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Young Sikhs Of Youtube

Young Sikhs Of Youtube

August 25, 2010

Move over Young Turks, the Young Sikhs are on the move.

I grew up in the days before the internet was a reality. My high school was considered a leader in tech because we had three – count them! three! – Commodore 64’s, complete with audio cassette tape data storage. If you wanted to learn about somewhere else, you went to the library and you read about it. Information was something you had to work for to obtain. It wasn’t just sitting there on a box on my table, ready willing and able to find whatever I’d like to know, 24/7, barring DSL outages or summertime rolling blackouts.

Now we have the internet; as much a boon to mankind as the Gutenberg printing press, and as much a scourge as the worst gossip-monger or agent provocateur. The ridiculous and misinformed witch hunt by certain Americans against vaccinations as being a cause of autism being a stellar example of the damage that internet “wisdom” can do when divorced from critical thinking, deductive reasoning, and knowing how to properly use key words.

On the other hand, if it wasn’t for the internet, I would probably never have discovered bhangra, and following from that, a growing love and appreciation of India and its kaleidoscope of culture; at least not without actually traveling there. And this is something that is likely never going to be possible for me. I have to admire India from afar, and without the internet, it would simply not be possible to the extent that it is.

I think of the internet as a vast branching tree, each inquiry leading into another; seamlessly flowing from topic to topic, bright fruits of interest cropping up and being devoured and added to my own personal store of knowledge. It’s like a labyrinth in a wonderland. I never know where each jaunt along the twigs of information is going to lead me. There is so much to fascinate and astound at every turn. It makes my brain happy and sometimes my heart even sings – especially when I find some good music for it to sing along with.

Take for example a recent jaunt through the slipstream on YouTube. A friend had forwarded me a link to the Nawtik’s Take It Out (Of Me). After viewing that with delight a few times, I looked in related videos and saw one titled, The Desi Jigglypuff Thief.

I don’t only love India, I grudgingly admit that I like Pokemon as well. It’s hard not to get into them when you have two children that are nuts about them. I had to investigate this Jigglypuff deal.

Six minutes and several sore ribs later, I’d found a new YouTube favorite, a young man at the University of Guelph known on YouTube as Jus Reign. I’ve watched every one of his 24 videos, some of them several times. His sense of the ridiculous and grasp of comedic timing are excellent and I see a future as a successful comic in his future. Be sure to check out his ShamWOW parody BanainWOW, Indian Parents Are Crazy, and A-1 Shopping Cart Driving School and see if you find him as funny as I do.

In Jus Reign’s video, WTF Where’s My Cat? I discovered another Canadian Sikh by the name of Babbu. Tracking across the recommended videos, I found Babbu also associated with a series of videos featuring Harman the Hater, by Kanwer Singh.

Harman the Hater is also funny in his own way, though his videos don’t have the polish that Jus Reign’s have, I did very much enjoy some of the ones I watched; including what I thought was the best of them, Harman Hates Macs/Babysitting.

The host of the Harman the Hater videos is only the voice of someone going by the name of K-Man. Of course K-Man is Kanwer Singh. And Kanwer Singh is also rapper Humble the Poet.

Humble the Poet covers subject matter that speaks to the taboos of South Asian culture, such as domestic violence. I’m not a huge fan of rap, but his message and style transcended my usual boundaries of music taste. Be About It, and A Milli (Revolution Remix) are proof positive that rap can contain a positive message and speak about things other than cop killings and hos. His Singh With Me, a deep video with a message about 1984 is particularly poignant and everyone should see it, whether they know about that part of history or not. It’s the kind of video that can make people that have no knowledge of an event go looking for it, to see what happened, and perhaps even become a little more enlightened about folks in other parts of the world.

The producer of Humble’s best videos, and another person of interest I discovered on my cruise through YouTube’s Canadian young Sikhs to watch, was Sikh Knowledge who runs the record label Bank of Mount-Real. Openly gay, his blog describes attitudes towards his sexual orientation coming from the South Asian community.

Many comments on both Humble’s channel, and Sikh Knowledge’s blog were saddening to see. They face a lot of discrimination in their own communities for not being Sikh enough, or not being dignified and giving Indians a bad name by rapping. Not to mention the embarrassing comments left by my fellow Westerners who showed their ignorance and made the rest of us look bad. We really aren’t all of us that loutish, uninformed and just plain nasty stupid, I swear!

