My Thank you Letter to the Swet Shop Boys for Cashmere

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Heems: “His Family from India but Riz Pakistani, My Family from Pakistan, I’m Hindu Punjabi”

This describes my boys to a tee, from both my side and their Papa’s side. My boys are represented by the Swet Shop boys. This brings me so much joy, my boys are young and don’t know how important it is to have representation yet. They may not understand the importance, but they do understand that they are being represented now on the small and big screens and in Music. Right now their favourite song is Aaja, as it has been on repeat since the album dropped. In fact to be honest, I don’t get the same joy out of other music as I do from the Cashmere album as a whole.

As you may well know I am Woman, Mother, Teacher and Canadian-Indian. For most of my life, I’ve had to find a balance between two cultures. I wanted so badly to do something in the Arts when I was younger, but at every corner I was discouraged by my Mother, and most of my family. I had the talent, I could play Hindi film songs by ear on my clarinet, and damn well too! I even auditioned to Etobicoke School of the Arts waaaay back in the day, by playing “I Will Always Love You” from the bodyguard as a solo piece on the clarinet. I remember that day being ecstatic that I got into the school, excitedly telling my mom who basically told me I couldn’t go to an Arts school, I had to focus on my studies. So my dream was crushed. Since I became a mother I swore whatever field my kids wanted to go into I would support them (minus the illegal stuff).

Since Riz Ahmed has blown up in Hollywood, my heart has been filled with Joy! Pure Joy! I will tell you why, because both of my boys are inclined towards the arts, both are under the age of 7, but I can see it. I see how much they smile and take joy in creating things, and listening to music. Music is my religion. So if I pass any religion down to them I hope that my Love of all Music from Johnny Cash, Queen, Tupac, and Swet Shop boys is passed down to them.

Riz MC and Heems quite literally represent me, they represent my boys, and they are carving a path with a wonderful and meaningful blend of rap and the beautiful sounds, rhythms, bass, ghazals and instruments of my youth, and their youth (since I think we are about the same age). They seem to have brought together their cultures. Something that I’ve been doing for so long, and still struggle to find a balance with. So I appreciate the balance that this album has immensely.

I have to give them so much love for this album, they don’t shy away from any of the touchy subjects. I tell anyone who wants to understand what it is like to live within the balance of two cultures, to listen to this album and take it in. I Love the album for the representation that I have never, in my 30+ years in life being born and raised in Canada have seen. They touch on everything uncomfortable, the TSA, the problems with flying while brown or Muslim. Having to constantly be harassed under the guise of being random in any and all airports or border crossings. When Riz Spits this;

I pray for my nephew, I pray you’re not antagonized by all the hatin in news and the shit they sanitize/Look Zayn Malik’s got more than 80 virgins on him/there’s more than one direction to get to Paradise.

That line, I mean that line speaks volumes. It shows the other side argument to the young men being converted over to those extremists. It shows that there is another path. There is more to life than being a sheep and following blindly. Not only for religious Desi people, even everyday kids growing up in Toronto, they will know that brown guys can do “Big Things” (like Heems says in one line) that are Different from what is expected of them.

“Ya you Rap but you should have been a Surgeon/What you care for, girl we still splurgin'”

Since this album came out, I have literally told EVERY SINGLE student of mine that is Desi to listen to it. I may get in trouble if it comes back to me but I really don’t care. It’s more important to me to spread the message that there are other avenues in life for Brown boys. You don’t have to go be an extremist, you don’t have to do the typical career path of being a doctor, lawyer or engineer. You can follow your creative side and you should, look at this album, this shows that you can do it.

I took in this whole Album and I mean I’ve listened to it non-stop, the whole album feels like a love letter to my youth. Now that my youth is almost gone, I feel like this will be one of those albums that brown kids in Canada, the US or England can see themselves in, and will easily become a classic for rap lovers like me.

“My only heroes were Black Rappers, so to me Tupac was a True Paki”

I feel like I have to add a Brrrup, Brrrup there with a two finger up in the air salute!

To conclude my Love letter, all I can say is thank you for doing big things, Riz, Heems, and Redinho. You are doing it for our gen and the next, because I’m raising my boys with this music, your music, so keep dropping Big, Big things!

Also I don’t know why, but Aaja, is just pure fire, the song, the video, Everything about it, magic, it is Perfect, the sorta old school Bollywood feel, it was just so bloody fantastic, magic, pure magic.

I had to share some fan art of someone’s that I loved for Aaja it’s from an artist

@drawing_mari

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