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Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2013
Solo Hip Hop World




"How B.C. rapper Horsepowar channelled her grief into a hip-hop career"

Rhymes, beats, Bollywood movies and the resolution to turn her grief into joy are just some of the ingredients of BC rapper Horsepowar's sound.

Horsepowar, a.k.a. Jasleen Powar, experienced serious loss at a young age. After a long period of mourning and reflection, she began expressing herself by writing music and lyrics. And what ultimately resulted is a sound that has a quality you may have never heard of in hip-hop before.

In this short documentary, you'll understand why Horsepowar's journey from sad poetry to joyous rap is an extraordinarily inspiring one.

Follow Horsepowar on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and stay tuned for some live dates in both Canada and the US. Watch Exhibitionists Sundays at 4:30pm (5 NT) on CBC. - Lise Hosein (CBC Arts)

"Coming Straight Outta Richmond, Horsepowar Aims To Win The Rap Race"

You may not have heard of Horsepowar. Yet. But the May 26 issue of GQ India named the Richmond, B.C., MC one of the “Indian rappers to have on your playlist” in a story about the global hip hop diaspora.

Her killer videos for tracks such as Queen and Hi Everybody showcase an artist with keen flow, lyrical sharpness and a very professional image. OUT2Lunch is her latest mixtape.

“The rap game, it’s pretty cool and I like that this is the career path that I’m on,” said Horsepowar (a.k.a. Jasleen Powar). “I’m taking it pretty seriously, honestly. I’m not sure what else I could do.”

Her older siblings provided a steady diet of classic era tunes such as Sir Mix-A-Lot’s hit ode to posteriors Baby Got Back, and Too Short, Ice-T and others. At age 8, her mother was called to her school to discuss her singing Bone Thugs & Harmony songs in class. This was, apparently, “not cool.”

“By sixth grade I was writing poetry which was really s—t,” she said. “Things turned around when I saw an episode of Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam hosted by Mos Def, and decided that the cadence of it was so much like hip hop and that rhyme or flow that I should make that the Horsepowar style.”

Taking to the stage at the local training ground of Commercial Drive’s Cafe Deux Soleils Monday night spoken-word open mic, she gained the confidence to be as “weird as I wanted to be.” As time passed, she grew into a confident poet and made the VanSlam Youth Team.

“I was the little brown girl punk rock badass raging against the duality of trying to be Canadian and also keeping to my parents’ strict cultural values, too,” she said. “Then I headed to UVic and left spoken word and pursued my theatre major. It was awesome, fun and a total bummer, because I really hate school.”

Graduating this month, she has now set her sights 100 per cent on music. She also admits to knowing how to get serious mileage from family connections and friends. The shoot for the elaborate Queen video went down in her dad’s garden, rolling down River Road on top of her Fiat with her cousin driving, using her home girls as extras and so forth. Hi Everybody cuts in shot-in-India home video with local footage.

“I’m trying to hustle the game, surpass the budgets and get something out there looking way more than it is, and I’m managing,” said Horsepowar.

As a woman in hip hop she admits to having a serious crap detector because of how male-centric the scene is. Reading through the comment section on her videos can be disheartening after yet another assessment of looks rather raps. It really makes her temperature rise when she thinks of all the male rappers who slide by that.

“There are all these seriously ugly male rappers out there in these videos surrounded by all these beautiful women and I’m not buying in, as it really seems totally unfair that they aren’t held up to the same stupid standards female MCs are,” she said. “My first priority is to work with as many women, particularly women of colour, as I can to make my music. The girls out there are keeping it solid for each other.”

Her best asset appears to be the substance of her lyrics, chanting down stereotypes and the innovation in the beats, as well as a clearly strong sense of projecting herself out there. Horsepowar’s image adorns promo material for this year’s City Of Bhangra. - Stuart Derdeyn (The Province)

"Horsepowar’s “Hi Everybody” Got Right What Coldplay’s “Hymn For The Weekend” Got Wrong Oh, and it rocks, too"

Vancouver-based, Indian-Canadian singer horsepowar (aka Jasleen Powar) dropped a video for her thumping, crafty “Hi Everybody” last night. On top of being a banger of a song, the clip itself is thrilling and beautiful in its own way, and, perhaps, even important.

A tour of urban and rural India, “Hi Everybody” shows the rapper traipsing through the towns, running in the fields, and laughing with local children. One could be forgiven for seeing a Humanitarians of Tinder/White Savior Barbie thing going on here. That is until you know that “Hi Everybody” is a home movie, a document of a family trip to horsepowar’s ancestral India co-created by her and her family. This isn’t “voluntourism” or cultural browsing. Rather, it’s a fun, happy, over-the-shoulder look at a Western-raised, Western-influenced artist rediscovering an important side of herself.

As horsepowar said about the video:

In February I went to India and it was one hell of a rang dang doodle deux. Hindustan was a chaotic, emotional, and revitalizing journey for the soul, but it was so wild to be in a future that was also stuck in the past. This video is for the warm hearts that I met in India that showed me how blessed we are.

In this, “Hi Everybody” is pretty much the video that the controversial, criticized, and praised “Hymn for the Weekend” could have been. Though many in the Desi diaspora did enjoy it the clip, Coldplay seemed to fetishize the perceived “mystical” otherness of India—dangerous territory even though it’s a beautiful video. Horsepowar, on the other hand, not only enjoys the country for what it is but doesn’t try to present what it isn’t. Where Coldplay attempted to present a voyage to India’s heart that was ultimately a multimillion-dollar CGI-heavy fantasy, this no-budget, no-filter video is the real thing.

