Bombay Rockers Navtej and Thomas tell DEBAYAN DEB they are returning a favour to the hip hop band Overseas with the track Aja Nachle
Navtej Singh Rehal and Thomas Sardorf, two of the unlikeliest names to be used in the same sentence, met through mutual friend and Scandinavian music producer Janus Barnewitz.The result was the formation of the Indo-Danish hip-hop duo Bombay Rockers who stormed the charts in late 2003 with the peppy and energetic “Ari Ari”. The single featuring Overseas, another hip-hop duo from Denmark with similar origins as Bombay Rockers, received a lot of airplay.
Their unique hip-hop, rap sound with a dash of bhangra made them an instant hit amongst the hip-hop fans all around the world. After the massive success of “Ari Ari”, a studio album was the next step.
“With Introducing we launched a whole new genre of music to the world audience,” says Navtej who is currently in India on a promotional tour for Overseas’ first studio album All or Nothing. Introducing included other popular hits like “Rock tha Party” and “Sexy Mama”, which were off the hook hip-hop tracks.
Whole new genre
“Well, we did what we had to with our first album. That’s how most of the music was made for Introducing. Impulsively. We do it our own way,” says Thomas. “The only thing that our sound enthuses is good vibrations, good times. We make our music to make our listeners happy. No sad stuff for us.”
The huge success of Introducing put Bombay Rockers alongside the international music brigade.
It was no longer making music for themselves; rather it was all about the fans. It was around this time that Navtej and Thomas hit a block.
Penalties of fame
“We couldn’t write a single track for six to seven months. Our brains were clogged. It was like our creative juice ran out and we had reached an abrupt stop,” Navtej recollects. “We felt it was time we stopped experimenting with our music and strictly adhere to what fans want,”Navtej adds.
This led to their second studio album Crash n Burn but before that the duo had to face another hurdle — a fall out with the record label. Despite all the complications Crash n Burn did see the light of day but fans were not very happy with the effort. The album included half-Punjabi and half-English vocals by Navtej and Thomas and the first single was “Khushi”, a typical Bombay Rockers feel-good song. “Out of Control” with Arabic influences, had Navtej lending 70’s style vocals.
Though Crash n Burn did not receive the expected response from the fans both Navtej and Thomas were satisfied with their effort. “It felt as if we have both evolved both musically and lyrically.
The reason behind this was all the travelling we did with Introducing. We got a chance to see more of the world and were exposed to different kinds of music fans, which helped us channel our thoughts. Unlike the first album, Crash n Burn contains songs over which we spent time thinking,” says Navtej.
Inspired by the likes of The Neptunes, Timbaland and Punjabi Mc, Bombay Rockers’ current endeavours have resulted in “Aja Nachle” the first single on the Overseas album All or Nothing, another up-tempo track with an “Ari Ari” vibe. “Well, they did us a favour by featuring in ‘Ari Ari’ and it was time to return the favour,” said Thomas.
Overseas, which consists of Hardeep Singh aka Soulja Brown and Daniel aka Big Dip is looking to make it big with All or Nothing their first record after twelve years of struggle on the streets of Denmark. Lead singer Hardeep describes the album as “A rap album for the desi community.
The album includes rap songs with Hindi hook lines and some songs are Americanised-Desi songs, which fluctuates over different forms of emotions that will make you happy, sad, upset or make you cry,” Hardeep adds.
For a band trying to introduce rap in India at a higher level, Overseas have made the right career move to choose Bombay Rockers as their aides. Not only do Navtej and Thomas know their music, they have a reputation of opening for international pop acts and then getting an encore from the crowd while the international acts just looks on.