Punjabi.

“This is an expression of my love for Punjab and the Punjabi language. An out and out salute to my mother tongue, and the tribulations it’s faced throughout its existence… Making this song was a true labor of love” – Jaz Dhami.

Before my non-Indian blog readers decide to pounce on this post, I have to warn you, it’s probably not very applicable to you. You can still try and read it though, I’m sure I’ll make a bit of sense.

As Punjabi artists – specifically those in the UK, and now even in India – keep making music that leaves one’s ears close to bleeding, I’ve been struck by a British born artist, Jaz Dhami, who has blown me away with his new song. A massive emphasis on the fact that this guy is British.

What really, deeply saddens me is the massive downfall of the Punjabi music industry. The songs and albums that are released nowadays are just not good enough, and only remind me that there is nothing striking about Bhangra music anymore. Everything has run its course. It’s the same old lyrics, the same, repetitive kind of tune and an extremely poor attempt at vocals. What you now see in a Bhangra music video, whether the artist is born in British or India, are things that just don’t make sense. Poorly directed videos, featuring really stupid actors making a generic, Indian face and attempting to exemplify what it really feels like to have fun. It is very rarely now that I listen to a song and think “wow, that is actually mind-blowingly good”… and I must put it out there that I’m not stupid when it comes to Punjabi music – I reckon I know my stuff, and I also know that the music we have to dance to at weddings nowadays or watch and listen to on TV is a disgrace.

Yet, Jaz Dhami has brought something new and refreshing. He’s polished up since his last attempts, and in his new track reminds us how important the Punjabi language is, but implicitly, that he has just slaughtered those born and raised in India who fail to connect to their roots, instead opting for a more Westernized approach to their music. For those who do this, you don’t deserve to be called a Punjabi artist, or an artist at all. It angers me beyond measure to listen to “songs” that sound like they were put together in a couple of minutes. There is no emotion, no lyrical depth, no creativity – it is all a massive let-down.

My playlist used to be full of Bhangra music, old and new. Now, it all dates back to the 80s and 90s, with the odd song from the 70s. Bhangra music means a lot to me, I’ve been surrounded by it ever since I can remember. I listened to it before I listened to British music, and have fond memories of waiting for my favourite uncle to post us cassette tapes with the best Bhangra music around on them, especially for us to listen to and feel at home in. The wait used to be agonizing, but when the tapes were delivered and fell through my letter-box, I could never contain my excitement. This may sound bizarre to others, but this was what I thrived on: Punjabi music. Back in those days, there weren’t many platforms for Punjabi music to be aired, so it used to be pretty difficult to listen to what was out there, and living in England was tough for a Punjabi-music starved girl like me. Boo.

I seem to have digressed. The song above is a miracle. It makes me beyond happy that someone from the UK has surpassed those born in India and produced a song that is more than in touch with its roots. You can hear sheer Punjabi soul in it, and in this day and age, where people are forgetting all about that, I think it deserves commendation. This is a real artist with a real love for the music and his culture. I recommend any Punjabi music lover to listen to it and compare it to the absolute rubbish that is churned out by the industry nowadays.

Jaz Dhami sings about preserving the Punjabi language, reminding people that it’s still around, and demands attention. Don’t forget it, it’s a part of you. I think more songs like this need to emerge from the industry. We don’t want to know about what girl a man picked up in a bar, or a field, or how attractive a girl is because she twirls around in a seductive manner. Leave it out. Move on. That’s all been done before. We want something raw and soulful, something filled with intensity that resonates what it means to write, sing and produce Punjabi music. Jaz Dhami covers it with his new song.

The song got me thinking about my own connection to the Punjabi language and how I will try to preserve it. As the generations of my future family progress, I have my doubts about whether my children or grandchildren, or great-grandchildren will speak Punjabi. Being born in England will have its effects on them, but it’s a scary thought for someone like to me think that those with my blood running through their veins might be culturally-disengaged from their Punjabi roots. It’s a depressing thought that in hundreds and even thousands of years or, the existence of the language – especially in the UK – might dissipate, remaining just a memory or something people read about in textbooks. This could easily happen if the language is not preserved.

I already knew I was going to do this, but I now know more than ever that I will ensure my children and grand-children speak Punjabi just as fluently as I do. I think that everyone should speak and preserve their mother tongue; it’s a beautiful thing to be gifted with.

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