Also, as said, “Hi There” is a true banger. Enjoy. - Gabriel Bell (Nylon)

"Lil Debbie huffs and puffs and totally refuses to shut up in Vancouver"

Entirely deservedly, hands were in the air for opening act Horsepowar, who rocked the house from start to finish, offering shout-outs to Richmond and rapping about everything from brown-girl dating troubles to navigating the ferry schedule between Vancouver and Victoria. At the end of the set, the local MC excitedly gushed that she’d just given her first show ever. If you missed it, no worries—it won’t be her last. - Mike Usinger (The Georgia Straight)

"Heems at Fortune raw and unpredictable for worse"

The night started off promisingly with support from local acts Lil India and Horsepowar as well as Baltimore’s Spank Rock. Horsepowar brought enthusiasm and killer dance moves to the stage. The crowd was a little lackluster, but this did not dampen her spirit. She pumped everyone up with her fast-paced rap, along with shout-outs to her mom and home city of Richmond. Her set was raucous and full of sexual energy and bravado. Spank Rock amped things up even more with his frenetic dance-rap. It was disappointing when he peaced out after four songs, but at least he left the crowd wanting more. - Jessica O'Brien (Vancouver Weekly)


Her 2013 digital EP HORSEPOWARxHORSEPLAY was a raunchy four-song collection filled with thumping beats, squelchy synths, and comedically debauched lyrics delivered with brash, in-your-face flow. The songs touched on drugs (“Bill Murray Jane” is a euphemism for weed), fast food (“Mr. Rude Dude” imagines a tyrst between Burger King and Dairy Queen), vaginal bedazzling (the “tiara on my twat” from “Percs n Merkins”) and explicitly sexual revenge fantasies (“Pabst Smear” and its references to “chopping off dicks”), and found Powar acting as a shock-rap provocateur with a raunchy sense of humour.

On her latest EP, Bollywoes, the 23-year-old Horsepowar has found a topic even more revealing than descriptions of her genitals: her emotions. This new collection explores her real life, downplaying bawdy jokes in favour of forthright autobiography and Bollywood samples that reflect her upbringing in a Sikh-Canadian family in the Vancouver outskirt of Richmond, BC. “Bollywood is such a big part of my life,” the rapper explains. “I feel like a lot of brown girls dream, ‘I’m want to grow up and be a Bollywood actress.’ These are our brown-girl problems, my Bollywoes.” - Alex Hudson (Noisey Music- Vice)

"This Canadian Artist’s Rap Mashup With “Choli Ke Peeche” Will Give You Life"

Boss-ass Canadian rapper Jasleen Powar a.k.a. Horsepowar has just put out a new single called “Queen”. In the video, Powar and her squad flaunt their stuff like royalty, while the lyrics make a sickeningly good combo with the beat of “Choli Ke Peeche”. Get it, queen. - Imaan Sheikh (Buzzfeed)

"New Music: From Bengaluru Pop Rock to Canadian-Indian Rap This week, we round up the best new releases, including Mumbai alt rock band Modern Mafia, Delhi-based Hindi rock outfit The Local Train and Vancouver-based rapper Horsepowar"

It’s about time someone sampled or mashed up cult Bollywood songs like “Choli KePeeche Kya Hai” [from 1993’s Khalnayak] and threw a few rhymes over it. Vancouver-based rapper Jasleen Powar aka Horsepowar does exactly that, with help from producer Juelz for “Queen,” sounding a bit like Brit-Tamil rapper MIA. Check out Powar channeling her inner Bollywood dancer in the video for “Queen,” off her 2015 EP Bollywoes. - Anurag Tagat (Rolling Stone India)


You may remember Vancouver's Horsepowar for her Bollywood aspirations, but her newest video has her living out her modern days dreams as a "Queen." Directed by Joseph P.S. Klymkiw, the colourful video has Horsepowar rapping while sitting on top of a green Fiat and looking regal as fuck. She also accuses you of being soft as a ferret's tail, so prepare yourself before listening to the song. "Sitting lavish in Indian clothing while sipping chai with the homies," explained Horsepowar when asked what her favourite part of this video was. "I'm introducing people to my hometown of Richmond, but this is hip-hop beyond the block and with zero regard for borders." - Noisey - Vice

"Horsepowar continues her sonic evolution"

Not many 23-year-olds can say that they’ve hosted a radio show, been part of a slam-poetry team, starred in countless theatre productions, and released two EPs, but for one Richmond-born rapper with South Asian roots, these are just a few accolades on a performance-filled résumé that continues to grow.

My Favourite Thing: Horsepowar
Charismatic, upbeat, and poised to drop rhymes at any second, it might come as a surprise that Jasleen Powar, who goes by Horsepowar on stage, never planned to get into hip hop. It was the Bollywood enthusiast’s encounter at Café Deux Soleils’ youth poetry slam that first spurred her interest in the art of verse and balladry.

“I was too scared to get up there and read my stuff at first, but I started watching every chance I could,” says Powar on her cellphone from Victoria, where she’s finishing a degree in applied theatre at UVIC.

