'Music Writing Was in His Soul': Sidhu Moose Wala's Rise in Canada's Brampton
"Brampton was a hub for Punjabi music when Moose Wala entered the scene," a journalist in Canada told The Quint.
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"Music writing was in his soul," Deepak Punj, a journalist and radio host based in Canada who knew Sidhu Moose Wala personally, told The Quint.
In an incident that has shocked India, the Punjabi singer and Congress Party leader was shot dead in a village in Punjab's Mansa district on Sunday, 29 May.
Hours after the murder, Punjab Director General of Police (DGP) VK Bhawra informed, "Gangster Goldy Brar has taken responsibility for the murder. Lawrence Bishnoi gang is behind the murder. At least three weapons were used in the murder."
Moose Wala and the Punjabi Music Hub in Brampton
After completing his engineering in Ludhiana in 2016, Moose Wala came to Canada and enrolled in Humber College, Toronto.
Speaking to The Quint, Punj said that Moose Wala was just a lyricist at the time of his enrolment in Humber, but songwriting "was something that was always close to his heart". During his time in Ludhiana, for instance, he had written the lyrics of a song for the Punjabi singer who goes by the stagename Ninja.
In Canada, while studying, Moose Wala started getting exposed to the Punjabi music industry in Brampton, a city in Ontario's Greater Toronto Area.
"Brampton had become a hub for Punjabi music by the time Moose Wala entered the scene. Many Punjabi singers in Canada owe their rise to Brampton, and so do producers and music directors. They continue to be based in Toronto for the same reason," a Punjabi-Canadian journalist who wished to remain anonymous, told The Quint.
"Moose Wala's rise, therefore, started in Brampton," the journalist added. He even released a song in full dedication to the city.
Punj also said that Brampton is where Moose Wala encountered other rising Punjabi musicians in Canada. "Brampton is a place full of opportunities and Moose Wala was still quite young when he came here. He gradually started to get involved with other rising stars like Deep Jandu and Sunny Malton."
The Rise of Moose Wala
While in Brampton, he worked part time in a bakery. But that was nothing surprising, Punj told The Quint.
"Most international students try to do odd jobs here to sustain themselves. Moose Wala was one of them, but he did not spend too long in the bakery because it did not take too long for his music career to kick off."
Moose Wala established contact with producers and directors in Brampton and started releasing songs. The song that really made him famous was a gangster rap collaboration with Toronto-born Punjabi music director Byg Byrd. The track is called 'So High', and was released in 2017.
Then, in 2018, his debut album at its peak ranked at 66 at the Billboard Canadian Albums Chart. In 2020, he was named by The Guardian as among the '50 new artists for 2020'.
"Therefore, in Brampton, Moose Wala started releasing more and more songs, and this is where his videos were shot as well. If you listen to his songs closely, there are many references to Brampton and Toronto, because this is where he started getting actual recognition," the anonymous Punjabi-Canadian journalist added while speaking to The Quint.
A Polarised Fan Base
"When Moose Wala did his first show in Brampton, he was quite nervous. He was not used to a stage at all. His first performance was at a banquet hall," Punj told The Quint.
"There was an evolution in his songs and his writing. While his intial writing was perceived as being provocative and one that promoted drugs and guns, Moose Wala later started picking up social issues in his songs."
This created a polarised fanbase for Moose Wala. His fans loved him while his critics and a big chunk of the media found his songs problematic.
Additionally, the guns and violence that were glorified in his songs often became obstructions before his shows.
For instance, Moose Wala was expected to play the Pacific Coliseum in the Canadian city of Vancouver, British Columbia on 23 July. Ticket sales, however, were delayed last week after the police expressed concerns about security risks involved.
Punj said, "These 'security risks' can't be directly traced to Moose Wala's songs, but there is some concern about the heated atmosphere at shows due to the nature of the songs that he releases."
"The sad thing about the youth is that what Punjabi singers had started writing in their songs, their fans started replicating in real life. Moose Wala, in a way, got trapped in his own spiderweb," he concluded.
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Topics: Indian Diaspora Sidhu Moose Wala
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