January 31, 2018 1:26 am
Updated: February 6, 2018 10:44 pm

They carry guns in South Asian gangster rap videos. In real life, many haven’t touched one

The ongoing gang violence in Metro Vancouver has spawned a new debate over the growing popularity of South Asian gangsta rap. Warning: some of the images in this story could be disturbing for some viewers.


They’re filled with glitz, bravado and lyrics that are all about carrying guns.

They’re South Asian gangster rap videos. And in real life, many who feature in them have never touched a gun, according to one Vancouver-based DJ.

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Nevertheless, this music is smashing the Indo-Canadian music charts, and some parents are concerned about the influence that these music videos, which glorify the gangster lifestyle, are having on their children.

“Music is something that teenagers connect with instantly,” said mother Simran Walia.

“If this is the kind of music that’s going out there, with a video that explicitly shows how to think, how to act, then it is very disturbing.”

Most of the artists who produce this music are Canadian.

But none are actually gangsters in real life, Red 93.1FM DJ Nick Chowlia told Global News.

“It’s wanna be a gangster,” he said.

“Half of these artists don’t even hold a gun until the video shoot.”

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Gangster rap is a genre of music that was born in the U.S.A. in the 1980s as a way for artists to express their anger at white police officers.

Chowlia said these artists don’t come from the same hip hop background.

“I think it’s more of, he’s singing those kinds of songs, they’re selling, let me try,” he said.

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But while the gangster lifestyle is being celebrated in music videos, just for entertainment, the realities of gang life in the Lower Mainland are clear to see.

Nearly one-third of all targeted deaths that relate to gang violence in B.C. are South Asians, according to police data.

Sachdeep Singh Doot, 18, was found dead in the trunk of the car only a couple of weeks ago.

“There is an overrepresentation of South Asian kids in gangs, no doubt about that,” said Sgt. Jag Khosa, gang intervention officer with Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit BC (CFSEU BC).

But Lady B, a DJ with Swaraj Radio, said you can’t just blame gang violence on music.

“This music has been played all over the world, and yet it’s Surrey that has the gang problem,” she said.

“Even if the music is influencing in some respects, what’s the real issue, because it can’t be the music alone.”

Police, meanwhile, have produced their own videos in an effort to deglamourize gang life.

But making young people listen can be a challenge.

“Our job is to keep pushing our message out to show them the realities of gang life,” Khosa said.

Sidhu Moose Wala, one of the most popular South Asian gangster rap artists, who declined to comment for this story, performs at the Punjab Banquet Hall in Surrey on Friday.

Other artists who were approached, who produce this kind of music, also declined to comment.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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