For years, i have waited and waited for this video to be posted on youtube. I speak of “Tale of the Dragon” by Captain George. In Bangalore circa the early 90s almost all tv programming came via satelite from Hong Kong. We were lucky enough to be exposed to all the stuff out there thanks to Star TV. There was some good music but nothing ever again on the level of this… “Bruce Lee!! Everyone else is LAME!”
This was my first exposure to asian hip-hop and it was quick on the heels of Vanilla Ice and Hammer. From a gangsta standpoint, I never really doubted that Captain George could beat the crap out of Vanilla and Hammer. Hip-hop sold out quicker than any other genre of music so it’s not a surprise that it was exploited faster than anything else too, even still it is so DAMN FUNNY when my ASIAN brethren spit fire. Arguably the first Asian rap sensation was Apache Indian who burst onto the scene in 1992. One day, a record company sat down in their conference room in London and said “Hey, this rap thing is catching on, let’s pick up that indian guy down the street and turn him into a rapper in India, there’s like a BILLION people there, if 2% of them buy his album, we’ll be rich! We just need him to rap about something indians relate to like y’know…curry? ..snakes?.. temples? …hot weather? ..hmm..oh wait!! Don’t they like all get hitched by their parents down there!? KA-CHING!!” Apache Indian came out with his first single “Arranged Marriage” four days later. It took the entire Indian sub-continent by storm.
Sadly, with every success, there is the inevitable backlash. Soon after, critics attacked Apache for his stage name. They said not only was he not an apache indian, he was not even an indian. He was another Brit trying to exploit India. He was the East India Company of the rap game. The gauntlet was thrown down! We needed an Indian rapper to come along and restore the faith in our nation. We needed rap for us, by us. We needed…Style Bhai.
“You say YO, I say NAMASTE!! You say WASSUP, I say KYA KARTE!!” With this line, we felt pride again in ourselves, in our mother India. Obviously, there were many people who contibuted to Asian Rap who never got their due. For every Apache Indian, there are six million other Indian rappers who didn’t make it. Still, there were many who made a difference and never got the credit they deserved. Did you know India had it’s own Vanilla Ice? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FwhLonMupc Baba Sehgal! This virtuoso simply translated “ice ice baby” to “thanda thanda pani” meaning “cold cold water” and he took over the rap game!! Then, just like the American rap scene, Indian rap started to spread and soon there was a new style, that South Indian Hip-Hop Flava was taking the country by storm and this was the immortal track that laid it down for all of us down south..
Yessir, the Dirty South had spoken! India would never be the same again. Asia would never back down from a battle rap again. Today, it’s easy to forget that all those years ago these brave few risked humilation and embarassment to entertain us and show us what this rap thing was all about. Props need to be given because these guys brought India to rap. And vice-versa. If you don’t believe me, check out the Fresh Prince in Bombay.
When worlds collide…that’s the best.