[Photo Source: Facebook/Brooklyn Shanti]
Bengali-American artist Nathan Laskar, aka Brooklyn Shanti, went to Russia to heal a broken heart—and returned with an epic album that will have you hitting the repeat button endlessly.
An accomplished producer, emcee, and pioneer of Global/Tropical Bass/Dancehall fusion, Laskar is hip-hop’s official cultural ambassador to India. With his unique sound—and Russian inspiration—he’s taken his travel diaries and turned it into a fresh musical adventure. Titled “The Vodka Diary,” the album is a look at Laskar’s diary with stories of love, loss, and revival.
“I had just dodged a terminal illness and was in recovery from surgery,” Laskar explained. “I had also fallen for a girl who didn’t feel the same way as I did and I needed to find a way to get to clarity, I wasn’t finding peace in America or India.”
It seems the change in scenery was useful for not just Laskar’s physical and mental health but his music as well. With the success of the first single from the album, “Soviet Bhangra,” Laskar is premiering his second single, “Towers” exclusively on India.com! “Towers” is the album’s darker, “moombah-soul” driven, second single.
“It’s meant to represent the masquerade party that propaganda and media contribute to—from the cold war to the war on terror,” Laskar said. “These are concepts I think love, acceptance, and tolerance can eclipse.”
Check out the new music video which was shot in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Laskar has been innovatively transforming the South Asian approach to hip-hop. It’s no surprise that upon his arrival in Russia, the artist met up with some of the country’s most acclaimed bass music producers, such as Chuck Upbeat, Illocanblo, and Oligarkh. A cross section of South Asian and Russian influenced bass music was what Laskar was after.
“I found a chance to peer deep into myself and look around dark corners with a flashlight—and began writing diary entries of what I found,” Laskar said about his inspiration for “The Vodka Diary” (aka Matters of the Heart During the Anthropocene).“I learned the Anthropocene is a Soviet theory about how we are in a time period where human behavior is leading us to extinction of biodiversity at an exponential rate. I believe that extends to our own extinction because you can apply that to our rate of consuming cancer-causing substances and the alienation of true love via the use of technology as an excuse to hide from real world interpersonal connections. We as a species thrive upon our need for real love.”
Laskar premiered his first single, “Soviet Bhangra” on Diplo’s Mad Decent blog. The track, a collaboration with Soviet Bass pioneer Chuck Upbeat, is an ode to the mythology of Bengali freedom fighter, Subhas Chandra Bose, who some believe to have fled to St. Petersburg after partition.
“August 18 is the anniversary of Bose’s disappearance or death, and although I don’t agree with every aspect of his extremist ways, especially Fascism, I believe we can learn well from all lessons,” Laskar said. “That is what I was thinking precisely on that day in a studio in St. Petersburg, Russia—artists losing control of their art to corporations is the war against Fascism my generation is fighting against.”
Also included on the album are reworked versions of songs and collaborations with peers ranging from Major Lazer, The Glitch Mob, E.L. Copeland, Anoushka Shankar and Karsh Kale, to Fjord, El Freaky and Gyptian, A.R. Rahman’s protégé, AKS (Ashwin Subramanian), and many more.
Brooklyn Shanti’s “The Vodka Diary” is sure to ease you into the summer—one sip at a time.