By Palzor Machungpa
Gangtok, 12 April:
One meme said the best, “Punjab has Honey Singh, Mumbai has Divine, Bhopal has Dino James and Sikkim has UNB”.
UNB, short for Ugen Namgyal Bhutia has always been intent on making statements and bringing forth various issues of our society through his songs. By showcasing the social scenarios and his personal confessionals UNB rides high with his relatable song-writing and that soothing yet attention-seeking voice. With his new Extended Play, “Made in India” the multi-lingual rapper simply does what he does best, ‘speak his mind’.
Opening the EP is the one-minute long ‘Intro’ where he talks about the importance of Nepali community in the country saying that the Nepali language is one of the 22 languages recognized and encouraged by the Constitution of India. He goes on to explain that the album is a small effort from his side to shine the light on the importance and existence of the Northeast India as an integral part of the country.
In his second track titled, “Hum Bhi Kya Kam Hain”, Ugen raps about his struggles as a North-eastern musician following his dreams in the capital of the country. Musicians especially rappers have time and again explored the plight of being a Northeastern in India but UNB blends the struggle of a Northeastern trying to make it big with the important aspects of being a Northeastern and planting the message of patriotism at the forefront.
I read somewhere that in hip-hop, the personal is always political. The rapper is no stranger when it comes to showcasing his Northeastern-ness in his songs. Songs like ‘Call Me Indian’, ‘Jai Jai Khukuri’ which showcases his political frustrations are his best. In a year as tumultuous as 2020, UNB brings out the sonic uprising amidst the worldwide backdrop of coronavirus pandemic, racial discrimination and the systemic abuse of the majority over the minority that hits close to home. Tracks like ‘Made In China Nai’, ‘Dhoti’ does that and displays the rapper’s say in racial identities.
The remaining songs ‘On Point’, ‘Namastey’ and ‘Jal Barsey’ reveals the other side of the rapper as he sings about the haters and how he tries to make his underrated career work by focusing on what he does and not really indulging in the feuds.
Produced by the Egyptian music-producer, Fiftyanobeats the sound of the EP reflects the depth, strength and personal growth of the rapper. As always the strength of the album lies in the rapper’s deep appreciation for his family, the passion for his music and the love and respect for his community.
UNB has always been talking about his birthplace [Sikkim] in almost every song he puts out. He takes the listeners into the busy and vehicle-packed roads of Jamtok [sorry, Gangtok]. He has documented the specificity of his generation in the track ‘Badam Ko Lagi’ where he literally sings the nostalgic tune of the game.
UNB makes music to acknowledge the identity of Nepali speaking people in the country. He sings about breaking the societal norms and follow one’s passion. He sings about Sikkim, our home and its people and it is high time we listen attentively to this young and talented musician because gems like him need to be protected.
For more information about UNB, subscribe his YouTube channel ‘Kauso Entertainment’ or follow him on Facebook, Instagram and other social media handles.
His new EP ‘Made In India’ is available in all streaming formats across Spotify, iTunes and YouTube.