DJ Baba G
Daramsala, India’s Baba G. has become a bit of a hipster musical ambassador in his quest to merge East and West into contemporary dancefloor coolness. As opposed to a lot of the Asian Massive artists like Karsh Kale, who are putting Indian classical into a d&b context, Baba’s a true hip-hop head. The originator of “Goa Trance,” the volatile mixture of turntablism and qawwali, G-man is now exploding with “Sufi Trance” (four parts phat beats, two parts turntablism, and three parts tabla, sitar, and anything else South Asian). Together with Dan The Automator (I guess Bombay the Hard Way gave him a taste he can’t quite give up), DJ Swamp, Damon Elliott, Scott Harding, and Badar Ali khan, Baba has created a hard-edged hip-hop genius stroke.
Admittedly, the Automator, who I thought was God, turns in a bit of a weak performance, though “Ali Mola” is a cute, sing-songy chant with mid-tempo breaks and tabla. Damon Elliott’s two contributions, “Calendar” and “Sun,” are cool-ass surprises with his Bone Thugs ‘N Bhangra take on the music. The genius of Harding’s “Holy Prophet — What Are You?” simply leaves me prostrate in awe. And, while Baba’s own “Mola” sounds a little dated, Badar Ali Khan closes the disc with a flourish with “Tabla Rasa,” going totally old school on our asses.
With the West’s sudden re-romance with South Asian sounds, which can be heard everywhere from lounge to (surprisingly) R&B to (mind-bogglingly) soap operas, a battle will soon be brewing between Asian artists trying to define their cultures and traditions and their place in today’s music scene and the corporate pop culture machine (remember swing, anybody?). Though it may be a losing battle, Electric Lotus is an opening salvo that should make people take notice.
Milan Records: http://www.milanrecords.com