Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Bikram Singh - Bik.I.am Review

Album titles are important. They represent the songs in an album and suggest the themes that they contain. Although it sounds like the name of a certain singer, Bik.I.am is a nice title. I think the letter “I” in the title should represent identity, innovation and independence. The album has 14 tracks. Nine of the songs are produced by Tigerstyle and have the duo’s instantly recognisable beats. The remaining five are collaborations with other producers. These collaborations show that Bikram is prepared to take risks, explore new ideas and develop as a solo artist outside the successful Bikram - Tigerstyle marriage.

The album opens with 2 singles that Bikram has previously released: Kinna Sohna Munda, which I blogged about here, and Beyonce. Listeners expected a traditional bhangra track but Beyonce sounded very different to everything Bikram had previously released. Beyonce makes more sense musically when listened to as part of the album as it blends in with the other fusion tracks.

Electro Love Boliyan
is a modern twist on a traditional style of song. This is my favourite out of the more experimental songs and I‘m pleased that it is has it’s own video and single release. The production by Ranbir S is brilliant and manages to maintain a good balance between Bikram’s vocals and fancy effects underneath. Just for a Dance has a few Arabic samples in it as well as some more modern beats. The overall effect is nice, even if the lyrics don’t quite make sense and Bikram is sidelined by guest vocalists.

Jaaniye is another collaboration. PropheC produced the track and contributed vocals, but I wish he had not sung with Bikram. He is a very talented vocalist, but I do not think Bikram and PropheC’s vocals blend well enough together to make this duet work for me. I do not dislike the track, the lyrics and melody are beautiful, I just think it would have sounded better if it had been a solo one by either artist.

Fans of Gunjan will be disappointed to find she doesn’t feature on the album. Jyoti Gill provides the only female vocals on the album in Ghar Aja Ve Mahi. This song has a nice folksy garba feel to it and her vocals, which are as good as Gunjan’s, blend well with Bikram’s vocals. This is a great duet and a brilliant partnership. I would have liked another song by Bikram and Jyoti on the album and hope there are more on future releases.

Many of the tracks like KSM and  ELB that fall into the traditional category, but have a definite modern feel to them. This edgy traditional sound is something that Bikram does very well.  Naina’ch Sharab has a few funky samples which makes this much more than a drinking song. Tenu Kinne Sikhaya is another song with a modern edge. Johal Premi’s vocals are brilliant and work well with Bikram’s to make this a great track.

Even though Bikram has branched out and played around with new genres, there are enough traditional tracks to keep listeners happy. These ensure that the album appeals to a wide range people. Yaari Yaaran Di, and Nachegi are two bhangra tracks that are worth a listen. Mein Na Avaga is slow and traditional in contrast to the faster tracks. 

Verdict: There is a good mix of traditional yet modern tracks on this album as well as more experimental songs. I love the Bikram - Tigerstyle relationship, but the other collaborations work well and prove Bikram is versatile independent artist. Bik.I.am is a solid album with a unique sound that should be played again and again.

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