“I got to link up with a lot of cool people. They’d come up to me and say that I had a neat flow, and that it sounded like rap,” she said. “It wasn’t so foreign for me to rhyme and to vibe, but we weren’t allowed music so I guess I just did it my way.”

It wasn’t until Powar’s second year of university—in the thick of what she refers her “let’s fuck shit up” party stage—that she began experimenting with joke rap.

The first song she ever wrote, called “Dank Pu$$”, was produced by a friend who went by the name of Fascist. “It was a style he was down for, and it was super obnoxious and vulgar, but he was as invested as I was, so it was fun,” she remembers.

But much like an all-night college bender, it didn’t take long for the pleasantries to fade. “Joke rap only takes you so far,” says Powar.

“Saying shit to try and trip people up was fun, but it wasn’t really who I was,” she says, emphasizing that it wasn’t music she was proud of, especially because she wasn’t comfortable sharing it with her parents or young nieces and nephews.

“I needed to remove myself from that world, and ask what good music actually is and what it talks about,” says Powar.

Her latest release, a five-track EP titled Bollywoes, trades in tongue-in-cheek vulgarity for real-life experiences, chronicling the struggles a Desi girl living in suburbia. Loaded with samples from Powar’s favourite Bollywood movies, the EP starts off with the artist dropping verses at breakneck speed over a whistled tune on “”. It’s subtle, but a great way to ease listeners into a style that at times becomes much more aggressive. Take “Queen”, for example. Powar’s perfect blend of downright dirty hip-hop beats and flamboyant Bollywood samples will have you wondering whether you should be twerking or “installing light bulbs”.

Powar sticks to a mellow flow on “Hold Me Homies”, a coming-of-age track that drops references to her neighborhood in Richmond and the quirks that come with being the daughter of immigrant parents: “Us Desi girls trying to live this double life/parents came from the Ketha for a better life/all they wanted was for their culture to survive”.
Things really come alive on the EP’s last track, “Best Actress Award Goes to Rob Schneider”, as Powar rhymes about making it big over a hypnotizing blend of sitars and strings.

Of the EP, Powar says “It’s 110 percent me,” but she recognizes that she’s not the only one who can identify with the lyrics.

“My older family has this old way of thinking, and now you have these new age Indian kids who are trying to battle this hybrid life. It’s a struggle, because there are certain aspects of my culture that I’m not necessarily proud of,” she says.

“If I marry someone who’s not Punjabi, I’m not going to have that support. It’s not even just an Indian thing; I’m rapping about what a lot of girls who are children of immigrant parents are feeling.”

While she isn’t focused on pursuing a career in acting unless her Bollywood career takes off, her vision for Horsepowar is much bigger than just rap.

“I see myself as super big. I like interviewing, broadcasting, acting, fashion, and I want to create as many forms of art as I can under Horsepowar,” she says.

“I haven’t even gotten to where I want to sound and how I want to be perceived. I’m finding it and evolving, but I need to forget about views and likes and focus on the craft.”

While she hasn’t planned any shows for the near future, Powar plans to release another EP by the end of the year. - Amanda Siebert (Georgia Straight)

"Vancouver-based Rapper Horsepowar Explores Her Dark Side In "Spawn""

What started with slam poetry performances in high school quickly became horsepowar, a platform for Vancouver-born rapper Jasleen Powar to represent biting flows and Desi girl pride (a reference to her Sikh-South Asian heritage). Today, horsepowar premieres “Spawn,” produced by Toronto-based Francis Got Heat with additional vocals from Keerat Kaur. It’s darker and more ominous-sounding than her previous work, and the lyrics reflect that as well: Most likely I will go to hell/ most likely I deserve to be there.
The track is inspired by Todd McFarlane’s TV series Spawn, a household fixture amongst Powar and her brothers growing up. “The comic’s imagery, the storyline, and characters helped shape the direction I wanted to go with the track,” Powar wrote in an email to The FADER. As for her choice of collaborators, Keerat Kaur’s harmonies were a no-brainer. “She’s got a particular taste that is her signature, so I was blessed to have her grace this song and help me create something that was out of my comfort zone.”
“Spawn” is from horsepowar's seven track mixtape Out2Lunch, available soon. Stream the track below, and be sure to keep an eye out for the announcement of her SXSW show dates. - Braudie Blais-Billie (The Fader)

"GQ Preview: Horsepowar Meet Jasleen Powar, the Indo-Canadian rapper revving up her music career on the back of hiphop, Bolly mashups and some very raunchy lyrics"

Ask Jasleen Powar to introduce herself, and she says, “I’m Horsepowar, the best foosball player in the world.”

Listen to “Choose Your Own Adventure”, the first song off her latest EP OUT2LUNCH – and you’ll hear her intoning “They say the good die young/ and I’m a selfish motherfucker/ I’m going to live forever” on an RD Burman sample – and you realise this young lady basically converses in joke-rap.

The Vancouver-based theatre grad’s music is a potent cocktail of smart-alecy lines set to Bollywood samples. In “Queen”, a video that went viral last year, she’s demanding to know “What’s a king without his queen?!”, set to Khalnayak’s “Choli ke Peeche”. Basically, Powar is what you get when you allow an opinionated slam poet with a (dare we say, unhealthy) obsession with Nineties Bollywood to take the microphone.

Hi Jasleen, tell us about Out2Lunch.

