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"bombay badboy/coverstory"

IshQ Bector is a superstar, but he goes totally unnoticed on a moody Monday in a noisy Osborne Village café.

None of the customers tucking into omelettes take any notice of his arrival, and not a single pair of eyes looks up from coffee cups and morning newspapers.

If this were Mumbai, the scene would be different.

Over in India, Bector is a star: his self-proclaimed “Hinglish” (Hindi and English pidgin) hip hop has become a hot commodity on the Indian pop charts. He’s a star rapper in clubs and has made a big splash in Bollywood, where he’s written songs for blockbusters such as Barsatt and the upcoming Dhoom II and collaborated with luminaries such as composer Pritam, actor Ashmit Patel, and music directors Salim and Suleman Merchant.

But there’s even more to Bector’s career than Bollywood credits. Over a year after its release, the rapper’s on-your-feet dance hit Nachana ve nachana is still the 13th-most-requested video on Indian music station Channel (V), and Bector even caused a mild scandal in India over the sexually explicit lyrics on Bangin’ a Bollywood Chick. North American rappers might consider the tune standard fare.

“They want Indian family values being portrayed,” Bector says of the Indian music market. “Ninety per cent of the videos over there are skin shows, and about 80 per cent of them make it to the Top 5.

“But along will come a family-oriented type of display, and that’ll be the Top 3. That’s why even Nachana ve nachana is still in the Top 40, because of family values being shown. There’s no skin in it at all. It’s an old-school Kid ’n’ Play house party. That type of era.”

Frek Sho boy makes good

Despite his Punjabi heritage and star status in India, Bector is not a native Indian. He’s a Winnipeg boy who was raised in the sprawling suburbs of the South End in a family of medical professionals. He kicked off his career with local hip hop crew Frek Sho (which he still proudly refers to as his “brothers”) and studied Chinese traditional medicine before moving to India in 2001 to find his fortune. At first, the decision stunned his family.

“When I made the plan, there was so much resistance,” the 28-year-old Bector says. “They gave me the whole ‘we left that country to come here to give you guys a better life. People lose themselves in Bollywood.’

“They’re from small towns in India, so to them it’s like here and Hollywood… How many people go to Hollywood and turn into something else?

“But now they’re very proud. Whenever people come over, they’re playing movies with my songs in them.”

Upon arriving in Mumbai (popularly known as Bombay), Bector was struck by the full force of culture shock. Though he had visited India before with his family, he had never lived outside Winnipeg. Braving the crowds of the world’s second-most-populous country proved daunting, especially when his Western accent gave him away.

“Nothing can prepare you for the poverty,” he says, speaking of the indigent population of beggars, eunuchs and impoverished children that clog Mumbai’s streets. “When I first got there, I could just sense them homing in on me, saying, ‘OK, this dude’s from outside.’

“I’d get really nervous, I didn’t know what to do. Slowly I started to get desensitized. It’s bad in a way, but in another way it’s good… You get to see a lot of humanity.”

He wants his MTV

At his father’s behest, Bector enrolled in an acting school, where he began making connections in the thriving Bollywood industry. He also tried out for an MTV India VJ search. He almost won the gig, but producers decided he “wasn’t Indian enough.”

“It means that I don’t have an Indian accent. It means my ideas are way out there,” he says. “The people I was competing with were born and raised Indian. They had traditional Indian values. They weren’t nuts, like we’re a little nuts over here… we’re ready for more abstract behaviour.

“Over there, the people in that position are from super prep schools, super-rich families… their culture is to be prim and proper, and that’s more acceptable to the Indian audiences.”

Gimme a little passion

Although he hit cultural glass ceiling at MTV India, the VJ hunt did give Bector the boost he needed. Not only did he end up working on some MTV shows, he also met producer Razy Ghai, who directed the rapper’s first video, a sensual slow-motion cut for the title track from his debut album, IshQ De (‘ishq’ means ‘passion’; ‘de’ means ‘give me’).

Another album, Desi Hip Hop, followed, and Bector was on his way to becoming a Hindi hero — though he still had to dodge the Western rapper stereotype.

