ARCEE & Lil' Jazz performing with SPEK , Deesha , Basixx , Riksha , Gupreet Chana , Jugular and others as part of Masala! Mehndi! Masti! at Harbourfront Centre's Brigantine Room (235 Queens Quay West), Saturday (August 9), 11 pm. Free. 416-973-4000. Rating: NNNNN
At this weekend's Masala! Mehndi! Masti! celebration of South Asian culture, Toronto rapper Arcee will definitely be representing hiphop. But whether or not Arcee, the popular co-host of CKLN 88.1's Real Frequency hiphop show (Saturdays 1 to 4 pm) will be incorporating some Bollywood flava in his Harbourfront set is still a matter for discussion for the Asian-Canadian rapper and his accomplice, DJ Lil' Jazz.
They've got all the sample-rich vinyl source material they need to cut up - that's not the problem. In fact, I discovered during my conversation with Arcee that my Indian EMI copy of Ananda Shankar And His Music came circuitously through him. He'd originally dug up eight copies on a family trip back to Calcutta a few years back.
For Arcee, it all comes down to keeping it real. Things can sometimes get complicated when perceptions of authenticity are involved.
"All my Indian buddies keep telling me, 'It would be so great if you started rhyming over Indian music!'" smiles Arcee, shaking his head. "Even my mom was, like, 'Because it's an Indian show you're playing, are you going to do something with Indian music?'
"Well, we are looking into it right now. I definitely want to do something new, because I can't perform the same show twice. But with the Bollywood thing, the bottom line is that it has to sound good. If Lil' Jazz and I can come up with something that works and sounds great, we'll do it."
Because the Bollywood sound is making its way into mainstream hiphop, most notably with the Dr. Dre-produced hit remix of the Addictive track by The Truth (which samples Lata Mangeshkar's rendition of the Bappi Lahiri tune Thoda Resham Lagta Hai from the soundtrack of the Hindi film Jyoti), it seems as if it would be a natural move for Arcee to flip some R.D. Burman beats. But it's not that simple.
"There's a feeling that, hey, you're South Asian, you should be working with Indian music, but I'm hiphop to the core. Hiphop music is what I'm most comfortable with - it's what I'm all about. I didn't grow up hearing a lot of Indian music in the house. When my parents had friends over for parties in the basement, the music they played was Boney M, Rick James and some 70s disco. I wasn't saturated with the Bollywood stuff as a child.
"So moving into a Bollywood thing with hiphop is something new to me. To pull it off, we're going to need to take some time and do it properly. I don't want anyone to think I'm just jumping on this because some producers are having hits with a Bollywood flava.
"So all I'll say about the upcoming show is 'Expect the unexpected. '"