It's not like Vancouver's Jhalaak is the first act ever to bridge the worlds of Indian world music and hip-hop.
You've missed out on something exotic, adventurous, and completely mind-blowing If you've never heard Bombay the Hard Way: Guns, Cars and Sitars—Dan the Automator's late-'90s Bollywood-funk project with the legendary duo of Kalyanji-Anandji. The same goes for the producer's 2001 followup Bombay 2: Electric Vindaloo, which is worth running to your local record store for right now for no other reason than the Kid Koala/Dynomite D collabo "Third World Lover".
Exotic, adventurous and mind-blowing are all pretty good starting points for "Main Naraye Mastana" and its accompanying video.
Both are from the mind of Ruby Singh, the man behind Jhalaak, which he describes as a "pan-cultural Sufi Hip-Hop project". You'll indeed hear the influence of giants like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan on the track, as well as traces of early Brooklyn hip-hop annd Ninja Tune-brand EDM.
The roots of Jhalaak can be traced back to the 2014 edition of the Lower Mainland's Indian Summer Fest. That's where Singh—a multi-instrumentalist and composer—met his collaborators in the project.
According to the Jhalaak website, things came together as follows:
Under the constellations of the 2014 summer sky, they found a kindred spirit in Canadian born Desi Hip Hop artist, multi-instrumentalist, and composer Ruby Singh. To expand the spectrum of Jhalaak, Juno and Emmy nominated producer and DJ Adham Shaikh, contributes to their hypnotic and explosive chemistry.
Made up of an ensemble of artists who have toured the world over, Jhalaak is a potent combination of musicians sparking dance floors worldwide. Chugge Khan with recent project Junun toured extensively with Radiohead, and was mentored as a young vocalist by the inimitable Ustaad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Ruby Singh’s spoken word, rap and beat boxing have taken him across the globe throughout North America, Europe, and the South Asian continent, which prepared him for creating rap interpretations of these Qawwali songs that date back as far as 700 years. Six years ago they collided in Vancouver through the Indian Summer Festival and have been jumping back and forth between India and Canada ever since. Recently they have learned, through a long twist of fate, Singh’s ancestors migrated 300 years ago from the same city in Rajasthan that the Khan brothers have been living for generations. Destiny seems to have a hand in weaving this band together.
Giving you one more reason to be in awe of what he's created with Jhalaak, Singh also directed the visually stunning video for "Main Naraye Mastana". The filming took place in Rajasthan, India—the ancestral home of members of Jhalaak, with a starring role played by Kalbelia folk dance superstar Raki Khalbelia.
Sit back and enjoy. And then, after you've tracked down Bombay the Hard Way: Guns, Cars and Sitars and Bombay 2: Electric Vindaloo on 120-gram vinyl, watch for Jhalaak's debut release Ruby Singh presents Jhalaak this May.