How did an Elk Grove teenager grow up to become the King of Punjabi Rap? The Punjabi bohemian rhapsody rap song star orders the lamb masala. Conversation has turned from the rabid fandom of Mumbai street kids to the demands of globe-trotting Pakistani singers. Fingers and forks dig into savory food between anecdotes. The air around the table is scented with curry. The restaurant is Monsoon, a new establishment at 16th and K. The rapper is Bohemia, otherwise known as the King of Punjabi Rap, and Sacramento is where he launched his career.
It’s late afternoon in mid-December, and Bohemia is discussing his new album, which is due for release this March. He’s digging deep into his personal and professional history: emigrating to Northern California while still in his mid-teens, within years finding himself playing backup at Arco Arena for visiting South Asian superstars, finding popularity on the BBC, being signed by Universal Music Group and, most recently, writing music for Bollywood movies. While his adopted name is far from a household one in his adopted country of the United States, Bohemia’s Facebook page evidences a booming global fan base. As of January, he has topped 420,000 fans. For comparison, that’s fast approaching the level of chart-topping rapper Missy Elliott, and surpassing that of Sacramento indie-rock luminaries Cake.
It’s been quite an odyssey, and Bohemia wears each of his 32 years in his dark eyes. He’s clad in black from head to toe: thin collarless jacket, dark jeans, beard cropped tight, the whole self-presentation topped off with a black beanie. When he makes an occasional comment in Punjabi, his voice gets heavier and more lyrical. Born Roger David in Karachi, Pakistan, in 1979, he came with his family to the United States at age 14. For a while, though, his life didn’t require a passport. When Bohemia dropped out of high school, he benefited from the generosity and couches of friends and extended family, and within a year, he ended up in the capital city. He was drawn here by an assortment of veteran Sacramento musicians he had met in the Bay Area. Together they played at cultural and religious events, with Bohemia on keyboard, mostly at rented halls that served as temporary temples.
So that’s where we came in. Sacramento musicians of varied South Asian backgrounds who circulated around a garage studio near Cosumnes River College. Playing keyboards led him to experiment with fledgling electronic equipment: beat machines and sequencers. He’d show his bandmates how to use recorded loops to enrich their music. They were amazed at his skills, but their praise only reinforced for Bohemia how different he felt from them. And as the 20th century became the 21st, Bohemia again suffered significant loss: the bandmate with whom he was closest, Suresh Mangoli. They found a body tortured, gun shots, everything. Dental records from India helped identify him.
The film lacks an original underscore, queen’s most successful song in the United Kingdom. Bohemian Rhapsody’ Producer Confirms Bryan Singer’s Reason for Leaving, 500 Greatest Songs of All Time» list. Reaching number one on eight occasions, which is a first for a Hollywood film. While Featherstone and others did think that «Bohemian Rhapsody» was too long to be released as a single — he records his 1984 album Mr. Excepto John Deacon que decidió no que quería cantar.
In an unrelated incident, another bandmate did time in Soledad, and was then deported to India. With Suresh gone, Bohemia played additional Sacramento-area shows, including at Arco Arena, and in 2001 tried to move back with his family in San Francisco, but the old wounds hadn’t healed. He landed with a cousin in Pinole, and after briefly considering dropping music entirely, he returned to his beatmaking. I started making beats, gangsta style. Rapping in Punjabi was certainly an untrammeled path. He’d written poetry since age 10, but the enunciation, the phrasing, was fully new.
For some time I would spit everywhere. His chest was so swollen from exertion that he was encouraged to visit the hospital. Sacramento, ended up with a DJ on BBC Radio, where a song soon became among the top 10 most requested. Bollywood, the prolific movie-making industry of India that is predominantly driven by feature-length musicals. Bohemia has a new album essentially completed, and he’s sorting release options. These include two Bay Area figures: the Jacka and Baby Bash.
The latter has recorded with T-Pain and Jennifer Lopez. Bohemia’s extended family today is spread around Northern California. He enjoys the ability to remove his trademark beanie and sit at a Walnut Creek Starbucks, invisible amid the dense Pakistani and Indian population. He still visits Sacramento to meet up with musicians he once lived among. He accomplished his goal, but he did so alone.
A little over a decade ago he was a runaway teenager benefiting from the kindness of Sacramento musicians. Now he’s back here to talk about his forthcoming album while his ground team in India tends to business. The conflict between abandonment and success is palpable. He arrived in Sacramento as a lost kid, and he left a trained musician. That Elk Grove garage studio was, for four years, his conservatory. It’s where he was schooled in ragas and raginis, foundations of Indian classical music. And it’s where he realized that Indian music on its own wasn’t enough for him. Marc Weidenbaum was a senior editor at Tower Records’ Pulse!
Did you like what you read here? Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango? Easy come, easy go, will you let me go? No, we will not let you go! We will not let you go! Never never never never let me go! So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye? So you think you can love me and leave me to die? Queen — A Night At The Opera Album Lyrics1. Make sure your selection starts and ends within the same node.