Banyen Roots
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Banyen Roots


Band Hip Hop World


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"The F Word, Nadia Chaney, Empowerment, and the School of Rock!"

...and Tonight I got a chance to phone interview Nadia Chaney, one of the Vancouver female emcees that I will incorporate into my paper/presentation. Nadia is a Vancouver based artist, social activist, poet, emcee of BPM, and cofounder of a hiphop-empowerment initiative for kids named Metaphor. We talked about her inspirations, her beginnings, her past tours and the connections she'd made with local Vancouver emcees, her aspirations for herself and for Vancouver, etc. One idea she gave that i thought was genius was for their to be more accessibility for youth and the general public to recording studios so that there is an inclusive dialogue amongst a wider range of people.

So I found a youtube video that gives a glimpse of what "Metaphor" the hip hop empowerment program for kids is about and it made me smile for sure and gave me so much energy cos i know from working with kids as an art teacher how it's like to be amongst children as there's this overflowing reciprocity where you're feeding them energy and they fuel you right back. Check out this dope vid below:
- obey the flow

"BPM (Banyen Roots) EP Release"

BPM CD Release!!

After three years of local performances, BPM (Rupinder Sidhu, Tarun Nayar and Nadia Chaney) are ready to release their long-awaited five track EP.

To all the beautiful people who harassed and cajoled, thank you!

This one’s for you.

Please join us to celebrate, instigate, and devastate at

OPEN STUDIOS on SEPT 26, 2008.

#200 - 252 E. 1st Ave, Vancouver BC

We’re on at MIDNIGHT.

This event is part of the illustrious New Forms Festival.

BPM (Bass Poetry Music) is a dirty fusion of hip hop, bhangra and dancehall.

“Banyan Roots, they dig deep down. Sounds of the underground; bound to the rhythm, bounce to this vision. Indian origins, organic instrumentalists, beat scientists…”

Tarun Nayar of “Delhi to Dublin” and “Beats without Borders” juggles beats on turntables and palpitates rhythms on tabla.

He has a rep for making the crowd need to step.

Nadia Chaney scales tall lyrics in a cynical bound, wrapping words like bondage.

She brings the boisterous, magnetic combination of MC, poet and cultural activist.

Rupinder Sidhu illuminates the stage with his combustible presence, hype verbal currency, and fly jet engines.

He is BPM’s primary beatsmith, ruckus producer and magic coordinator.

This trio brings a fierce global perspective both to the music and the message.

… - Citizen Shift

"Thriving in Rhyme: The Spiritual Side of Hip Hop"

Like most people over 35 I find a lot of hip-hop music remarkably annoying -- jarring and frantic, performed by macho, foul-mouthed men and gyrating, mostly-naked women a.k.a. "babies."

The recurring images of drugs, weapons and gang paraphrenalia are so aggressive and the dancing so over-sexualized it elicits in me a mixture of outrage and pity.

But Nadia Chaney, a Vancouver poet/performer working with groups such as Metaphor, BPM and Hip Hop Hope, lives and thrives in a much different universe of hip hop -- for her a decidedly spiritual one.

Raised in Canada by a Muslim father and Catholic mother, Chaney is careful not to demonize the heavyweights of the hip-hop music industry, such as 50 Cent, Jay-Z, Tupac Shakur and Ja Rule. She even likes some of their stuff.

But Chaney, a brainy and well-read 29-year-old, makes it clear such commercial artists make up just one segment of the global hip-hop movement; the rest of it, perhaps the best of it, mostly flies under the media radar, giving voice to the voiceless, creating meaning in often-hard places.

"The majority of hip hop happens on the ground"-- in the planet's gritty metropolises, Chaney says over breakfast in a Fraser Street cafe. "The majority of hip hop is not paid for by the music industry."

Hip hop may be the world's most popular musical genre today, a multi-ethnic phenomenon that is huge not only in North America and Europe but in dozens of Third World countries, where it's often seized upon as vehicle of resistance.

To Chaney, the musical genre begins with rhythm.

Then comes rhyme.

And out of those two elements emerges the spirituality of hip hop.

"Hip hop is prayer. Hip hop is a trance. Divine things rhyme," Chaney smiles.

For almost five years Chaney's group, Metaphor, has lead roughly 50 hip-hop workshops in B.C. youth detention centres -- where she says the bored teens often respond passionately to the chance to make their own hip-hop poetry.

Metaphor is currently on course to lead similar sessions in 101 B.C. schools. Chaney adapts the forms of hip hop, such as rapping, rhyme and emceeing, to lure teenagers into spontaneous, spiritual expression.

A voracious reader who devours everything from The Economist to Democracy Now, Chaney rounds out her hip-hop schedule by contributing to scholarly dialogues on global culture and social transformation.

With hip hop's mass appeal, many Christian, and some Muslim and Jewish groups, are also experimenting these days with bringing hip hop into their sanctuaries.

But Chaney's approach to hip hop is much more free form than the way it's being packaged by many U.S. churches, especially evangelical ones, to appeal to inner city youth.

She firmly believes hip hop is a vehicle for self-expression, social criticism and creating sacred community.

And it doesn't take much to get her riffing on the metaphysics of hip hop.

"Rhyme is an ancient technique that pulls out the deeper meaning of words. Why does 'purse' rhyme with 'curse?' Hip-hop poetry creates a discipline without a dogma," she says.

Chaney, who has lived, worked and performed in Vancouver since she was 18, believes hip hop is a combination of sacred rhythm, meaning, breathing, truth-telling and empowerment.

Because her dad (a dentist who became a sculptor) was Muslim and her mother (who works for the federal government) a Catholic, they had to leave India to get (inter-) married.