Out2Lunch is a reflection of my last semester of university. It speaks on love, passion, and self-discovery. The name is a reference to how I often feel, caught up in another world, daydreaming. My first EP, HollywoodxHorsepowar, was like a burnt roti. My second, Bollywoes, you could begin to taste the flavor. But this third EP – bon appétit! I stay fed. I got beats in there that I really vibe with.

You’re properly tapped into this mashup scene. Can we call your music Bolly-rap?

My music is about creating a spectacle, like a Bollywood film, but I wouldn’t call it that. What I’m doing is Hip-Hop, one of the aesthetics of which is to take something that already exists and create something entirely new. I like to sample music that I am connected to, and Nineties Bollywood was a part of my upbringing.

Maybe it’s the nostalgia, or the fact that any one Hindi song sounds like 10 different melodies combined, or maybe, Anu Malik is one of the world’s most underrated producers’ of all time!

What does a crazy Horsepowar gig look like?

I played a gig in Toronto recently, with The Kominas. It was a one-woman show because my DJ couldn’t make it. Things got a little crazy, from dancing barefoot to Taal, painting my face like Alice Cooper, two-stepping to Bone Thugs N Harmony and joining forces with The Kominas to do our own rendition of “Choli Ke Peeche”. One of the best gigs I’ve done!

You should probably pack your bags and come try your luck in Bollywood, already.

It would be the ultimate dream to be a Bollywood star, and to be honest, it’s a tangible dream. I feel like I’m creating a rare genre between Bollywood, Hip-Hop and poetry, something I haven’t seen much of. One of my goals is to work with AR Rahman, but I do see myself acting as well.

#Careergoals alright. What did you want to be growing up?

The first career I wanted to have, from what I can remember, was to be a mailman. But that direction soon changed. My parents never really outlined what type of career I should have. Obviously, it would be great for them if I were a doctor, or a lawyer or a teacher. But trust me, when I buy my parents a mansion in Miami and spoil my mom with designer clothing, I’m sure they’ll be happy I decided to become a rapper.

Name your inspirations?

My brother Jason is the reason I got involved in theatre and his death was my catapult into poetry. I also really looked up to Nelly Furtado, MIA, and System of a Down. These days, I’ve been inspired by a bunch of fellow desi girls that the Internet has brought me to: like, Keerat Kaur, Maieli (both who is featured on OUT2LUNCH), Kay Ray, Hatecopy, Babbu The Painter. And then there’s also Tinashe and Taraji P Henson.

So you like Empire?

The show is corny but I love it. Every time I need advice, or guidance in life, I just think: What would Cookie Lyon do?

What’s the stupidest rap song/lyric you’ve ever heard?

“My bum is on your lips, my bum is on your lips, and if you don’t like it you can suck my dick”, by Tom Green. However, I am a huge Tom Green fan, and I love this song.

And what’s the dirtiest lines you’ve written?

Hah, wouldn’t you like to know.

So what’s next in life?

I’d like to see a Horsepowar cameo on an episode of The Simpsons. And I really need to face my fear of birds.

Catch Horsepowar live at Mad Decent Block Party, Delhi on February 20; and SXSW, Austin, Texas on March 16 - Nidhi Gupta (GQ India)

"Premiere: Horsepowar takes on the rap world with her latest EP Out2Lunch"

HipHopCanada: For those who aren’t familiar, how would you best describe your music?

Horsepowar: If Nelly Furtado, Larry David, Taraji P. Henson and Ducky (from Land Before Time) had a baby, it would be my music.

HipHopCanada: Your new EP Out2Lunch, features my personal favourite track and your first single “Spawn”, which has a hauntingly epic down-tempo beat. When you’re creating music or heading into the studio do you already have an idea of what you want a certain song to sound like?

Horsepowar: Yeah, there’s always a little guiding voice in my head that helps with the sound direction, but I’m never attached to the idea. I don’t ever want to be attached to a song, especially when it’s in the process of being made because new concepts/sounds/textures can heighten my track and change it in any direction. I like to get feed back from close people whose opinions I really care about, like my family and friends. I understand that art is separate from me, so when it comes to the sound of a track, I want it to sound good so if that means I have to scrap the way I envisioned it for the sake of the bigger picture, I’ll do it.

Premiere: Horsepowar takes on the rap world with her latest EP Out2Lunch -
HipHopCanada: When you’re about to write a set of bars, what’s your writing process like?

Horsepowar: There’s always ideas popping in and out of my head, I quickly write em down in my note book or in my phone. If it’s a big concept, like my “Eyebrows” song, or “Hold Me Homies” (a song for the homies) I go in with that mindset and let everything else mold around that idea. But then sometimes I just have a sliver of the idea of the track and I let my mind run off of that and see where it takes me. I have the attention span of a squirrel, so I’m learning patience in song writing. I’ve noticed that a big challenge for me is completing the thought, as opposed to having a fragment of an idea. I’m still so new to all of this and as I’m putting out music to the public. I still feel like it’s trial and error. I have yet to find my rhythm…but I’m certainly on my way.

HipHopCanada: Out2Lunch was well received with an international spotlight from GQ India. What other kind of reactions have you received about the EP?

Horsepowar: The reaction has been great. I’ve been releasing small projects for the last few years and this is my third. I think the listeners have definitely seen growth within my work. My work isn’t where I want it to be – I’m nowhere near my final destination. But, I have to admit I am proud of what I’ve done and I had fun creating it. I think it’s apparent through the eyes and ears of the listeners, especially from those listeners who have been following me from the beginning.

