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962 Plays on Hummaa, 2 different languages
40 Tracks on Hummaa

Bohemia’s biography

Bohemian: A person who does not follow conventional standards of behaviour, expressing themselves in an artistic or literary way.

Desi. A descendant of Southern Asia, primarily India/Pakistan.

Bohemia The Punjabi Rapper

In his early teens, Ra (short for Raja) arrived with his family in America, settling in San Francisco’s Mission District. Within their first month on the block, Ra witnessed a young man get murdered over five dollars. The killer was the man’s brother in law. This would be Ra’s first lesson on trusting others in the streets of Pardes (the foreign land). Although he had strong knowledge and passion for writing music, he made it a second priority, and began hanging on the street corners to run drugs for local hustlers.

The streets became a priority to Ra, but he would occasionally play keyboards at local Desi events. Through this platform, he gained recognition in the Desi music community. But what struck people most was his ability to write songs or poetry, mostly in Urdu and Punjabi.

He was offered a lucrative job at a Sacramento based recording studio and he decided to follow his passion. Ra packed his bags and left his family behind to become a full time musician.

Along with a crew of other musicians, Ra was now spending his days on the road, playing gigs throughout the US and Canada, sleeping in cars and on recording studio floors. It would be through this experience that Ra would learn about stage presence.

As the youngest member of the musical family, Ra came to consider them his older brothers, but as certain members became entangled in hard drugs, the crew fell apart.
It was at this point that Ra, still a teenager, decided to go his separate way. Again, he packed his bags, this time to join his cousin in Oakland.

Oakland, CA. A city known for both it’s abundance of independent rap labels and it’s uncontrollable murder rate. Devastated by the loss of his friend and heavily influenced by his friends in Oakland, Ra began to loose focus on his music and indulge in heavy drugs, crime and women. He spent his days hanging in the streets and moving drugs across the 680 and 880 interstate.

Yet and still, Ra would be delivered an opportunity which would draw him back to his true passion. His cousin was working on a West Oakland recording studio, when he introduced him to a young hip hop producer called Sha One. Sha was in the process of setting up his own label. He was looking for an artist who had a strong presence both live and on record and he saw this in Ra. He flipped out when he heard Ra reciting something he’d written in Punjabi, and asked him to rap it over one of his beats. Ra has never rapped seriously before, but when he did, it was as if he’d found the perfect expressive medium for his writing.

Over the next few months, Ra wrote a library of lyrics. This would become arsenal for his debut album Vich Pardesan De (In The Foreign Land) – an autobiographical story of his life as a Desi youngster adopting to the streets of America. This album brought forth not only a voice for young Desis who were constantly balancing between Desi culture and American culture, but a new genre of music: Desi Rap.

In the studio, Sha always referred to Ra as a true bohemian, thus Bohemia, The Punjabi Rapper was born.
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Zoltan Ban on Bohemia:
04 Sep,2014 at 11:27 AM
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