How Jay Z x Panjabi MC's Iconic Hit Lit Up Pharell Williams’ Louis Vuitton Show

The successful partnership between Panjabi MC and Jay-Z highlighted the cross-pollination of musical styles and the global reach of hip-hop.
The successful partnership between Panjabi MC and Jay-Z highlighted the cross-pollination of musical styles and the global reach of hip-hop.L: High Snobiety R: Spotify

As hip-hop grew into a global phenomenon, it started a cross-cultural fusion of styles with Indian and Punjabi music used in samples and popular rappers from the West featuring on homegrown tracks. One of most pivotal moments in this musical convergence was when Jay Z decided to rap for Panjabi MC's hit track Mundian To Bach Ke. Two decades later, this fusion hip-hop track was celebrated again at Pharrell Williams' highly anticipated Louis Vuitton debut show.

While Panjabi MC is a renowned figure across the diasporic British-Indian hip-hop scene, his international breakthrough came with the release of Mundian To Bach Ke. Originally performed by Labh Janjua, the song was remixed by Panjabi MC in 1998 with a melody from the '80s TV show Knight Rider for his album Legalised and later released as a single in 2002. Its infectious blend of bhangra and hip-hop elements captured the attention of listeners worldwide, one of them being Jay Z who heard it in a Swiss nightclub and decided to do 2 verses for it. This collab was was released in February of 2003 as a single.

Listen to it below.

"It wasn’t like anything else playing. The bass line was propulsive and familiar, but it took me a second to realize it was from the theme song of Knight Rider. All I knew was it was something totally fresh. It felt like world music in the best sense."
Jay Z on 'Mundian To Bach Ke' by Panjabi MC

Released in February 2003, the collaborative version of Mundian To Bach Ke featuring Jay-Z quickly gained traction, becoming a massive hit in Europe. The successful partnership between Panjabi MC and Jay-Z highlighted the cross-pollination of musical styles and the global reach of hip-hop. Jay-Z's admiration for the track's bassline and recognition of its status as the best Indian music he had ever heard solidified the significance of this cultural exchange. Today the iconic refrain of the track has even had a bit of a cultural renaissance. It has become synonymous with 'Indian' music and has been memeified on TikTok and Instagram as a reference to anything desi.

Fast forward to Pharrell Williams' debut Louis Vuitton spring/summer 2024 where the world witnessed Jay Z perform the track again. The event itself was a spectacle, drawing in a star-studded audience that included luminaries such as Rihanna, A$AP Rocky, Beyoncé, and Jay-Z himself. As the crowd eagerly awaited the unveiling of Pharrell's first collection as Louis Vuitton's Menswear Creative Director, it was Jay-Z's performance that truly captivated everyone's attention.

Watch it below.

Jay-Z's presence at Pharrell Williams' Louis Vuitton debut show, along with his rendition of Panjabi MC's iconic track, underscored the immense influence of hip-hop on a global scale. It served as a reminder that art knows no boundaries and that creative expressions can bring people together, celebrating diversity and embracing cultural intersections.

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