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Delhi Sultanate – The Profile

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Delhi Sultanate is a prominent performance artist and perhaps India’s only reggae-dancehall singer, MC and dub poet. A founding member of the BASSFoundation soundsystem, his unique and unparalleled style can also be found in projects ranging from independent films to poetry slams, New Delhi’s first ska band, and a string of dubplate recordings.        

Growing up in Germany in the 1990s Delhi Sultanate became involved with the country’s emerging reggae culture, running a dancehall soundsystem and beginning his emceeing career. Several years spent in San Francisco’s Bay Area also provided a big influence through California’s underground hip hop scene. Upon moving back to India, he combined these influences with training as a historian specialising in medieval Indian history.  Delhi Sultanate’s lyrical focus on the interplay between culture, power, social control and violence is a reflection of historical insights, combined with the power of dancehall lyricism, exploring and challenging inequality and injustice.

Early in his performance poetry career, Delhi Sultanate opened the 2005 International Kitab Literary Festival in New Delhi, and has gone on to perform with the likes of Bob Hollman and Mallika Booker. 

In 2008, along with Maarten Klein and Ed ‘Praxis’ Anderson, he founded India’s first drum & bass and dubstep soundsystem – BASSFoundation. Together they run a legendary monthly night in New Delhi which has featured some of the biggest local and international names in the scene including Shiva Sound System, Subswara DJ Nasha, Ant TC1, and Order of the Essence, to name just a few.  BASSFoundation’s renowned live performances feature Delhi Sultanate’s sharp social commentary in a mix of freestyle MCing and acapella performance poetry, attracting large audiences in Delhi as well as regular sets in Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, and elsewhere.

Earlier this year, along with producers Chris McGuiness and Audio Pervert, Delhi Sultanate founded the Word, Sound & Power collective – It endeavors to create a new brand of conscious Indian electronic dancehall music by collaborating with socially conscious and revolutionary singers and lyricists from the different parts of India. Their first venture – supported by the Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan – ‘The Bant Singh Project’ features the iconic Dalit singer, Bant Singh and integrates his songs of rebellion, with the electronic beats and sounds of Chris McGuiness, Delhi Sultanate’s English and Patois rhymes and the cinematography of Lakshman Anand.

Another recent musical collaboration, bringing the classic Jamaican genres of ska and rocksteady to India, is the new 6-piece band, The Ska Vengers.

Delhi Sultanate is also currently working on a solo album with production by Chris McGuinness and Audio Pervert.

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