Think of Hip Hop and one image that flashes across our mind are songs interspersed with lots of profanity, misogyny, violence, bling-bling and hot gals. Over the years, Hip Hop music has churned out various artists, but nothing beats the Denmark-based band Outlandish. The troika of Waqas Ali Qadri, Isam Bachiri and Lenny Martinez form Outlandish – a unique Hip Hop band whose eclectic sound and strong socio-cultural views makes it stand apart from any other run of the mill Hip Hop band belting out gratuitous numbers!
A winner of numerous awards, Outlandish was formed in 1996-97 by three friends hailing from diverse cultural backgrounds. With Waqas Ali Qadri hailing from Pakistan, Isam Barachi from Morocco and Lenny Martinez from Latin America, Outlandish offers a fresh sound to the Hip Hop scene dissimilar to the gangsta rap. Given their varied ethnic milieu, Outlandish’s music is a rich blend of Moroccan, Pakistani and Latin American sounds harmonized with Spanish, Urdu, Arabic and Danish lyrics thereby giving a whole new dimension to the band’s music.
With past hits like ‘Aicha’, ‘Peelo’, ‘Look Into My Eyes’, ‘Just Me’, ‘Walou’ and ‘Nothing Left To Do,’ the band has carved a niche for themselves. ‘Sounds Of A Rebel’ (2009) is the latest album by Outlandish which is once again making waves in the Hip Hop circuit, while topping the charts at music channels and radio stations.
Recently, Bru Ice Cappucchino in association with Vh1 brought Outlandish on a three-day tour to India. On July 10, 2009, Outlandish came to Delhi’s Hard Rock Café where it enthralled the audience with its refreshing dose of music – in a complete Outlandish style!
In a freewheeling chat with Spicezee.com’s Aman Kanth , Outlandish talks about its unique music, its values and its love for India.
Aman : Outlandish is a strange name for a band – any reason behind choosing such a name?
Outlandish : When we started way back in 1996-97, we wanted to carve our unique identity in the Danish music scene. The name Outlandish has a certain shock value and it surely made us stand apart from the rest of the crowd.
Aman : How did your musical journey begin?
Outlandish : We all (Waqas, Isam and Lenny) belong to same neighbourhood. In fact, Lenny and Waqas went to the same school. After school hours, there were a lot of things to catch up and when Hip Hop came, we all started rapping. Basically, none of us come from a musical background and during those days, we did not even have guitars at home.
Aman : Your songs offer an eclectic mix of various sounds – a lot of Danish, Arabian, Latin American and Spanish sounds. What’s your music all about?
Outlandish : We are basically a Hip Hop band, but our music is a blend of various genres such as Reggae and Blues. We grew up on various sounds, be it Bollywood music of films like ‘Sholay’, ‘Satte Pe Satta’ or Latin American music. Well, many bands may focus on bling-bling and stuff like that; for us, our music is all about discovering new sounds and expressing ourselves. We grew up in Denmark, it is a different society where there is no gangsta rap. For us, we create our own unique sound and vision through Hip Hop.
Aman : What are your musical influences?
Outlandish : Fugees, Outkast and Michael Jackson are some of our musical influences.
Aman : Your songs carry deeper meanings – in a sense they carry strong socio-political undercurrents. Is that a conscious decision to make your music focus on a lot of contemporary issues?
Outlandish : Well, of course, our music has a social realistic side too. We express ourselves in our own way. It’s a humane perspective – a state of mind that inspires us. For instance, in India, we come across different cultures and its problems such as poverty, this definitely affects us. Whether it’s the war in Iraq or Afghanistan, it’s all in the background. We do discuss these things in our daily lives. We are not like artists living in an ivory tower cut off from the rest of the world. We are conscious of what’s going around us.
Aman : Tell us something about your new album, ‘Sounds of a Rebel’?
Outlandish : We never stand on the same spot twice. We keep moving. We don’t want to do another ‘Aicha’. It’s like the world changes and so does your perspective. The new album is all about us, our relationships. It’s about the energy of going back to the studio and catching up with each other. It certainly offers a fresh sound.
Aman : How do you find India, especially Bollywood?
Outlandish : India is very inspirational. It is a beautiful and great country that has diverse cultural and historical background. In fact, we are honoured to be in India. We thank our fans; people still remember us is a great feeling as we have a loyal fan base. About Bollywood, we would love to meet AR Rahman. The last time we met him was in 2004 at the Emmy’s. We would like to get in touch with him and also look forward to working with him.
Aman : Finally, what’s your message for your fans?
Outlandish : We thank all our fans for their unconditional support. They are the source of our inspiration that goes back to our music.