Spicy Bhangra

DJ Rekha

Basement Bhangra (Koch Records, 2007)

For Bhangra fans unable to attend New York’s monthly Basement Bhangra party at S.O.B.’s, DJ Rekha Presents Basement Bhangra just might be the ticket to heat up their humdrum lives. DJ artist Rekha Malhotra has played host to the first Thursday of the month Bhangra fest for the past ten years at S.O.B.’s, in addition to her long-standing commitment to community activism and mission of expanding the audience for South Asian Music. Named as one of "the most influential South Asians in the U.S." by Newsweek, Rekha has gained fans by supporting and playing at P.S. 1’s Warm Up Series and Central Park’s Summerstage.  

Fusing Punjabi folk, Hip Hop beats and dancehall beats from the Jamaican streets, Rekha ignites the spicy blend with her brand of DJ techniques. Centering compositions around the Punjabi vocals and tangy Indian percussion, there’s enough a street edge to keep the tracks from sounding stereotypical. Add Wyclef Jean and Bikram Singh to Rekha’s mix of " Basement Bhangra Anthem" and you’ll know why the Basement Bhangra party is often a sold out event.

The CD, dense with gems like "Aaja Nachiye Boliyan Paiye," "Teri Sadi" and "Tin Cheejha," is a saucy exchange of the traditional and raucous rhythms. "Dhol, Dark & Hansome" is shrewdly DJ’d by Rekha, while a little short, it’s sophisticated and bold. Flavoring "Bhanghall" with a Jamaican sound, Rekha sets some fires in one of her own compositions with Dave Sharma. Tracks "Pasand" and "Sexy Boy" with vocals by Hard Kaur are pure party music with enough hip swinging spice to get your own basement party moving.

I can’t imagine why Rekha waited before she release her debut album, but I’m sure fans will be pleasantly pleased. I’m also sure there will be more CDs on the horizon for DJ Rekha.

Buy Basement Bhangra.

Author: TJ Nelson

TJ Nelson is a regular CD reviewer and editor at World Music Central. She is also a fiction writer. Check out her latest book, Chasing Athena’s Shadow.

Set in Pineboro, North Carolina, Chasing Athena’s Shadow follows the adventures of Grace, an adult literacy teacher, as she seeks to solve a long forgotten family mystery. Her charmingly dysfunctional family is of little help in her quest. Along with her best friends, an attractive Mexican teacher and an amiable gay chef, Grace must find the one fading memory that holds the key to why Grace’s great-grandmother, Athena, shot her husband on the courthouse steps in 1931.

Traversing the line between the Old South and New South, Grace will have to dig into the past to uncover Athena’s true crime.