Premiere: Horsepowar takes on the rap world with her latest EP Out2Lunch -
HipHopCanada: Where did the inspiration or motivation for this project come from, and how long did it take to come to full fruition?

Horsepowar: It was written in the time of my last semester of university before I wrapped up my degree. I’ve undergone a whole lot of personal changes in the past year but they’ve become clear and rose to the surface in the last few months of 2015. I wanted to document who I was at the moment because history is only remembered when written down. I began production right after I finished my exams and moved back home, in mid December and finished all the recording and mastering in the beginning of February. I had to cut a couple tracks that will hopefully resurface later but they weren’t meant to be for this EP. Not yet…but soon El Cosmico and Melatonin Dreams will be released.

HipHopCanada: How do you feel like this project is different from your previous project, Bollywoes ?

Horsepowar: For one, this new EP is actually mixed and mastered ahah. This was the first time that I had ever got my music mixed and mastered correctly and wow oh wow, do I notice the difference. I can’t believe I went through two whole projects without even touching it. Now I see the importance. Also, Out2Lunch has less Bollywood influence compared to Bollywoes. Out2Lunch has more of an interesting level of songwriting where I experiment with my voice on this EP a lot more. Also the content of my songs is a lot more based on love… this is the first time I’ve been in love and it shows.

HipHopCanada: What’s your favourite track on this EP, or the bars that hold the most accomplishment for you?

Horsepowar: “Out2Lunch”, “XICANOXO”, “Hi Everybody”. Funny fact, before mixing/mastering “Hi Everybody”, it was my least favourite out of all, but after mastering it… it easily became one of my favourites. I think after “Queen” – “Hi Everybody” falls under the same level of sound. It’s a good follow up.

Premiere: Horsepowar takes on the rap world with her latest EP Out2Lunch -
HipHopCanada: You’re a Vancity native. Have you found a lot of support within the local scene?

Horsepowar: I’ve got a ton of love from Crimes & Treasons, the hip-hop radio show that I’m on along side with my homies. That’s all the Vancouver love I need. But as for the local rap scene from fellow rappers, I have yet to see solidarity. I feel like I’ve gained more love from the Desi Internet world. Going to school in Victoria to recently moving back and being in India, I haven’t had the chance to make my mark on Vancouver as my own. I feel like a bird flying around all the time but now that I’m back in Vancouver I’m definitely gonna make more bonds between me and the city.

HipHopCanada: I think that your music and sound are really unique, and give off this kick-ass sense of women empowerment. How did you start rapping, and did you immediately know that this is what you wanted to do?

Horsepowar: I started because of spoken word poetry. It’s a pretty cliché start I think. But the Vancouver Poetry scene is something remarkable. It’s so lively, especially a few years back when I would hit it up on the regular before going to UVIC. That community gave me a ton of support and love and because of that confidence it built it in me, I knew I wanted to further performance poetry. I knew immediately that I wanted to perform but I never felt comfortable playing another role other than myself. Since childhood I loved the spotlight and attention, from hosting dance concerts in my bedroom to taking 8 years of dance training and being in a dance squad called “7 Deadly Sins” to being in school plays and studying theatre in University. It was inevitable for me to start rapping because of who I was and my taste in music. Sometimes its hard to take certain rappers seriously because it seems like a joke.. but I truly believe that I build belief in my music and it just fits. I can’t see myself doing anything else, and I won’t be doing anything else with my life. There’s no plan B for me. My throat chakra is poppin’ off pop rocks and damn son, I’m in it for the long haul.

Premiere: Horsepowar takes on the rap world with her latest EP Out2Lunch -
HipHopCanada: I know you’ve been really busy this last year between promoting and creating this new project. We all what to know what’s next for Horsepowar?

Horsepowar: More music of course. Straight bars. I just got a sweet camera, so definitely a lot of video content so the listeners can have a peak in my life and really get to know who I am. I live a funny life, and I think people would enjoy a little Horsepowar in their life to brighten it up. I’m working on designing workshops for high school English classes where we use the aesthetic of hip hop and rap to teach poetry through drama-based techniques. I specialized in Applied Theatre in my BFA of Theatre.. so I want to implement the education I’ve had in my art now that I’m done. I’m calling it “Horsepowar’s Hip-Hop University” and I can’t wait for all my lil ponies to get certified in Horsie’s school!

Premiere: Horsepowar takes on the rap world with her latest EP Out2Lunch - - Kira Hunston (Hip Hop Canada)

"Vancouver rapper bringing Desi sound to South By Southwest"

A Vancouver-born rapper is heading to the South By Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas next week for what will be the biggest performance of her young career.

Jasleen Powar, who raps as Horsepowar, has been described as "a Desi rapper who uses the theatrics of Bollywood — visually and sonically."

Horsepowar started out as a slam poet in high school, but made the transition to rap music.

Kia Kadiri, Vancouver rapper, helps students through hip hop workshops
N.W.A. gold and platinum awards uncovered in B.C. family's storage locker
"When I used to perform at Cafe Du Soleil on Monday nights, at the Vancouver poetry house, they would always say, 'You're so punk, you're so badass, but we hear this rap sound to you, you should put a beat over it,'" she told The Early Edition host Rick Cluff.

Bollywood has been a major influence on Horsepowar's sound, she says. Her mother is a "huge fan," and they listened to Hindi movie mixtapes in the car while she was growing up.

