up to Kawan ‘Ik Vaari Aaja’ once again sees Bikram team up with the fantastic Gunjan. A powerful violin piece starts off proceedings and instantly you feel hooked on the track. Of course it isn’t better than Kawan but that shouldn’t really take away from the song. The only grate I have is how ineffectual Bikram Singh sounds. Back on the American Jugni album his voice sounded raw powerful and with emotion, now it just seems toned down. This song isn’t Bikram Singh featuring Gunjan, more like Gunjan featuring Bikram Singh. Gunjan saves the song. Best track off the album.
Kam Frantic is given production responsibility on “Gidhian Di Rani” its an average track in all honesty and with the amount of music Kam Frantic oversees it’s pretty impossible for him to continuously bring out something innovative. For the man who was supposed to have produced Unda Da Influence and numerous other ‘ghost productions’ (allegedly?) this is another tame effort.
Bikram Singh teams up with Canadian duo Josh on “Akhiyan’ch Tu Vasdi”, the song has been produced by Josh and features Bikram Singh trying his hand on a pop effort, something someone with a softer voice may have been suited to i.e Jassi Sidhu. The words; out of place, do come to mind. I can understand the need to try new things, but it just doesn’t work. Honestly…what were you thinking Bikram?
Now I’m hoping that the title track “Tip Top Put Jatt Da” can inject some life into this album, as up to now it has been rather dull and uninspiring. And well it does go along way in saving this album. Probably my favourite track off the album as it’s exactly what Bikram is suited to most. Catchy lyrics, a catchy beat…BHANGRA! Not stupid collaborations with sub standard pop acts from Canada (Sorry Josh). Although the lyrics are a little lets say unique, it’s a very good track.
If you thought Tip top had some outrageous lyrics, wait till you hear “Telephone”, I’d never thought I’d ever a Punjabi song about getting a girls telephone number and then chatting her up…well after Rambo anything was possible! Tigerstyle on the production have kept it fairly simple and have helped themselves to an old Wu-Tang Clan sample. Is this what you would class ‘clever sampling’? Not too sure myself. Decent track alongside laughable lyrics that were written both by Bikram Singh & Tigerstyle. Once again, what were you thinking?
“Solwa Saal” follows and is a very desi number, something that’s been very limited on this album for one reason or another. Production by Tigerstyle is solid and features good use of instrumentation but the song is actually very dull. Call me controversial, but yes I did call a Tigerstyle produced song ‘dull’. It’s a decent track, but I won’t be listening to it again any time soon.
An amazing flute intro brings in “Mein Boli Punjabi” which is a powerful slow track, something that Bikram seems much more comfortable on. It’s one of those thought provoking tracks that you really have to appreciate. Once again the flute throughout the song played by Gurdeep Singh is immense! Great song.
“Dil De Sanu Mutiyare” is song number 10 and is in on an desi tip. It’s a decent song but lacks anything to really grab me. Boring lyrics equally uninspiring production, incidentally it has been produced by ‘Sunil Sehgal’…maybe he will be bringing out an album on VIP records that’s been ‘mixed and mastered’ by Tigerstyle too! Sounds like a straight forward Tigerstyle production.
The final track is “Pehle Tor Di Sharaab (desi edit)”, when you see those words it usually either means a remix or a pre-remix or just a stripped down version of a song you have previously heard. This is essentially the same song that was released on the Blitzkrieg album last year without of course the appearance of Blitzkrieg. For what it’s worth it’s an alrite song; the ‘Bottlan Di Sharab Diyan’ rip off mid way makes me want to cringe though.
We’re treated to a bonus mix by the Bandish Projekt with “Ik Waari Aaja (Come Back)”, it’s definitely something different to your norm. The intro to the song is up to 2minutes long without getting into any vocals…if you manage to keep up for the whole 8minutes than this song will offer you something to vibe to. Drum and Bass Bhangra is criminally underrated.
This album is a must buy...if you’re suffering from insomnia. In all seriousness, this album is a very blasé effort from both Tigerstyle and Bikram Singh. It in a way lacks anything to really make you want to listen. The whole idea of an collaboration between Bikram and Gunjan after Kawan goes a long way in selling this albu but the album fails to deliver another potential ‘anthem’ or anything notable worthy of another listen. Although Tip Top goes a long way in making up for the lack life in this album, it still follows the same production formula that was heard on VIP Records albums two years ago when the likes of Ryan Singh, Saq were bringing out their respective releases (engineered by Tigerstyle)
My advice would be to get yourself on viprecords.co.uk and digitally download (Click here) the very few tracks that a worthwhile. I’m going to stick my neck out here and say something that will be probably considered Bhangra blasphemy; Production by Tigerstyle on this album is bloody boring! There I’ve said it…. Lets hope all their effort went into their own long awaited album when producing on this album. Bikram Singh also sounds toned down on this album compared to American Jugni, which makes songs such as Ik Vaari Aaja a big disappointment..
Album summed up in three words: Boring, Tedious, Gunjan.
Bikram Singh – Tip Top gets 5.5/10