Rekha Malhotra has been DJ’ing for more than a decade, and she is widely recognized as a prime motivator behind the rising influence of bhangra and Indian music on U.S. club culture. So it’s somewhat hard to believe that Basement Bhangra
is her first full-length mix CD. And, considering how groundbreaking Rekha’s been, it’s also puzzling how few surprises she dishes up on the disc. While the Bikram Singh/Wyclef Jean collaboration on “Basement Bhangra Anthem” is an interesting enough introduction, much of this mix feels as if its maker is in ambassador mode. Though none of the cuts are bad (or even mediocre), they all feel somehow safe
, which is instantly at odds with the sweaty, dhol
-driven vibe of the dance nights DJ Rekha is renowned for. Punjabi percussion blends cleanly with hip-hop beats on all of the tracks, and Rekha’s mixing style is relatively hands-off, allowing the driving, bass-heavy tunes to stand on their own. But after waiting so long for a tangible representation of the DJ’s now-legendary nights, Basement Bhangra
proves that fans might have to make the trip to Manhattan to really take in the vibe.