Twinjabi, an Indian-American rap duo from Kentucky, dropped their two singles ‘Bombay‘ and ‘Mere Paas‘ on ZEE5. This unique group raps in Punjabi and hopes to take Indian culture and music into mainstream America. We sit down for a chat with them and find out their inspirations to reach where they are and their ambitions to go where no Indian artists have gone before.
Watch their hit song, Bombay, here.
How does it feel representing Punjabi rap in The US?
It’s really great because we are representing brown culture in rural Kentucky where it is not really represented. We’re kind of taking what we heard in Kentucky and fusing it with the Punjabi Indian culture we heard.
How did this journey start?
It all started with just a dream really, because we didn’t have any songs or anything. We started with a blank page but we put in the work. They say you need to put ten thousand hours to master something and we did that. We started recording in 2018, Mere Paas was recorded in 2018 and we have only started putting out our music now. To all the artists wondering how they can make a good song, put in the work, put in the ten thousand hours.
We have that young energy of new India, because we want to show our culture and we truly feel India is the greatest country. Our fans are young and we share similar sentiments.
You’ve both graduated from prestigious universities. So how did your parents react to your rapping career?
(Both chuckle) That is a complicated question. We do everything and we’re not going to be put in a box. In our music as well, we don’t like being put in a box. We represent brown people and they expect our people to be only doctors and engineers, we cannot be creative and have fun.
How well versed are you with the Indian Hip-hop scene?
Oh! we are well versed. I mean Divine is really big and we like Chal Bombay and Gully Gang. Even Honey Singh to some extent. We are familiar with them but the same people have been around for over 10 years now and there needs to be new blood coming in.
I mean no disrespect to them, but we would put our music at par with any of them. Sure, they have been good consistently but give us a couple of years too. 2020 will be a big year for us because Mere Paas just released on ZEE5. We will be releasing new songs every month and they will most likely be on ZEE5, so it should be great.
What was the inspiration behind ‘Bombay’ and ‘Mere Paas’, your first two releases of 2020?
This is our very first visit to Bombay, but the idea of Bombay was always with us. We would see it in Bollywood movies with Hrithik Roshan and just be fascinated. The song represents that feeling of being born in rural Kentucky and then coming to Bombay and having your music video played on TV and on ZEE5. The beat we used in the song is also quite dreamy.
Mere Paas is more romantic rapping. It’s about the early stages of the relationship where you want your special one to be right next to you. Then a month or two later you just say give me some space for a while. It’s not a typical love song.
Watch Mere Paas on ZEE5.
Talking of love, Is any one of you in a relationship? Since it’s Valentine’s Day?
Let me put it this way, there’s girls that we like but for now our relationship is only with music. We’re young right now and we believe that you should work hard when you are young. Kobe Bryant who passed away recently, was a big inspiration to us. We want to work hard to be at that level you know. We will be showing a lot of love to Brown girls this year because we have 2 songs ‘Rani Recognise’ and another one later this year. We want them to be appreciated and we will holler at the Brown Girls this year.
Tell us about your big plans, your American dream…
We’re doing it right now. We want to bring Twinjabi to the world. We want to bring brown culture to the world. You’ve seen Latino culture really have a moment with artists like Drake and Justin Bieber also recognizing it in their music. We wonder how long they will keep India out? How long are they not going to represent over a billion people? We’re trying to bring Indian swag to America in a big way like the NBA halftime show and Superbowl.
What is the greatest compliment you got for your music?
We want the young generation of brown people to really look at us and see a representation of themselves. We’ve got messages saying ‘I listened to your songs on the way to my final exam’ I think that’s amazing. We do everything with integrity and nothing is fake. We don’t buy fake views, wear fake things or boast about fake things in our videos. Today our song Bombay is played on VH1 six times a day and we are on the cover of a Spotify rap playlist for the last three months.
Check out the exclusive segment on Mumbai Slangs with Twinjabi.
With this level of success with only two songs released, Twinjabi are set to make a lasting impact with their music in 2020. Watch out for more of their music and videos on ZEE5.