Art & Culture
Three armed men with long dyed hair and tonnes of studs and piercings, are seen partying with saree-clad women holding guns. This is a visual from LA-based desi trap and hip-hop Bangladeshi band Bhanga Bangla’s recently released music video Borof with Sony Music India. The video was shot in Kolkata.
Born in 2018, the band, comprising three brothers — 41X, Young Prince and Ivory Shakur, has been redefining desi trap and hip-hop with their music and has released singles like The Village, Matha Ta Fatabo, Chup Thak, and Jhamela Nai in the past. The trio is part of the new wave of hip-hop music being created by South Asian artists around the world. Young Prince says that it feels great to be a part of a partnership of this nature — releasing the music video Borof under Sony Music’s hip-hop-focused imprint, Awaaz. “We have to thank the team at Desi Hip Hop — a premier lifestyle brand and digital media company bringing together artists, music, culture and technology from South Asia and Sony Music,” he adds.
Those who don’t understand Bengali, there’s a logic behind the band’s name. Enlightening us about it, 41X says, “Bhanga means ‘broken’ in Bengali, and since we are a little less fluent in Bengali, it made sense to name the group around that concept. We didn’t want to act something we are not.”
The band’s music is all about storytelling and is inspired by the music of their city — Los Angeles. “We write music, but we also tell stories and these stories are all interlinked. Each music video is shown in a different year, a metaphor for the world that we currently live in. Even though these are fictional, we take inspiration from real life events,” quips Young Prince.
Their music videos have grabbed eyeballs for featuring the members of Bhanga Bangla in eye-catching visuals. The visuals do not just represent their Bangladeshi roots, but also highlight their American desi heritage and upbringing. Ivory Shakur points out, “We love showcasing our people (brown / desi) in powerful positions. We grew up not seeing any brown superheroes, no female superheroes (except Superwoman). Hence, we like to showcase brown / desi superheroes, especially female superheroes (for example, our third single The Village). We believe in representing our own culture through our art. We want to represent our culture to the world in every which way including our music, videos, and even outfits.”
The band members ensure that the tracks have a balance between their Bengali roots and American pop culture and offer newness to its audience. 41X admits that the balance between the two can be difficult, but that’s why they like to do it. “Going through the challenge of balancing culture and heritage of the past with the music of modern times, is exactly what makes us grow as individuals,” he highlights.
As songwriters, they want to speak about a few pressing issues through their art, however, not many are able to comprehend their message. Young Prince says, “We believe our music will speak for itself. One day, hindsight will be 20/20 and the stories will all come together and make sense to everyone.”
The band doesn’t only want to promote regional music at a global level, but also aims at talking about the human experience. Ivory Shakur, explains, “Our music videos showcase a little snippet of the stories we would like to tell. It may seem like a lot of chaos in the videos, but the videos are metaphors for the present time. For example, our music video The Village begins with the text: ‘Aygnihor Era’. Aygnihor is literally ‘Rohingya’ written backwards. During that time, we felt a deep need to tell the story of Rohingya refugees in Myanmar, and we wanted to do it subtly. In the video, we wanted to show that the Rohingyas were able to stand up and make a difference. Similarly, we like to use metaphors throughout our music videos and use those to create visuals that are empowering to desi / brown people around the world.”