One of a key group of trailblazers in the rising Asian cultural renaissance, London-based rising star Raf-Saperra talks to VIPER about his favourite mixtape of all time…

What’s your favourite mixtape ever?

I would have to say Hollowman & Dubz – ‘Ard Bodied’ (2007) hosted by DJ Big Ryde. Having said that, the mixtape I would say impacted me the most as a Punjabi would be a 31 track, non-stop, Punjabi mixtape titled ‘Power of Bhangra’ (2005).

Why is it so significant to you?

This was a compilation tape of some of the biggest names of Punjabi music. As a kid, my main plug for the Punjabi riddims was my mum, so if she wasn’t playing that artist’s work in the car or at home then chances are I wasn’t clued up on who they were; This tape changed all of that. It brought a whole catalogue of the biggest acts in Punjab. Dead and alive.  

Were there any artists or producers that you discovered through this tape?

I discovered a lot of artists and re-discovered some artists. Like “oh, he sang this?!” This then led me to checking who the original producer was and do my own digging into various discographies.

Where exactly were you when you heard the mixtape for the first time?

Back seat off my mum’s car! I heard the whole tape on the drive from west London to south London. She copped the tape from Southall; huge Punjabi community there. Believe it or not – buying music was still a thing in 2005! You’d be walking down the busy hustling and bustling Broadway, past music shops where merchants would be blasting music from their shops. If you liked what you heard, you’d pull up to the shop, pick the tapes or CD’s you want, get the shop owner to blast it from the speakers, if you liked it you copped it. Music consumption has changed a lot since. I’m glad I got to see the tail end of that age of music.

Did it come into your life at a significant time?

It strangely came at a time when my Punjabi music consumption was at its lowest and UK Rap and Grime consumption was way higher. 

How did the mixtape cover make you feel?

Made me feel: we need some more girls in here. There was hella man on the front cover.

Describe the mixtape in three words?

Bouncy. Nostalgic. Hype.

What song is your personal favourite?

Rather than a song I like how the tape flows. From track 1-17 it’s just pure madness and smoothly takes you into the next track. This is something I implemented in my own debut mixtape ‘Ruff Around the Edges’ – I wanted music listeners to know it’s safe to leave it on auto-pilot from track 1 to the end.

If you could put a price on this mixtape, how much would you pay?

For me it’s priceless. I can’t put a number on it but I’d pay good money despite the fact the front cover says “maximum retail price 42 Rupees,” [laughs]! 

Did you have a physical copy? 

Fuck yeah. Still do.


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