In Canada, Chaney attended an Anglican high school in Ottawa that held Christian chapel four times a week. She earned a black belt in the Asian martial art of tae kwon do.

She learned at a young age to be "syncretistic," to discern the common threads running through diverse religions and spiritual disciplines.

She still reads the scriptures of several religions, and suspects the same is true of most hip-hop artists, who come from every ethnicity.

Inspired by the rythyms heard on Jamaican streets, hip hop first rose into social-political prominence decades ago in New York's Bronx, manifesting itself in breakdancing, rap, freestyle, MCing and beatboxing (not to mention grafitti.)

There are now vast hip-hop scenes stretching from Germany to South Africa, India to Cuba. To Chaney, hip hop performs the sacred role of giving a voice (and rhythm) to the marginalized -- especially youth.

I've seen Chaney -- part poet, animator and public intellectual -- do her hip-hop thing at events linked to Simon Fraser University's Wosk Centre for Dialogue.

Barely able to contain her body's yearning to bob and weave, she'll suddenly recite hip-hop poetry or begin leading an audience in finger-snapping, hand-clapping rhyme games, designed to trick participants into inspired word play.

"Hip hop comes from inside the body. It has to be grounded in sacred breath," she says.

"It's a celebration of life in dark times, which is a spiritual act. Hip hop shows we have hope. It speaks the truth. It says: 'I'm still here and alive, no matter if the ocean is dying.'

"Hip hop is like tae kwon do. It takes you inward into self-knowledge. It takes discipline, strength and courage."

It will sound sacriligous to some, but to Chaney the rhythm and rhyme of hip hop go a long way to affirm for each person who is captured by its spirit that, as she says: "God and I are one."

Rather than denouncing the fear-mongering and titillation that runs through much commercial hip-hop music, Chaney would rather focus on the multi-ethnic artists she admires.

They include Kanye West, Native Guns, Immortal Technique, Seattle's Blue Scholars and Vancouver's Kia Kadir -- not to mention her own hip hop colleagues, Rupinder (sunskript) Sadhu, Tarun (teaspoon) Nayar, sara kendall and Mike Sheehan.

To illustrate the power hip-hop poetry has to foster healing, Chaney talks about the kind of hip hop that has a competitive edge -- with rappers "sparring with each other to make each other stronger," to push each other to be more creative.

She mentions a legend, possibly apocryphal, that runs through the hip-hop world.

The story goes that in times of conflict in ancient days the top poets of tribal groups would meet with opposing military leaders to explain, in rhyme, why their side felt it necessary to go to war.

The confrontations would often go no further than the exchange in poetic rhyme of honest anger and grievance. War would be avoided.

To Chaney, the legend relates to the power of hip hop. "It's a miraculous thing," she says. "Hip hop can test another, but it's never violent. It gives you a foundation for understanding."

Hip hop, Chaney says, can break down barriers and bring people together. "It creates a spiritual community -- with no dogma, no teachers and no book. It makes people love each other." - Vancouver Sun





Banyen Roots perform both as a duo (Rup and Nadia) or as a trio (Rup, Nadia and Tarun). As first generation Indo-Canadians with mixed masala roots, influences, and mentors, this triple-threat each bring very different assets to the music.

Rupinder Singh Sidhu (aka. Sunskript, aka Rupix Kube) is a dark anomaly wandering the generic wastelands of hip hop, expressing soul philosophy with a mystical edge; he provides a live experience that leaves audiences in an inter-dimensional frenzy. Rupinder’s musical palate encompasses hip hop poetics, electronika, flute, didgeridoo, live looping, along with vocal and eastern percussion. Alongside his love of rhythm and rhyme, Rupinder is a music producer and composer of many genres. As a multi-instrumentalist; he plays with the projects Broken Parts, Nucleus, Damage Control, and Satya. He has shared the stage with Chebb I Sabbah, Michael Franti, K-OS, and Tanya Tagaq Gillis to name a few. Rupinder is also a community art’s facilitator, he has delivered hundreds of workshops in universities, schools and alternative educational facilities. He co-founded a program which brings hip hop and life skills education into detention centres and remote communities called Metaphor, he also is an assistant in the percussion department at the Sarah McLachlan Music Outreach, a free music school for inner city youth.

Nadia Chaney is a poet-philosopher, sometimes known as the "chocolate gnostic with a passion for cosmic gossip." With a multi-faceted formal education in the humanities, a deep-seated rage against the system, and an uncontrollable urge to rock microphones, she brings a positive, complex and unforgiving flavour to Banyen Roots' lyrical edge. As a lyricist and freestyler she has worked with numerous musical groups in Vancouver, and often brings her words and images to the interdisciplinary worlds of installation art, animation and street/people's theatre. Her community arts facilitation focuses on issues of identity, communication, participatory process and non-violence. Her workshops have reached many communities, from Haida Gwaii, BC, to Johannesburg, South Africa, to Bangalore, India. She was named one of BC’s 100 most influential Indo-Canadians in 2008.

Tarun Nayar is a hybrid, a meeting point between east and west; a cross-cultural (con)fusion. He is a classically trained tabla player, a DJ, and a producer, obsessed with fusing tradtional asian sounds with wikked electronic beats. He performs globally, trains in Mumbai, and represents the Canadian massive in Vancouver. As a producer, Tarun creates South Asian influenced sonic landscapes
and uptempo asian beats and breaks. As a DJ, 'Tspoon' mashes funk, hip-hop, dancehall and bhangra into a bouncy, juicy dancefloor madness. As a tabla player, Tarun trains classically in the Punjab school, and represents in both traditional and electronic situations.
Tarun is currently performing with 3 projects; global music DJ collective Beats Without Borders; crazy celtic punjabi live
electronic act Delhi2Dublin; and bhangra/ grime/ hip-hop trio BPM.