"I can tell you who played the character that sang that song ... and the singer of the song, and what movie it was from, and what scene it was from," she said. "I'm obsessed because of my mother."

WARNING: Graphic language

Family has always been a big part of her life, too, although her family hasn't been complete since the death of her brother, Jason.

Jason Powar died 10 years ago in a motorcycle accident at age 21. She was a young teenager at the time and described their relationship as still developing at that time.

Jason was interested in theatre, and she wonders if they could have become collaborators if he were still alive.

"I feel like I was almost there, and if he got to know me now it would be so different," she said. "We would be making music videos together, and he's half the reason why my music taste is that way, but he just doesn't know how much he's affected me."

Horsepowar will be performing at South By Southwest on March 16 in support of her latest EP, Out2Lunch. - CBC News

"3 South Asian Women On Being An Artist And Growing Up Between Two Cultures"

Pakistani-Canadian artist Maria Qamar, British Asian Photographer Sanaa Hamid, and Canadian Rapper Horsepowar are three South Asian creatives rapidly making a name for themselves. In each of their respective art forms, these women are re-evaluating and reappropriating South Asian identity in a relevant and exciting way.
Collectively, their work captures the spectrum of experiences that come with living amongst two cultures, building them an international fan base of young desis who see their everyday realities reflected in their work. I sat down with them to discuss their work and experiences growing up between two cultures.
Priya: Can you give a brief introduction about yourself and how you got started?

Courtesy of Maria Qamar.
Maria: I’m Maria. On the internet I go as Hatecopy. I make art/memes by combining old American comics and desi Aunties. I started really pushing my art last year, when I was unemployed from my desk job and wanting to take full advantage of all the free time and freedom that comes with living outside of mom and dad’s house.
Sanaa: I’m Sanaa! I’m an artist working primarily with photography. It aims to explore my Pakistani-British identity while rejecting the narrative that it should be painful to not “fit in.” It’s not my attempt to assimilate, it’s my attempt to build and decide who I am on my own terms…unapologetically. I have a background in photography and graduated back in 2014.
Jasleen: Hi Everybody! I’m Jasleen (Sassleen) Powar aka Horsepowar. I’m a rapper, theatre graduate, wordsmith, foosball champion, a90’s Bollywood fanatic, and a desi gyal who’s trying to unlock the universe one verse at a time. I started rapping from spoken word poetry at the Vancouver Poetry Slam at Café Deux Soleil. From there I joined the Van Slam Youth team while being involved in my school’s theatre program. In my second year of uni, I wanted to be like Andy Milonakis and Tom Green, and rap about funny stuff because I was tired of my depressing teenage poetry that was too dark for my own good. I’ve always been obsessed with music.
Priya: Growing up, being Indian meant being different, and I definitely went through a period of feeling that difference was a burden. It was something that happened to me rather than who I was, and was never something to celebrate. How did you feel about your Asian identity growing up?
Maria: There were no role models for young desi immigrants to look up to on the Disney Channel, so we looked down on ourselves. As a child I assimilated too quickly. I figured if I was going to be attacked for being a desi, I could pretend to be something else and, for my sanity and safety, was forced to mask my identity. However, at home nothing made me happier than a solid 3-hour, corny-as-hell, desi Rom-Com.
I always told myself that the end goal was to be “normal.” Normal just meant white, because nothing about hanging out at the mall with boys without parental supervision until 9pm was normal in a desi home.
I figured if I was going to be attacked for being a desi, I could pretend to be something else and, for my sanity and safety, was forced to mask my identity.

Nadine Ijewere
Sanaa: Honestly, I completely dismissed my background while growing up, even though I felt constantly Other-ed. But it’s been my photography that actually allowed me to delve into myself properly and now I’m so proud of who I am, so I’m grateful for it. I was the same as Maria, I just tried to assimilate as much as possible. I actually remember at school when I was about 7 or 8, all of the (white) children were going around telling each other what their parents names were. Linda. Pete. Victoria. John. I was frozen with the fear at the thought of them all turning to me, and having to revealing my parents names and their reactions, their mockery. I quickly withdrew myself from the conversation and ignored their questioning. I felt the sting of being different, but also a shame for feeling that way. As I grew up, I heard the word “paki” spat out of the mouths of my peers, and began to feel the extent of my difference; I even began to hold a resentment towards my ethnicity. Flash forward to now and I am more than happy to waltz down a road in my shalwar kameez and jhumkay and face the side-eyes and commentary.
Jasleen: Growing up with siblings hella older than me meant I had their support and guidance, and my siblings never took being Indian as a burden. I mimicked that. I remember I went to India in the 6th grade for my sister’s wedding and came back and did a presentation about it while wearing a salwar kameez. I had no shame wearing my suit to school even though I had people looking at me like, “woah!” I grew up dancing to Bollywood tracks and took Shiamak Davar’s classes because I wanted to find a community of people who enjoyed Hindi music as much as I did. There were definitely moments in my life where I was told I was too “white-washed” because I did stuff like listen to Black Sabbath or wear weird clothes. That was interesting because according to some Indian people in my school, I wasn’t “brown enough.” But now as a woman, I’ve furthered my appreciation of my culture by strutting it out loud in everything I do.
Priya: As a kid, I had very few role models that looked like me beyond my own family and Bollywood. I feel like I didn’t realize the impact of that until I was much older. Who were your role models growing up?
As I grew up, I heard the word “paki” spat out of the mouths of my peers, and began to feel the extent of my difference; I even began to hold a resentment towards my ethnicity.
Maria: I had no role models growing up. I think the first time I really noticed the presence of a desi in the media was when I saw Jasmeet’s (aka JusReign) very first video in my late teens. Since then, his videos have always been close to me. There was just nothing else like it out there. They were inspiring and funny, and really helped me to open up and share my story, too.*
*He is not paying me to say this.
Sanaa: It took me a long time to figure it out, but I think the first time I was exposed to desi culture in the mainstream was actually Bend It Like Beckham! And obviously I saw glimpses of Aishwarya in Devdas or Pakistani dramas my mama was watching, even though I was usually rolling my heavily-eyelinered- 13-year- old- goth eyes! Now I immerse myself in South Asian culture and I appreciate it a lot more.
Jasleen: Definitely my siblings. Also I remember I really looked up to Moesha. Damn, I really wanted Moesha (Brandy) to marry Usher. Nelly Furtado came in my life in the 3rd grade and my eyes lit up because she was from Victoria, an island near Vancouver. She put things in perspective — that anyone, anywhere, can do big things. Then, in the 7th grade, back in 2005, my brother showed me MIA and I had never felt more understood. “The (po)WAR in me makes a warrior”- MIA.
There were definitely moments in my life where I was told I was too “white-washed” because I did stuff like listen to Black Sabbath or wore weird clothes.