“I got there to find out, ‘You have an English accent when you speak Hindi… so we’ll use you as an international English. Give us your English,’” he recalls, noting that fans sometimes expect him to throw more ghetto hand signals and wear more bling.

Back in Canada, Bector isn’t dogged by those expectations, and he’s crossing his fingers that Canadians will open up to his style. Judging by the hot buzz of artists such as M.I.A. (who mixed Sri Lankan sounds with club-ready beats), North Americans are ready for Indian-Western fusion hip hop, and Bector intends to bring it to them on his brand new label, Bollywood Chick.

“The musical appeal displays Indian culture. People are interested in Indian culture, in Indian classical music,” he says. “Nowadays it’s normal. It’s not strange at all to hear a hip hop beat with a sitar or some tablas thrown in.”

Peg City party

On May 19 at Energy Lounge, the rapper is teaming up with local urban radio station Flava 107.9 to celebrate the launch of Bollywood Chick. Formed with the help of his former Frek Sho pals, the label is the vehicle that Bector hopes will get his music across Canada.

The first release, slated for September, will feature the rapper’s favourite tunes from his two Indian albums, and he also plans to use the label to shop his upcoming third Indian release in Canada. Then he’ll work on a Canadian video.

Though Bector will be returning to Mumbai the day after the label launch, he’s already planning to come back to Canada in September to promote the album. Even though he’s a sensation on the booming streets of India, Bector says he finds it refreshing to be able to sit unmolested in a restauratn or café.

“It’s awesome,” he says of coming home. “I get to go out and not really be recognized. People over here are so down-to-earth. Over there, it’s a glamour profession.

“I went over there thinking I was getting into music, but it’s not just music. No matter what you do as a part of it, you have to project that glamour. It becomes quite tiring… I end up staying home and watching DVDs a lot.”
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Aye! Hip Hopper
Dakku Daddy
IshQ with Mobb Deep
IshQ with John Cena
extra videos..


Aye Hip Hopper
Ugly aur Pagli
Mission Istanbul
God Tussi Great Ho
Dakku Daddy
Ishq De
Bollywood Chick
Nachana ve Nachana
My World
Bombay Bounce
Ishq Bector - Mic Fight
Aye Hip Hopper (Suketu Club Banger)
Dhoom 2
Fight Club
Pyar ke Side Effects

Universal India-Ishq De
BMG/Crescendo-Desi Hip Hop
Times Music India-Dakku Daddy
Bollywood Chick Inc./Fontana North-Dakku Daddy



Energy, innovation, finesse, and music that commands you onto the dance floor is only the beginning of IshQ Bector. This Hip-Hop artist is gathering his global Indian community for a musical revolution.

As a singer, songwriter, producer, performer, and entrepreneur, this visionary poet is making a statement. And it's all in the name. IshQ is passionate love, and this is exactly what this rising star possesses in all he puts his heart and mind to.

"The Aye Hip Hopper Collection", IshQ's latest CD with Times Music is fuelled with unrestrained artistic vitality that will not disappoint fans. With over 3 million views on youtube alone, "Aye Hip Hopper" is the sound that will connect and introduce you to IshQ's twist of Bollywood flavor and Hip-Hop. Hitting the club and rocking to the beat is what this album will do for any listener.

Born & raised in Winnipeg, Canada, IshQ has made Mumbai his second home. Certified in Chinese Medicine with his forte in Acupuncture, this multi-talented Gemini followed his first passion in life, music. He has studied acting at the famous Roshan Taneja film studio in Mumbai then went on to VJ & host shows on MTV, B4U & Channel V.

IshQ has written, produced and sang on films like Ugly aur Pagli, Maan gaye Mugale aazam,& Race. He has shared the stage with artists like Mobb Deep, Chamillionaire, John Cena (WWE), & Rishi Rich raising the temperature a couple of notches with his skillz on the mic and as a killer dancer. IshQ has lit up the silver screen to feature in huge banner movies like 'Barsaat,' and his "Karle Gunaah" with the sensual Mallika Sherawat.

IshQ has traveled the globe with his authentic Hip-Hop sound and is already filtering into Bollywood cinema. Having collaborated with elite Bollywood music directors it is only a matter of time before this Indo-Canadian artist infiltrates every home in the Mother land.