By now, I think everyone is in agreement that the early to mid 90s was when the UK scene was at its peak. Today’s Flashback Fridays album really reinforces that statement. ‘Put Sardaran De’ by Skillz Inc was a 90s album through and through. Only a fool would question that. The harrowing Hip Hop vibe throughout the album was just deadly.
Skillz Inc is a production duo from the Midlands, comprising of good friends J-Skillz and Chat.
Before we go into a bit more detail into this week’s Flashback, there is a significant link between the previous Flashback album and this week’s that is definitely worth knowing.
As mentioned in the previous article, ‘Death Jamm’ was produced by a 3 man production outfit, consisting of brothers, Happy and Bobby, and their good friend Bassi. Death Jamm had a very heavy Hip Hop vibe, and so did ‘Put Sardaran De’. Coincidence? I think not! For those that are unaware, Happy and Bobby are, in fact, the nephews of J-Skillz! The love for Hip Hop definitely runs through the family!
“THE COLLABORATION BETWEEN SHINDA AND SKILLZ INC WOULD LEAD TO THE CREATION OF AN ALBUM THAT WOULD EVENTUALLY BECOME ONE OF ROMA MUSIC BANK’S TOP 5 BEST SELLING ALBUMS OF ALL TIME!”
‘Put Sardaran De’ was unleashed across the world in July ’97, via THE label of the 90s, Roma Music Bank. The album featured one vocalist, and to be honest, that’s all it needed. That vocalist was Panjabi Folk Legend, Surinder Shinda! The collaboration between Shinda and Skillz Inc would lead to the creation of an album that would eventually become one of Roma Music Bank’s Top 5 best selling albums of all time!
The recording of the album was definitely an amazing experience for the duo. Before the days of sending recorded vocals over email, producers and artists had to actually fly over to India to record vocals! Imagine that!
After landing in Panjab for the first of many recording sessions for the album, the boys were picked up from the pind (village) by Shinda himself. They got chatting, and the next thing they knew, they’ve pulled into another pind; having a session with a load of Shinda’s UK friends, who had flew over for a holiday! Welcome to India.
Whilst recording with Shinda, the boys had the opportunity to meet Panjabi Folk singer, Ranjit Mani, who became a good friend of the boys. During one of the sessions, the boys got hungry, so Shinda took them out to grab a bite to eat. For us normal people, grabbing a bite to eat means getting a Happy Meal from Maccy Ds, or going to a restaurant. But not with Shinda. They never went to McDonalds. They only ended up having a meal at KULDIP MANAK’S house! What an honour that must have been. Imagine sitting there eating roti and sabji, whilst you’ve got 2 of the biggest legends in Panjabi Folk history sitting in front of you catching up!
The album was co produced by Vivek Nayar, as well as mixed and mastered. He recalls:
“The album was always destined for success, because the songs were very strong and powerful, and Shinda had recorded his amazing vocals perfectly for the project. The album achieved even greater success than we anticipated, and I was and still am very proud to have been part of it.”
Legendary producer, Panjabi MC, was also one of the first people to officially hear the finished product.
The Famous Ludhiana Central Bus Station
During their visit to Panjab, the boys were taken to Ludhiana Central Bus Station by Shinda’s roadies. It was explained to them that if songs got played here, they were deemed to be a hit. The bus station was THE go to place for drivers to get new music. This was music central, and rightly so, as only the hits were on repeat there. To an extent, the unofficial quality control of the Panjabi music industry! Drivers would then go back to the bus stop, where they would play tracks with their fellow bus drivers, as well as on the bus. ‘Put Sardaran De’ was an album that managed to break into that elite drivers’ playlist. What an achievement that was!
“I was very young and cheeky back when this album was being made. Chat was quite chilled out and patient, whereas I think I was annoying J! I remember having a few cheeky conversations with him in those sessions haha!
It was a brilliant experience, and I was very lucky and fortunate to be there. I played the Tumbi on the album but it wasn’t quite good enough at the time. I think it got used on Track 3, but it was literally just strumming the root note!
Nevertheless, it was an absolute pleasure to hear the album in its production stage, and smashed it when it came out. I rinsed the album and still listen to it now.”
Maximum NRG (@maximum_nrg)
“It was one of the highlights of Hot N Spicy when we got Skillz Inc to perform. For us, it was definitely a special ocassion.
The album had everything. The Powerhouse King of Desi vocals, Surinder Shinda. It had authentic Desi sounds all the way through to the hard Hip Hop beats. The Tumbi and Dhol samples in ‘Balbeero Bhabhi’, all way through to samples from Hip Hop artists, like EPMD’s ‘So Whatcha Sayin’ EP’.
‘Put Sardaran De’ – what a track! The fact that we still listen to it today and discuss it, tells us it is undeniably a true great.
The main tracks were the obvious ones like ‘Aakh De Ne Sarey’ and ‘Put Sardaran De’, but it still is rare to have such an album where you would listen to the whole album and never just one track. I remember this to be a permanent fixture in the old Sony Cassette Walkman. Skillz Inc were on another level. They were ‘THE LORDS OF THE PANJABI UNDERGROUND’!”
Album Purchase Links
‘Put Sardaran De’ can be purchased both physically and digitally via the following links:
Bhangra Tape Deck would like to thank J-Skillz from Skillz Inc, Vivek Nayar, Tru-Skool and Maximum NRG for their input into this week’s Flashback Fridays post.