Monday, June 20, 2005


Satish Talim

I took this decision to stay back in India and not go to the US, way back in 1978. It has not been bad and with the Software sector now in full bloom, I get the best of both worlds! As you might have guessed, I am a software professional.



Double-platinum rap trio The Invisible People recently announced the world premier of their self-produced EP (Expect the Unexpected) and video “Premeditated Murder: Meditated Upon”. Three brothers, originally from the Fiji Islands, are I Be M, Skitzofrenic, and Mr. Sandmantis. Their Indian decent and multi-cultural influences sweat like spices from their hard-hitting hip hop symphonies. The Invisible People don’t just produce and write. They compose, using a sophisticated arrangement of sounds, samples, and live players reminiscent of rock legends that dared to tread beyond the norm. The Invisible People style pays respect to a rich history of music and musicians be it blues, jazz, classical, hip hop, rock or Indian. They love music and it shows in their distinct sound. They are not afraid to experiment, to express, or to go into uncharted territory. In fact, they insist on it and L.A.’s independent Hip Hop label and media powerhouse Indus Street Entertainment is quick to oblige. The result is a group that is rooted in hard-core Hip Hop, yet has broken barriers. The Invisible People ‘Rock’ in every sense of the word.

The video for “Premeditated Murder: Meditated Upon”, which may be viewed on www.invisible-people.com, is an ideal example of The Invisible People style. In fact, it is a signature aspect of The Invisible Peoples inner psyche. It is a confession. The scenes depict the brothers engaging in what appears to be innocent activities (cleaning a classic Rolls Royce, smoking a cigarette, performing a healing treatment), though there is obvious tension in the plot. Like Godfather I the movie, the brothers are a first generation family in America where it’s not ‘business as usual’. In fact, all three brothers with their long, braided, jet-black hair don’t even look like the usual suspects. They duel with struggles of light and dark in ways and means customary in the ‘old country’. Overt references to ‘battle’, ‘enemies’, ‘sacrifice’, and ‘death’ run cold through Skitzofrenics verses. All the while, I Be M, who actually holds an M.S. degree in Oriental Medicine, operates on a complacent and unsuspecting patient. This is the clue that there is something more than what is seemingly present on the surface. There’s hope. There’s a surreal sense that ‘light’ persists even in the midst of absolute darkness. Dare I say, light exists because of absolute darkness.

Do the scenes in the video ultimately infer murder, i.e. ‘Premeditated Murder’ like the song title suggests? Or is the subject being released in a ritualistic manner by way of shamanic exorcism? Perhaps the answer lies somewhere in the details. In pursuit of the very answer to these questions we are privy to the ‘Invisible’ in The Invisible People. What we find is a subtle proclamation, an acceptance, of something hidden and sacred, something tangible to our psyche, yet ‘Invisible’ to the world. Yes, the video is dark. But somehow the brothers find redemption in what appears to be signs of life and light. An image of a ‘Crow’, a Phoenix-like metaphor, rises out of flames and is a symbol of death and resurrection, a spirit being released. Fire is sacred and is present in every South Asian ceremony. It is a symbol of purification. The scenes take an eerie turn becoming all the more haunting while juxtaposed to a soft and feminine voice singing “churaliya hay tumne jo dil ko, nazar nahi churana sanam” (you’ve stolen my heart, don’t steal my sight (perception ‘of truth’) my beloved”. This is the final log in the funeral pyre if you will. The job is done. The crow takes to the sky.

William Faulkner once said that ‘the past is never dead, it’s not even past”. The Invisible People know this well. They knowingly toy with the idea. There is only life after life. The video features handpicked props and sets that set the stage for the past to come alive. Everything from the early 1900’s style architecture of the featured home, a classic Rolls Royce (The vehicle registration still reads Harrah’s No. 8 and is a car that was reserved for the legendary Rat Pack in Las Vegas by Harrahs Hotel & Casino), ruins of the Humming Bird temples of Tzin, Tzun, Tzan, and the ancient healing art of acupuncture are indicative of and an homage to the old. According to Mr. Sandmantis, who Minored in Anthropology at California State University Northridge, and who makes pilgrimages to sacred sites throughout the world regularly, “the past isn’t just relevant to us…it’s alive. So as long as we have a connection to and a memory of our living past we have a backbone to stand on”. Oh yes, you do hear the passion of Public Enemies’ “It Takes A Nation of Millions…” loud and clear from The Invisible People. Bravo.

The song, “Premeditated Murder: Meditated Upon” is an example of what Bruce Lee referred to as ‘Broken Rhythm’. Although the song has a distinct pattern, it lacks traditional organization in a sense of a single catchy hook repeated over and over again. Somehow the risqué maneuver works. It’s meant to be listened to, to draw you in. If the lyrics don’t get you, the deep Led Zep-ish groove in “When the Levy Breaks” will. Like many Classic Rock recordings, The Invisible People chose to allow the track to evolve naturally, to let its composition reflect the journey it was meant to take a listener on, instead of forcing it to fit tightly into a predictable ‘air-play’ model. With freedom at hand Skitzofrenic cut his calibrated rhymes in one take. I Be M and Mr. Sandmantis recite animal fighting styles that touch upon their psycho-spiritual persona. The song also features a funky scratch solo by the incredible DJ Spin-vincible. The song and the video reflect each other’s complexity and finesse. At last, the stakes are raised. A cult classic is born. All hail to independent labels that innovate and compel with their hard fought independence.

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Victor D. Patel

I was especially impressed by the song "Blood Brothers" by Karmacy. The music video clip for this song was very moving and inspiring. The lyrics depicted a very realistic perspective about westernization. Karmacy has my support. I applaud their efforts and look forward to future developments in Gujarati Hip Hop. www.victorslink.com

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