Asian Dub Foundation
Asian Dub Foundation
|Asian Dub Foundation|
Asian Dub Foundation are a British electronica band that plays a mix of rapcore, dub, dancehall and ragga, also using rock instruments, acknowledging a punk influence. Their distinctive sound also combines indo-dub basslines, searing sitar-inspired guitars and traditional sounds, shot through with fast-chat conscious lyrics.
Asian Dub Foundation is better described as a group that arose from a community rap organisation. The different forms of music include toasting, dub, funky guitars and many other African instrumentals. One of their most influential tracks is named Strong Culture which gives the listener an idea of the Asian culture. "Their distinctive sound is a combination of hard ragga-jungle rhythms, indo-dub basslines, searing sitar-inspired guitars and 'traditional' sounds gleaned from their parents' record collections, shot through with fast-chat conscious lyrics".
Sanjay Gulabhai Tailor, Aka Sun-J, joined the band as live midi/programmer and DJ soon after. This completed the full live line-up of the band. After earning a reputation as formidable live performers, the band — which now included dancer Bubble-E — won widespread acclaim for the 1995 single "Rebel Warrior". Their second album Rafi's Revenge was nominated for a Mercury Prize combining a unique combination of punk energy with a jungle/reggae core. The single, 'Naxalite' was an ode to the militant Naxalite movement in India. Tours to the United States with the Beastie Boys and Japan followed to wide acclaim. Their following album, Community Music, developed their sound further and received a coveted 10/10 review in NME.
In 2002, Pandit G was awarded the MBE for "services to the music industry" in relation to his work with Community Music. He declined the award, however, stating:
| I personally don't think it's appropriate. I've never supported the honours system. If you want to acknowledge projects like CM, the work that these organisations do, then fund them. There's no point in giving an individual an accolade to bring people into the establishment; [it] won't actually help the organisations!
"If you want to acknowledge the work of these organisations, prioritise funding so they can grow and expand and do the work that they do (in) creating new music, giving people the opportunities to make music, develop new musicians and create pathways where they can go out and establish themselves in the music industry.
The band pursued other avenues performing a live rescore to the film La Haine in 2001, and continued performing it around the world for the next five years. They developed this approach in 2004 with the film The Battle of Algiers, first performing the piece at the Brighton dome on the same day that photographs of torture in Abu Ghraib were released.
In 2003, they released Enemy of the Enemy which became their best-selling album and contained the track "Fortress Europe," a stinging attack on European immigration policy along with "1000 Mirrors" a collaboration with Sinéad O'Connor about a woman serving life for killing an abusive husband. In 2003, they played their biggest gig in front of 100,000 people at Larzac in France at a celebration of José Bové, a radical campaigning farmer. For 2005's Tank, they were joined by On-U Sound collaborator Ghetto Priest on vocals.
In 2005, they won "Best Underground" at the UK Asian Music Awards.
Bassist Dr Das announced his intention to retire in May 2006 to resume teaching and produce his own music. He was replaced by Martin Savale, aka Babu Stormz, who also plays bass with British-Asian electro/grunge/hip-hop band Swami.
In September 2006, the dub/punk opera "Gaddafi: A Living Myth", with music by Asian Dub Foundation, opened at the London Coliseum. In Spring 2007, Asian Dub Foundation announced the release of a best of compilation Timefreeze 1995-2007 which includes a bonus disc of rare remixes and live tracks, featuring Chuck D, the lead rapper of American hip hop group, Public Enemy. The album also features a new track recorded with former vocalist Deeder Zaman. In May 2007 Asian Dub Foundation performed a radio session and interview on the Bobby and Nihal show on BBC Radio 1 where they performed three new tracks: "Climb On", "Superpower" and "S.O.C.A.". In June 2007, they were the only Western act to perform at the Festival of Gnawa music in Essaouira, Morocco playing to a crowd of 60,000 people and collaborating with traditional Gnawa musicians.
Between 2004 and 2007, when Aktarv8r was not a member of the group, he played live on stage with the London band Oojami who perform Middle Eastern belly dance music. On the album "Boom Shinga Ling" released late in 2006, Aktarv8r plays on a couple of songs and is credited on the album under his own name Aktar Ahmed.
In August 2007, Asian Dub Foundation started playing with two new vocalists, Al Rumjen (previously with King Prawn) and Aktarv8r returned after MC Spex was asked to leave the band. In November and December 2007, Asian Dub Foundation recorded a new album, Punkara, with The Go! Team producer, Gareth Parton. It was released in spring 2008 and followed by an extensive tour of Europe and Japan.
In 2009, Asian Dub Foundation contributed to the Indigenous Resistance project after having met up with the Atenco resistance movement in Mexico. Asian Dub Foundation are at present working on their new album provisionally entitled "A New London Eye" which will feature Ministry of Dhol, Nathan "Flutebox" Lee, Chi 2 and Skrein.
