Beats, Rhymes & Life according to Danish
Outlandish in London, a star studded
Words: Ashanti OMkar
Photographs: Akin Falope
super group, the critically acclaimed Outlandish, are the name on everyone’s
lips at the moment, where they have released a superb compilation album called
Beats, Rhymes & Life. The venue ‘Notting Hill Arts Club’ was sold out of
tickets, as the anticipation built up, for the young rappers/vocalists to come
in and mingle with the fans. Many a young, beautiful girl, not to mention many
lads attended, in hope of meeting, greeting and hearing live, their heroes, Waqas, Isam & Lenny, who have an exquisite, unique sound, dealing with real
issues, minus the pretentious ‘Bling Bling’, negativity and swearing mentality
of most Rap music.
of Outlandish to get an insight into this inimitable
itself had attracted a variety of cultures, making up a broad multi-cultural
audience (including young ladies dressed in Hijabs) – they were all there to
enjoy the music and party. A major sprinkling of Asian popular personalities
(including BBC’s Reju, EastEnders heart-throb actor, Ameet Chana, Asian female
rapper, Hardkaur and the very talented and humble ‘The Mentor’ – one of
2point9/Rishi Rich’s Label producers) also mingled into the gathering, which was
to not only including Outlandish, but also the popular Sony Gold Award winning
DJ’s, Bobby Friction & Desi DNA’s gorgeous Nihal, who continued with the
spinning of records after the band played.
started off comparing the programme, by announcing the group onto the stage,
thus creating a wild frenzy of screams from the fans. Outlandish didn’t waste
any time in starting and entertaining, playing songs from their smash hit album,
Bread & Barrels of Water, including the hits Aisha, Gunatanamo and the very
cute Peelo. The surprise element came in when Waqas called onto the stage, Rishi
Rich, Juggy D and Jay Sean, who were amongst the crowd – the chart busting, AMA
winning team. The single release from the new Outlandish album, ‘Walou’, is a Rishi Rich tune and Outlandish did a great set promoting it, on Rishi’s very
popular Kiss FM show. Jay Sean and Juggy D set the stage ablaze with their
talents, by showing a small sample of their talents and then Jay Sean broke into
a freestyle beat box session, engaging Outlandish to spar with him with their
ad-lib rapping – what a sound it created, such speed, such lyrics – this was
definitely the highlight of the evening, along with the meeting of these 3 young
rappers, who show such humility and profoundness in their music.
Q: Tell us about your background, heritage and roots.
three of us - Islam, Waqas and Lenny - come from different backgrounds. I am
(Waqas) Pakistani; Islam has his roots in Morocco and Lenny is from Honduras. We
are based in Copenhagen and that's where we met and started off. We have been
very good friends since our school days.
Q: How did you come together as
Basically we met playing football in Copenhagen. You can say we
met in the playground. Also we lived in the same neighborhood and used to do
things together. We realised that we three had one common passion: the love of
music and that's what drove us further together. We loved break dancing but we
were not good at that and it was due to the lack of dancing prowess that we
decided to explore other facets of hip hop culture and eventually pick up the
mike. American rap artistes have been a huge influence on us and we wanted to be
like them. Inspired by American rap, we started to experiment with our own
cultural music. At that stage I was attracted towards the classical songs of
Madam Noor Jehan, Lata Mangeshter and Muhammad Rafi. Islam picked up famous
Arabic singers like Um-me-Kulssom etc. and Lenny took up experimenting with
Q: What was the reaction in your family/community, on
your choice to do Hip-Hop, which is considered 'bad-boy' music?
honest, it was mind-boggling for them all at the beginning. They couldn't make
any sense in what I was doing. Being typical Asian parents, my parents had
wanted me to become an engineer or a doctor. They were asked by other members of
the community about the field I had chosen. Things like 'look, your son is
becoming a musician' were said. They were concerned about what the other people
will say! They were really confused but when they saw that we were not into the
stuff like the other artistes were (jewellery, women, guns, gangsterism), they
became fine with that. They are happy and proud of us because they are
approached by people who tell them 'thanks, your son's music has changed my
son's life for better'. They are satisfied because they know we represent the
values of goodness and humanity in our music.
Q: Your 'sound', it's
unique? How has this come about?
