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Publication: Touch, 2004

Heeeere’s Juggy!

Juggy D is the new face of Anglo-Asian Britain.

Don’t talk to Juggy ‘Jagwinder Dhaliwal’ D about pressure from the streets, from the people and from gyal. And definitely don’t talk to Juggy D about arranged marriages.

‘Offers…,’ the 23-year-old gulps through a mouthful of Lamb karahi in his cousin’s Southall pub. ‘Yeah, I get the odd marriage proposal. One woman came up to me at a mela we played and says, “can I have your number - for my daughter?” I’m like, look er, I don’t really give out my number…’

And you can hardly blame either of them. Because Juggy D – dancefloor desi sensation, Panjabi pin-up, star of street, TV, club and pub – is on a roll that begins down Southall Broadway and is likely to end up at the top of the charts, with garlands round his Adidas tracksuit. The local hero you can watch on Channel U and then bump into in the only UK boozer where they accept Rupees, Juggy D is The Southall Effect incarnate: the walking, chatting, grinning personification of Britain’s generational suburban blur. R&B, desi, bhangra, hip hop and just about anything else you’re likely to hear on Sunrise Radio, Kiss FM or Channel U fuse between the grooves of his eponymous new album. His pal Jay ‘Got My Eyes On You’ Sean might pull off the Anglo-Indian Usher routine better, and his producer Rishi Rich should soon be knighted as the UK Dre of ‘Bhangsta rap’, but for uncut street cool, Juggy wins hands down.

Look: today we roll several hundred yards from lunch at Southall’s Glassy Junction pub and round a few shops. People literally scream his name from passing Clios. He waves a cool reply. Knots of geezers in Ecko, Shox and turbans fall back and nod their respect. Shopkeepers are all smiles as we enter. And roughly five billion girls per paving stone hassle Juggy unsuccessfully for his digits.

‘We’ve created a bit of a stir,’ Juggy observes, a new milestone in the history of understatement . ‘People follow us around now… it’s a bit mad! Within the Asian community there hasn’t been many young street artists. Most Bhangra and desi artists look like our uncles. So a lot of the younger generation are into the fact that they can go out and look at young guys that are like themselves and enjoy the music.’

Juggy D’s first stage appearance was at school, aged 13, in a talent competition judged by a man from Eighties Bhangra pioneers Allap. It goes without saying Juggy won. He later got an A in Drama, B in Expressive arts, and C in everything else - and it shows. He then completed a HND at South Bank in ‘computer something’ and, judging the academia wasn’t for him, jacked it all in and… set up a kebab stall. In Stevenage?

‘I saw the opportunity… I just had to do it.’

Even though that didn’t work out, and nor did three jobs in sales and a go at the rag trade, it’s characteristic of the garrulous energy he now pours in to music. Two years ago he met the diminutive Rishi Rich, whose size inversely expresses his production talents and musical vision, and hitched his vocal talents onto the Rishi Rich Project, a vinyl Orient Express right into the heartland of the Western hip hop/R&B mainstream. Remixes for Mark J Blige (‘Love At 1st Sight’), Missy Elliot (‘Cop That $hit’) and Craig David (‘Spanish’ and ‘Rise & Fall’) followed. He even taught CD to speak Punjabi, ‘all the swear words, obviously,’ Juggy recalls. ‘The first thing Craig David said when he came in to the studio was, “where’re all the Asian birds then? Your Asian women are wicked man. They’re well tasty.’

Proper Bo! indeed. But CD’s enthusiasm for the Asian overground only points to a far broader fascination with the ancient sounds of the Punjabi, as filtered through Protools. He, Rishi and Jay recently took none other than Timbaland shopping in Southall, where the superproducer shelled out a mere £3,000 on desi CDs. But ‘Juggy D’ is really where the ancient-modern, east-west axis really gets down with the programme: Streetsian insight rubs up with Punjabi singing, spiritual desi ragas merge into heavy beats straight form the bowels of the 808. And Girls up and down the UK’s desi circuit duly get wet at the gusset.

‘We’re kind more of aimed at the Sharons and Traceys, you could say that, Juggy tells me. ‘We try to make it more appealing to non-Asians. Punjabi music has been around for years, but it took Dre and Timbaland to use influences before it became cool. That gave us the opportunity to say, “we’ve been doing this for years’. Hence a number 12 last year, a crossover Punjabi/R&B track. And people loved it.’

With roots like his, Juggy could almost be 5,000 years old – yet supremely of-the-present as it’s possible to be. He was brought up to speak Punjabi at home till the age of sixteen, and his favourite singer happens to someone whose tunes you’re unlikely to have heard of Rinse FM: Gurdas Mann, a patriarch of Punjabi music whose portrait hangs next to the door in Glassy Junction. Juggy knocks back pints on a Friday, and studies the arcana of classical Indian singing that stretch back millennia. In which respect, he is a unique personification of the kind of cultural synergy the UK excels at.

‘I’m from the UK,’ he says. ‘I’m a British-born Asian. I’m proud to be British, I’ve been taught about my own culture, but I eat fish & chips and go down the boozer with my mates and get mashed up. The best compliment I’ve ever heard is when people come up and say, you’re making us proud to be Asians.

‘When we did Top Of The pops it was unbelievable,’ he goes on. ‘I looked across the stage there was Pink. It would never have imagined it: singing in Punjabi and being applauded by Pink who’s waiting to come on.’

Yet even that pales into insignificance against last year’s triumph – performing with the Rishi Rich project for an Asian TV audience of 160 million at MTV’s Immies award in India. ‘It’s working over there and it’s dripping in slowly, but it’s gonna take a while. Punjabi is very traditional. But it’s banging hard in the metro cities over there, which are locked into the UK Asian scene. We played Bombay, and it was unbelievable.’

We walk further down Southall Broadway. In the shops windows, passing car stereos and among the footwear choices of everyone we pass, you see, hear and feel east going west, and west going east. As for Juggy, he hangs about and smiles. He knows everyone’s getting jiggy with it.

© Kevin Braddock, 2004


All content ©2004 Kevin Braddock

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