I suppose its human nature to fear and resent change, and the internet’s relative anonymity makes it easy to say hurtful things that really oughtn’t be spoken. My understanding as an outsider of Sikhi is that no one is inferior and everyone should be accepted as an equal even if they don’t have the same beliefs or traditions. It’s how I try to live my own life. It’s not easy sometimes. Us vs. Them is so ingrained in human cultures of all kinds that it must be hard wired and very difficult to transcend without constant introspection and vigilance, For Humble’s and Sikh Knowledge’s sakes I am saddened to see how much vitriol a closed mind can spew, and how hurtful a person can be, when they don’t truly celebrate and accept diversity in all its forms.

All these fresh young minds are bridging the divide between East and West
 by joining the two cultures in their own art. As the world gets smaller and we become more than ever woven into the great tapestry that is a worldwide culture made up of parts of all the world’s local cultures, we will need people like these to show us that we can become more than we are by accepting more than we have known. Why should we treasure only things that come from our own past histories, when we have the whole world to sample from, and take delight in?

Here’s to the Young Sikhs of Canada – may they be leaders into the world of the future.


  • paramvir singh
    paramvir singh
    07.04.11 09:47 AM
    hi Gori! There is an awesome lot of work happening ion this area of bhangra. And it was quiet popular, before the mighty marketing muscle of bollywood drowned any other kind of music! In fact I grew up listening to Pump Up The Bhangra Volumes 1 and 2 (dont know if a third volume ever came out).

    all the best! balle shera!
  • Very Surprised Singh
    Very Surprised Singh
    13.11.10 02:25 AM
    What's particularly startling about this article is the way you discovered each Sikh Canadian artist by following through the videos - mainly because I went down exactly the same path! (Even when we noticed Babbu and then found Harman the Hater)
    I guess small things amaze me lol, but it's great to see that YouTube (and the internet in general) allows our minds to flow freely and navigate down paths to continually discover new aspects of life.

    Thanks for the insightful article :)
  • Vinny
    04.11.10 06:00 PM
    This a very inspiring article on how the outsiders of the Indian Community view us and our comedy. I myself have just launched my own YouTube channel called OyeVinny. Check it out and give me feedback!
  • Some Desi Chick
    Some Desi Chick
    01.09.10 09:44 PM
    I am a huge fan of JusReign's. He is hilarious and unique in what he does. You should DEFINITELY check out AKakaAmazing. He is another sikhi comedian on youtube. :)
  • Sarah Hussain
    Sarah Hussain
    27.08.10 09:10 AM
    Very nice blog. Thanks for it. You should also check out the band JoSH if you havn't yet. Probably the most versatile an affluent music I've heard in a very long time. Check it out
  • Chris
    26.08.10 11:02 PM
    great article
    let's not forget about young author Nav K Gill who wrote under the moonlit sky..wich is already a teen best seller
  • Gori Girl
    Gori Girl
    26.08.10 09:00 PM
    I just came across Saint Soldier's wonderful video "Sister" last night. I think it is absolutely wonderful and commendable that this new wave of young Sikh performers is speaking out against these great human tragedies.

    I only had room to cover who I did cover in this story, but no doubt I will soon have enough "volunteers" to write about some more of these young performers.
  • Hap
    26.08.10 07:37 AM
    lets not forget about SaintSoldier from BC, Canada! He's holding it down on the West Coast:

    and THANK YOU for the great article!
  • GSArora
    26.08.10 05:55 AM
    This was a great article, although these guys are on a WAY higher level than the "Young Turks".
  • Gori Girl
    Gori Girl
    25.08.10 11:51 PM
    And people say randomly clicking on YouTube is a waste of time. ;)
  • Pulkit
    25.08.10 11:03 PM
    Fascinating read. I had no idea about this, goes to show how much talent is out there and a lot of the times it is restricted to one locality. Really funny videos and even more interesting how they are negotiating their Indian-Sikh-Canadian identities. It clearly shows in the videos - the commentary on Indian and Sikh customs and culture from a youthful Canadian perspective.
  • Gori Girl
    Gori Girl
    25.08.10 10:51 PM
    I'm really glad you enjoyed the article. I've enjoyed discovering these guys and their talent.
  • Harjote Singh
    Harjote Singh
    25.08.10 09:07 PM
    Great article! Each one of those individuals are entertainment wise, talented in their own way!
    Young Sikh rapper, "Young Fateh," is also doing his thing proper!

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