Priya: Who are your role models now? Where do you find your inspiration?
Maria: I now get my inspiration from a place that I know doesn’t lack representation: DESI DRAMAS (insert evil laugh/camera zoom combo).
My current role models are any and all desis making appearances in mainstream media. I truly believe they are filling a very, very important gap that can drastically change a young desi’s life. Girls like Jasleen, Sanaa, Sanam (@Trustmedaddy), Lilly Singh, Mindy Kaling, BabbuThePainter, Kiran Rai, Rupi Kaur, Ayqa Khan… they are all necessary. I constantly look at their work and think of how happy I would have been to see them flourishing if they were around when I was young.
Sanaa: Honestly I’m such a big fan of both Maria and Jasleen so I’m having my own fangirl moment! But yeah, there’s this powerful network of cool brown girls online, not even just necessarily South Asian creatives. WoC who are vocal and passionate inspire me every day. I can’t imagine how it must feel to be growing up with such an accessible network and abundance of role models, though I don’t claim to be one of those. There’s kind of a pressure to have all the answers, but I think having that space for growth and developing our thinking and creativity is important too.
Jasleen: Seriously, desi internet has brought me so much joy. I’ve connected with so many dope sisters from around the globe and there is a mutual understanding of support. I love it. It inspires me so much. My siblings are still the main role models in my life. I really want Nicki Minaj, MIA, and Mindy Kaling to take me under their wing and act as Senseis. I think I would take over the world, heh! I get my inspiration from everything — my experiences, my dreams, my fears, and love.
Priya: Sanaa, your project Cultural Appropriation: A Conversation sparked a lot of conversation about the line between appropriation and appreciation. What’s your personal take on it?

Courtesy of Sanaa Hamid / Via
My series of photographs in “Cultural Appropriation: A Conversation” gained so much attention and I kind of cringe now because I’ve grown so much in my thinking that I see a lot of flaws in it. I created a seemingly neutral stance as the photographer when actually I wasn’t neutral at all, it was more about making it palatable for the (white) mainstream audience. I think appropriation is categorically harmful when white people adorn themselves with the “pretty” parts of an oppressed culture, that is undeniable. The part that winds me up the most though is when people are called out for appropriation and they have the arrogance to deny any responsibility or acknowledge the problem.
Of course there is a way to “appreciate” another culture, but it’s by doing so respectfully, not by assuming a right to it. Even desis need to be careful about what we try and claim as a culture, because there’s a lot of crossover, so there is a definite need to adjust our thinking before we rush out to scream appropriation. But in terms of that series of work, I still get so many emails to this day. Asking me is ___ appropriation? Am I allowed to wear ____? I don’t make the decisions! It was about encouraging thought before you wear something that might be offensive and deciding for yourself. But lord, if I see more white girls wearing bindis during festival season this summer, I might just pick it off their foreheads for them.
Priya: Jasleen, you never shy away from personal or ‘taboo’ topics. Your lyrics and whole aesthetic really challenge the widespread misconception and expectation for Indian women to be submissive, invisible, and quiet. How important is it for you to challenge these expectations? Is it a conscious effort on your part?
I guess you can call me the troll under the bridge. I feel like if I’m speaking honestly from the heart, I’m sure people out there will connect.
Jasleen: I’ve always been a chatter-box. I say the wrong shit at the right time and it feels so damn good. Maybe it’s because I’m the baby of the family, I can get away with a lot of stuff. But I’ve always been vocal about my feelings and I’m one sensitive person… it’s the pisces in me. I just remember older family members always telling me that girls shouldn’t be speaking so much, especially that loud. But I like to piss annoying people off, so it would only fuel me to go further. I guess you can call me the troll under the bridge. I feel like if I’m speaking honestly from the heart, I’m sure people out there will connect. I always remembered in school, teachers would say that no question is a dumb question so if you’re thinking it, feel free to ask away because someone else might be too nervous to ask. I was that kid. I had no fear about looking stupid because I wanted to learn. I think I’ve carried that further. Both my parents talk a lot, if you know Bill and Pinky, you know that it might be hard to get a word in a conversation with them. Now imagine their child: yep, that’s me.
Maria, have you noticed a difference in how South Asian and non South Asian people respond to your work? How do you hope your work speaks to people?

