In an industry popular for its typical latka and jhatka beats and soulful romantic numbers, rapper Yo Yo Honey Singh’s unique, high on energy tracks came as a refreshing change for youngsters. Most of them believe that they can connect to the chilled-out vibe and fast paced rhythm of his songs. Although he made his debut with a single in 2006 along with a few other artists like Ashok Masti, Singh went on to pursue a course in music from the Trinity school of music in London. “I thought it was an important move as an artist, since learning is always an added advantage,” quipped Singh. It was only in 2011 that he got noticed for his album International Villager and the song Angrezi beat became a rage. The song was later used in the film Cocktail, but little did Singh know that his association with Bollywood would only deepen in the years to come.
From rapping with Akshay Kumar in Khiladi 786 and Boss to shaking a leg with Shah Rukh Khan in Lungi dance from Chennai Express and Amitabh Bachchan in Bhoothnath Returns, the singer has done it all. Singh has now become the highest paid artist in Bollywood, charging anywhere between Rs. 70 to 75 lakhs for an entire package of singing, composing and writing a song. “And then, there are times when I make an appearance in the video too. It is so much fun. I remember, my mother was very excited when she heard that I will be dancing with Shah Rukh Khan in Lungi dance. She is a big fan of the actor, so I requested Khan bhai to speak to her over the phone. Then, another dream came true in the form of my upcoming promotional song video with Bachchan sir. My dad is a khatarnaak fan of him. From one proud moment to another, I am definitely living my dream. Maa sherawali ka haath hain mujhpar, bas,” mentioned Singh.
Talking about special moments, Singh has encountered one too many, because of his global fan base. There are various budding singers who sing covers of his tracks and upload it on YouTube. Ask him about it and the singer smiles. “It’s sweet when you see people appreciating your work. I remember, when we were shooting for this song called Bebo di yaan gallan in London, a fan named Nesdi Jones came to meet me all the way from Wales. She used to play the piano in a hotel and someone told me that she has done a cover of my song, Brown rang. I was touched and that’s when I got to know that she has become a YouTube sensation by singing my songs,” he stated. It’s only later that the singer got to know that Jones is a trained vocalist and musician. The duo, along with artist Money Aujla, went on to collaborate on a track titled London. It became a huge hit, even topping the BBC Asian network music charts. Singh adds, “She is now known as The Desi Gori and has more than 25,000 fans on Facebook. Punjab aur Chandigarh main toh bahut famous hain woh. It feels good when such collaborations work out so well for a budding artist.”
Although Lungi dance went on to become a big hit, the artist is not very happy with the fact that it did not get international recognition. “I really wanted Lungi dance to become bigger than Psy’s Gangnam Style. I thought it had the potential to become a bigger global hit. I don’t know what went wrong,” said Singh. He believes that it is high time that the global music industry takes notice of the ever changing music scene in India. Singh adds, “People abroad continue to associate our music with sitar, tabla and typical shaadi waala naach gaana. It’s like they can’t think we can be urbane as well. I want to create a song that proves it to them that yes, we can create unique compositions and we are not all about Bollywood. I am just waiting to release that one insane track, which will create history some day.”
The singer confessed that even if he is pre-occupied with a line up of Bollywood projects, he wants to focus on his singles and the non-film music genre as well. Despite several projects coming his way everyday, the singer is keen on doing more work, even if it means working round-the-clock. “Many people told me that with regular appearances, my work may get over-exposed. But I want to use my fame to bring out all my compositions. Like the tune of my upcoming track in Fugly titled, Yeh Fugly kya hain, was actually created five years back. Right now, I have almost 100 different compositions ready, but they don’t fit into any film. For instance, my song Blue eyes will not fit into any film’s flow. Although I had big hits like Party all night and Lungi dance, there was no need for me to go all out and shoot a video at my own expense. But I can picturise my songs only with me in it. What I write is part of my own observation. They are things that common people relate to and what I see around me,” stated Singh.
Now that he has shot for some music videos for films, the singer will soon leave for South Africa, where he will shoot four of his upcoming singles next month. Come June, Singh will also be seen making his Hindi film debut as an actor in a negative role in director Anant Mahadevan’s The Xpose. Ask about donning different hats and Singh promptly informs that music will always remain his first love. “Music toh saath nahi chodega. It is my bread and butter. I’ll be busy performing at various events, creating tracks and working on my singles throughout the year. I have already finished shooting for The Xpose in January. Surprise karna meri aadat hain, so people, better watch out for my awesome mix of work this year,” signs off Singh.