Bhangra is a product of Britain’s growing Asian community, a mixture of Punjabi folk music and techno, jungle, house, rock and dancehall reggae. Traditionally, bhangra was played at harvest festivals where one of the chief products was hemp (bhang), which helps explain the trance-inducing beat. Although considered too Western by Indian parents fearful of assimilation, the music currently rules Britain’s Asian music charts.
Apache Indian, who hails from Hansworth (home of Steel Pulse and UB40), is primarily a ragamuffin DJ, although many of his tunes have elements of the bhangra beat. No Reservations as recorded in Jamaica; along with “Feel It Fe Real,” a duet with reggae crooner Maxi Priest, it features three UK hits: “Chok There,” chanted in Jamaican/English patois and riding a bubbly dhol (double-headed drum) riddim, and the typical dancehall boasts of “Don Raja” and “Move Over India.” The most Indian track on the disc is “Arranged Marriage,” which samples bits of Indian filmi music, uses tabla and expounds culturally conscious lyrics that deal with one of the traditions that cause tribulation for more assimilated Asian youth in the UK.
On Make Way, Apache uses a more folkloric bhangra sound with his dancehall and adds elements of roots reggae, jungle, hip-hop, R&B, rock steady and rock. “Boomshackalak,” Apache’s first UK pop crossover hit, is a mélange of various Motown samples married to a chunky reggae guitar, “Armagideon Time” (an oldie popularly covered by the Clash) has a biblical roots reggae tone and a catchy chorus, “Born for a Purpose” is a traditional R&B/reggae ballad, “Boba” mixes acoustic bhangra with a modified funk beat to poke fun at assimilated Indians in Hindi/patois and “Who Say?” would be at home at any rave with its heavy, techno jungle feel. Tim Dog, Yami Bolo and Frankie Paul all have featured vocal spots.