Instagram: @hatecopy
Maria: I like that non-South Asians buy and share my work with their South Asian friends. It says to me, “hey, I may not fully understand what this means but I know Ashok would appreciate this.” I also offer white people a way to share safe, non-problematic, Apu-free jokes with their desi colleagues. You’re welcome, guys.
Priya: How important has social media been for you in terms of building a community and getting recognition for your work?
Maria: I like to think of my Instagram as a gallery that is always open to exhibit my work, 24/7. It’s a space that welcomes my ideas, helps others share and discover the work and gives my friends a way to provide feedback. I purposely refuse to sign any of my illustrations because I aim to be someone whose style can be recognized without a large, tacky watermark spelling it out. It also helps others to remix the work their own way, kind of like a meme. I love when I see someone tag me in posts that may have forgot to mention or credit me. It only means my approach is working.
Sanaa: Agh so important. I can say with confidence I wouldn’t have had 99% of the opportunities I’ve had without the internet. Nor motivation and self belief! I’m so excited to share new work now, because I know I have a wonderful group of people ready to receive it as well as offer feedback and support, and they’ve been there for a couple of years now. I appreciate it so much, those names I’ve been watching, liking, and reblogging since I’ve been creating. I’ve made such wonderful friends through social media. And a lot of the time it all started from a tweet.

Courtesy of Moe Alvarez.
Jasleen: Oh lordy lord, I would not be where I am, or as confident in my work, if it weren’t for social media. I am so blessed to be living in an era where I have access to the world at my fingertips. It’s so easy for me to create and release a song to the public, without any help from labels. The community of artists that I vibe with have mostly all been through the Internet lurking. It puts things in perspective for me as an artist for setting goals because it allows me to think globally. I’ve noticed that India really digs Horsepowar, and because of social media, I am able to connect with the motherland and share my story from Canada.
Priya: Do you have advice for women of color trying to make it in creative industries?
Maria: I read this somewhere and it stuck with me: “Be the person you needed when you were younger.” Women of color have this special, instinctual sisterhood mentality that’s unique and uplifting. If a WoC chooses to reach out and enter the creative space right now, you can be guaranteed there will be girls like us that are happy to help out.
Sanaa: Reach out to others who are slightly ahead of you, who have already been where you’ve been. It’ll make it a hell of a lot easier if you have a casual mentor to give you advice. If there’s any young photographers out there, email me and I’ll try and listen and help if I can. Also, don’t pressure yourself to churn out work at a consumable rate. I’ve actually slowed down my creating process to ensure my work doesn’t come and go with the current trendy discussions.
If a WoC chooses to reach out and enter the creative space right now, you can be guaranteed there will be girls like us that are happy to help out.
Jasleen: Do you. Don’t change for nobody. Embrace every inch of your existence because you are a piece of art. You are marvelous. Don’t be afraid to contact anyone who inspires you or intrigues you. Be humble, be real, be human. Appreciate the pain because the highs are coming, ride the wave, enjoy the ride and surround yourself with those who respect themselves and respect you. AND, if the work is good, it will speak for itself, but if your work isn’t where you imagined it to be, keep at it because you need to work work work work work work (trust Riri). - Priya Minhas (Buzzfeed)

"Horsepowar’s “Hi Everybody” Video Is A Postcard From India"

Family vacations can be stressful, but Vancouver's Horsepowar has the solution: everyone needs a task. On a recent trip to India, she recruited her mom and nephew, Mehjot, to do the camerawork for her new video “Hi Everybody,” premiering today on The FADER. The track, from February's Out2Lunch EP, was produced by Boody B and hi-energy mastermind Jillionaire. Her footage has the feel of a home movie, or a flipbook of postcards from Punjab. We see the massive fields, elaborately decorated lorries, people everywhere (including a gaggle of cute kids), and glimpses from inside and outside the Golden Temple in Amritsar. It's an intimate look at life back home, and a reminder of the traditions that will never die: like acting a fool while drinking a cup of chai. - Anupa Mistry (The Fader)


- HORSPOWARxHORSEPLAY (prod. by Fascist) 
1) Bill Murray Jane 
2) Mr. Rude Dude 
3) Percs & Merkins
4) Pabst Smear
- Bollywoes
3) My Motherland
4) Hold Me Homies
5) Best Actress Award Goes to Rob Schneider 

- Unofficial Releases:
1) Twisted Bitch (Bernard Herrmann- Twisted Nerve remix)
2) Definition of a Fuc Boi (DJ Mustard - How to Be a Man remix)
3) Sup Boi (Sheek Louch- Good Love remix)
4) Fashionably Late (prod. by Issue)
5) Eyebrows (on fleek) (prod. by Maieli) 



Horsepowar is rapper from Vancouver, Canada. Being a child of immigrant parents from India,  she takes the struggles of being a brown girl living in a crazy world and channels it into a spectacle just like a Bollywood film. Horsepowar comes from a theatre background, getting her Bachelor of Arts in Theatre at University of Victoria. Horsepowar paints the stage with music that exerts vibrant colours that show off her feminism, humour, and culture.

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