Prabh Deep Singh is only 23, but his music appears to come from someone much older. Perhaps this can be attributed in part to the fact that he comes from Tilak Nagar, one of West Delhi’s most turbulent neighbourhoods, with a debilitating drug problem.
Most people will have heard of Tilak Nagar, or its neighbouring Tilak Vihar, for two reasons – many widows of the 1984 Sikh genocide were resettled there, and for drug-related activities. In the aftermath of the devastating killing of Sikhs, many members of the next generation here began to use drugs.
Deep documents the reality of this life and his community in his subversive album Class-Sikh, exemplified by the powerful video for his track Suno (above), featuring Sez. “The narrative explored in the album is shaped by my experiences,” he told Scroll.in. “I’ve lost a number of friends to overdoses and drug-related violence over the past few years. The stories are all real – from young kids in the neighbourhood getting into drugs and gangs to them attempting to rob me. Through this album, I want to show the state of my community right now. The topics that I’ve covered are taboo – no one here talks about them even though they’re a part of our daily life.”
The poignant video shows the life of a young Sikh boy, presumably in Tilak Nagar, who, instead of going to school, has adopted the life of a street drug peddler.
Prabh Deep says he wants to “portray a sense of hopelessness and morbid mediocrity that our education system imbibes in kids these days. All they teach us is how to be cogs in the machine, and even then we’re not guaranteed a reasonable quality of life.” He makes the point with his lyrics in Punjabi:
“The streets are ablaze with strange sounds (okay)
People claim to have rich hearts, but empty pockets (a lie)
In truth, the high rules your heart (true)
One’s an addict, while the other profits (why)
Listen up! Here comes Prabh Deep
Brings meaningful music with a message
Suno suno, aaya Prabh Deep
He’s laying bare what’s happening in the streets
You’ve sold your dreams and bought an education
Educated yourself but haven’t learnt anything.”