The 1995 song, Rebel Warrior, was inspired by the 1920s poem, "Bidrohi" by Bengali poet, Kazi Nazrul Islam, an advocate for Indian independence. The song discusses the racial violence and inequality that the group state still plagues their British communities. Asian Dub Foundation have used their music in conjunction with education and social work for youth in the East End of London, as well as other British anti-racism campaigns.
Like other groups in their genre such as Hustlers HC and Fun-Da-Mental, Asian Dub Foundation fuse South Asian instrumentation and lyrics with the dominantly conceived black music genre of rap. Their music is able to signify a disruption in the racial/ethnic boundaries of hip hop. In their song, "Strong Culture", they assert their authenticity as legitimate Asian hip-hop artists, contrary to other popular claims. The line from the song, "I'm not a Black man / This time it's an Asian." likens back to when Asians were considered "Black" by some in the United Kingdom (UK) and often were part of that musical scene as Asian music had not fully emerged yet. Their lyrics call for radical political harmony and they use their music as an organizing tool for cultural politics, endorsing righteousness, social change, and an end to what they perceive as oppression in the UK. They also pursue the issue of the politicisation of the category "Asian," asserting the legitimacy and authenticity of having an Asian identity in the hip-hop world. They redefine the "Asian" category by reconnecting it with an anti-colonial history, as well a current, existing anti-racist struggle.
They challenge the argument that Asians are passive onlookers in popular culture who are hardly involved in the music industry. Their music functions to bridge the black influence with their own Asian style, using such lyrics as "I grab the mic to commence with the mic check. Supply rhymes, man you never heard yet, you've never thought an Asian could do this." Reckoning a traditional hip-hop MC style with their own Asian influence and simultaneously mixing in various other musical styles, thus disbanding the polarisation of the racial terms and addressing the "ongoing racialised violence and inequality evident in everyday experience in their neighbourhood".
Asian Dub Foundation
- Facts and Fictions (1995)
- R.A.F.I. (1997) (originally only released in France)
- Rafi's Revenge (1998) UK #20
- Conscious Party (1998) (originally only released in France)
- Community Music (2000) UK #20
- Frontline 1993-1997: rarities and remixes (2001)
- Enemy of the Enemy (2003)
- Live: Keep Bangin' on the Walls (2003) live at Ancienne Belgique
- Tank (2005)
- Time Freeze: The Best of Asian Dub Foundation (2007)
- Punkara (2008)
- A History of Now (2011)
- Emergency Basslines (2006)
- Keep the Grime On (2007)
- Minority Large (2008) (only released in Japan)
- Vulture Culture
- Beyond Flesh
- 1997 "Naxalite"
- 1998 "Free Satpal Ram" UK #56
- 1998 "Buzzin'" UK #31
- 1998 "Black White" UK #52
- 2000 "Real Great Britain" UK #41
- 2000 "New Way, New Life" UK #49
- 2003 "Fortress Europe" UK #57
- 2003 "1000 Mirrors" (feat. Sinéad O'Connor)
- 2011 "A History of Now"
- Asian Dub Foundation Live (DVD) (2003)
Asian Dub Foundation's music has been featured in several video game titles; "Flyover" in Burnout Revenge, "Rise To The Challenge" in FIFA Football 2004 and Test Drive Unlimited, "Fortress Europe" in Need for Speed: Underground and "Burning Fence" in Need for Speed: Undercover.
The song "Rebel Warrior" is featured in the film, The Fourth World War. The song plays during a scene about the 1996-1997 general strike in South Korea. They also have a part in the soundtrack for the film Vexille.
- 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Sharma, Samjay; Hutnyk, John; Sharma, Ashwani (1996-11-01). Dis-orienting Rhythms: Politics of the New Asian Dance Music, p. 3257 (Noisy Asians or 'Asian Noise'?), London: Zed Books Ltd.
- Asian Dub Foundation. Asian Dub Foundation. Retrieved on 2008-06-03.
- NME Reviews: Community Music. NME. Retrieved on 2008-06-07.
- NME News: Pandit G Turns Down MBE. NME. Retrieved on 2008-06-07.
- Artists unite to celebrate British Asian Music. Retrieved on 24 August 2010.
- 6.0 6.1 6.2 Hutnyk, John (2000-05-01). "Culture Move: On Asian Dub Foundation". Ghadar 4 (1).
- 7.0 7.1 Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums, 19th, London: Guinness World Records Limited.
- Asian Dub Foundation's official website
- Rebel Uprising official website
- Rock i.D. aka Rocky Singh official website
- Asian Dub Foundation at All Music Guide
- The Guardian, 24 January 2003, Rappers with a cause
- Asian Dub Foundation's discography and news