Its like we have mixed our musical
backgrounds in hip-hop, from Indian and Pakistani music and from Arabic and
Honduras. We like to experiment with vocals and it's such a great feeling. We
concentrate on how we use the music in different ways and in unique fashion. We
like to experiment with vocals. On my part, I know I m deeply impressed by Asian
music, especially Pakistani music, because it has got a lot of depth and great,
seem to be very multilingual? How did you learn so many
Basically I learnt Danish language because I was born in
Denmark. I have been speaking English and Urdu since my childhood with my
parents and my cousins in Pakistan and now with my wife. But I don't understand
the difficult form of Urdu. A lot of young people in Denmark prefer to go a
mosque where prayers are led by a Danish converted Muslim or someone Arabic
speaking because they cant' understand the heavy sounding Urdu language spoken
by prayer leaders.
Q: Tell us about your album, Bread and Barrels of
Water? How did it come about?
Bread and Barrels of Water is our second
album. Its international debut album and deals with the themes from everyday
life. It has a lot of spiritual meaning and the insistence is on how we should
be thankful for what we have. It's about how materialism has snatched from us
the peace of mind and given birth to worries for no good. It also looks on how
this world is in its present shape marred by conflicts and tensions. Our first
album was a debut in which we had a lot of different kind of subjects,
prominently the ethical element. It emphasized the need of respect, family
values and peaceful living on this earth. It was well accepted and received many
Q: Did you struggle to get signed?
Naturally, we had a
lot of difficulties about what we wanted to do. We had to do lots of things on
our own. The already established in the music field were not interested in
giving an ear to us. But we never gave up. I would pick up a Noor Jehan song and
mix it. So it was basically our resolution, which helped us stand the ground and
reach where we are today.
Q: Who does the technical aspects of your
Every idea starts with us. When I go to Pakistan and India, I pick
up dozens of CD's - both pop and classical - and by listening you get different
kind of new ideas. We listen to English, Urdu, Arabic and Latin music and that
of course helps us in forming ideas. Also we work with different kind of people.
Q: Tell us about the content of the lyrics and the messages you are
trying to put out there.
We don't have a specific message. There is one
message, which I must say, is the supreme message that at the end of the day we
are all the same, we all belong to human race. We should have respect and love
for each other. The creator has made this earth especially for us human beings
and He wants us to be good human beings. We should try to be as good in our
beliefs and ideas as we can be. We believe that everything we do is how we
represent our traditions and culture and who we are. There should be no place
for hatred for anyone in this life. We should strive for reducing the sufferings
of our fellow human beings. To achieve these objectives, we got to equip
ourselves with knowledge. Seeking more and more knowledge should be our motto.
Q: Do you promote peace?
Yes, we will always fight for peace in
our lyrics. It’s no secret that the world we live in an ugly place. For us as
musicians we have responsibility on our shoulders, as a lot of people don't know
what's going on in the world and what are the causes. We, the band members, come
from places where there is a lot of prejudice and social mayhem. It obviously
makes us politically conscious about the happenings in the world around. But
regardless of who we are, and what we stand for, it’s duty upon us all to strive
for peace and tranquility.
Q: What are the audiences you want to reach,
who are untapped?
We want to reach everybody, not only Asians or English
or Arabs. We want to reach out to every region and everyone. Music is the
universal language and we don't believe in boundaries.
Tell us about
'Beats, Rhymes & Life'.
Basically it's a combination of what we have
done so far. Its like we have brought together the a few people from around the
world who have done a great service for the music. It’s also a reflection of who
has impressed and influenced us. I must say I am a huge fan of Pakistani music. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan inspires me unbelievably. I would love to work with Mekaal
Hassan Band, they are the cool best thing coming out after Junoon. I have spoken
to many pop and classical singers like Ali Haider, Shehzad Roy, Fuzon band,
Abrar-ul-Haq and the Junoon group and looking forward to work with them.
How did you come across the artistes in the compilation?
all of these artistes. We have been listening to their music. They have been
producing pretty good music. All of it has great meaning, I mean it's about
peace, love and humanity. Theirs is
Q: Which artistes did you most enjoy
We have not done music with so many artistes. I had a dream
of working with the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. I was so proud when on our
recent tour to Indian, Shah Rukh Khan Sanjay Dutt and Junoon's Ali Azmat
recognized us. They appreciated us for our music and gave a lot of
encouragement. That did us proud.
Q: What do you think of the present
climate in politics, considering war and peace?
It's crappy! Politicians
have hidden agendas. Look at the so-called 'War against terrorism', its killing
and maiming innocent people who have done nothing wrong. The real problem is the
powerful do not want peace in this world. They do not want the conflicts to end
as they suppose peace will not serve their agendas. But no matter how
strife-ridden this world becomes, we have to never give up on the fight for
peace. We always have to fight to become better people in our lives and to make
this world a better place to live.
Q: Any messages for your already
growing fan base?
I would just say that thank you very much for all your
continuing support, for having faith in our music and us. God bless you all and
you always stay happy!