Rajma ke baad
Thoda aa jata hain fart
I know baby, it’s heavy on your heart.
- Baba Sehgal
The words written above are from Baba Sehgal’s track ‘Going To The Gym’ and I don’t think there’s a greater introduction to his body of work than this. Why? Because after hearing this on YouTube, you’ll probably be recommended songs like ‘Aloo Ka Paratha’ & ‘Chicken Fried Rice’. So your gym-going motivations must be put on hold because you need to hear Baba singing praises about these dishes.
I want you to close your eyes. Actually, keep them open so you can keep reading. Now, who do you think is India’s first rapper? If you thought of Baba Sehgal, you were correct. He released his first album ‘Dilruba’ in 1990 and his 92’ album ‘Thanda Thanda Pani’ sold 5 million cassettes, making it the first successful Indian rap album.
The single ‘Thanda Thanda Paani’ alone sold 50 lakh cassettes in the first year of its release. That’s huge. To say the song sampled Vanilla Ice’s ‘Ice Ice Baby’ is to overcomplicate it. The song in question is about, you guessed it, cold water and simply that. No symbolism, no gimmicks, what you see is what you get. Every single one of Baba’s songs are indicative of that.
Some people have the misconception that Baba Sehgal is a parody artist. I can see where that comes from. He released a song called ‘Main Bhi Madonna’ in 93’ where he calls himself out for sampling Ice Ice Baby and then calls out Vanilla Ice for sampling Queen in the first place while having a fictional(?) conversation with Madonna. His 99’ single ‘Abb Mein Vengaboy’ is a declaration of his love for partying and most recently, ‘Rihana O Rihana’ which is a proclamation of his fandom for the artist along with an invitation to meet him at his house whenever she comes to India. But Baba Sehgal is no Devang Patel or Weird Al Yankovic. It seems to me that Baba is just a huge fan of these artists and he wants to celebrate them in his work.
I have the privilege of following Baba on Instagram. You’ll get to see him drop bars and freestyle from the comfort of his home, with strangers on the streets, and fans that he bumps into. Luckily for us he releases new verses almost every morning and I can’t think of a better serotonin boost. Almost every time he ends it with a ‘Yo’ that you can’t help repeat back to him on the screen.
The love he receives on his content is as wholesome as it gets. Comment sections are filled with love, positive messages and praise. Baba Sehgal also performed at the 2015 edition of the Nh7 Weekender in Pune and while I missed it, my friend still maintains that it was his favourite performance from all the festivals he has ever attended. Baba Sehgal has released close to 22 albums, and countless singles and is making new music for us even today. He’s unabashedly true to himself and proud of his work. And I? I’m just happy I get to bear witness to his creativity.
While there might be a few trolls lurking here and there, it’s safe to say that either ironically or unironically, Baba’s work is genuinely loved and celebrated.
You can find Baba Sehgal here.
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