As a long-time observer of the Punjabi music scene, I had mixed feelings about Sidhu Moosewala when he first burst onto the scene with his hit song "So High." At the time, I couldn't quite understand the hype around him, and I wasn't a fan of the hip-hop beats and English lyrics in his Punjabi songs. However, as Sidhu continued to release more music, my perception of him began to shift. In this article, I want to share my personal experience of Sidhu's music and career, from his early days as a controversial artist to his tragic death in 2022. While some of my opinions may be unpopular, I hope to provide a nuanced and honest reflection on Sidhu's impact on the Punjabi music industry and his enduring legacy.
Sidhu Moosewala, a Punjabi artist from Moosa village in Mansa District of Punjab state in India, was a trailblazer who broke several records and collaborated with leading international artists. He was the only Indian artist who was followed by global sensation Drake. Basically, he was a generational talent who put Punjabi music in the mainstream.
In this article, I have divided my thoughts on Sidhu Moosewala's music and career into different parts.
Part-1: I'm not impressed. Not a fan
Part-2: Okay!!! Sidhu got some skills.
Part-3: Sidhu, Sidhu, Sidhu
Part-4: Return to India and the controversies
Part-5: More Sidhu. Topping charts is a routine
Part-7: No Name, The Last Ride, Levels
Part-8: His Demise
Part-9: The grief..
Part-10: The Legacy
Part-11: Move On!
Part-1 (I'm not impressed. Not a fan)
When Sidhu Moosewala (Subhdeep Singh Sidhu) first rose to fame with his song So High in the year 2017, I could not understand what the hype was all about. And I personally didn’t like his song even though his song was breaking records. The basic reason was, I could not comprehend why a desi guy (his looks in the video) was doing a song that was Hip Hop based. Also, I still am not a big fan of Punjabi artists using English words in their lyrics. I was also not a big fan of his vocals in that song as the melody was not based to highlight the vocal strength he had. Despite my reservations, "So High" turned the industry upside down, breaking records and becoming a banger.
I listened to his other songs like "G Wagon" and "Issa Jatt," but I still wasn't on the hype train. However, "Just Listen" stood out to me, and I appreciated the lyrics. For example, these lines still "Meri maa mera rabb jidi kukho hoya paida, jine zindagi jyon da sikhaya mainu kaida..."
Then came "All About You" which also didn’t appeal to me much.
Next came the song "Tochan" in 2018. This is where my perception of Sidhu changed and I played the song on repeat. I liked everything about this song. The "Famous" song was equally good to me and I played this song on repeat too.
I did not like the "Dark Love" song. To this day, I don’t play this song much.
Part-2 (Okay!!! Sidhu got some skills)
Then came 2 songs at the later end of 2018 which made me a fan of Sidhu. The first being "Warning shots", his reply to Karan Aujla's (who I considered a second-class act at that time) song "Lafafe" was a lyrical masterpiece. The second song was "Dollar". This song had everything, be it lyrics, vocals, or music. I remember this song was played everywhere. This is the time I became a fan of Sidhu Moosewala. The energy of the Dollar song is on a different level.
Part-3 (Sidhu, Sidhu, Sidhu)
I remember his songs were getting leaked a lot in the year 2018, and I was browsing all of the websites to find the leaked songs. Sidhu was everywhere in 2018. His songs like "Outlaw, Chosen, Legend, Cut Off, East Side Flow, Sidhu's Anthem, Hauli Hauli, and Sohne Lagde were big-time hits. Everyone wanted to collaborate with Sidhu to grab a piece of Fame. His first album "PBX-1" was also released during this time in the year 2018 and it got raving reviews. Sidhu even got a Brit Asia Music award for his album PBX-1.
Part-4 (Return to India and the controversies)
I remember that at the late end of 2018, Sidhu returned to India with a humungous fan following. His mother contested the Sarpanch elections of Moosa village and won. I thought he would go back to Canada but somehow, he stayed in India.
A controversy involving his song "Jatti Jeone Morh Vargi" started in late 2019 and certain groups demanded for booking Sidhu under IPC 295. Yes, the legendary song "295" is based on this particular incident. After the public apology, the controversy subsided.
At the beginning of 2020, Sidhu’s live on Instagram led to another controversy with singer “Babbu Maan". Nonetheless, subsequent to this controversy the gathering at his Akhada at Dirba in February 2020 is a testament to Sidhu's stature and his fan following.
Around May 2020, Sidhu’s controversy with his previous mates "Byg Byrd" and "Sunny Malton" started. I somehow felt that Sidhu was at fault, he was not acting like a guy with business ethics and he was a showoff. But this controversy also did not stop me from being Sidhu’s fan and listening to his songs.
Then came another controversy with some guy named Kanwar Garewal at the beginning of May 2020. Kanwar was releasing/leaking Sidhu's songs at that time. Sidhu shortly after released his unreleased/unfinished songs online on his official youtube channel in the form of his second studio album named “Snitches get Stitches". This album, though unfinished in studio mastering had some gems like "Bapu" and "Ajj Kal Ve".
Then came his song, "Dear Mama" on his mother's birthday on 15 May 2020 which was liked by people of all ages.
There was one more controversy linked to Sidhu in May 2020. A video of Sidhu using an AK-47 assault rifle in a police range surfaced. I felt it was uncalled for. I felt bad for Sidhu. He was booked under the Arms act by the police. But then he released the "Sanju" song. I thought to myself when Sidhu should be getting legal advice, he is releasing a song that glorifies his case.
But in a retrospect, now I think Sidhu was a symbol of Chardhi Kala. Despite of tumultuous 2019 and 2020, Sidhu never stopped and kept winning the hearts of his fans.
Part-5 (More Sidhu. Topping mainstream charts is routine)
Somehow, Sidhu sailed through the storm of the controversies surrounding him. I as a fan of his work did not dive into his controversies, and I enjoyed the songs he made. His songs like 47, Dhakka, Flex, Tibbeyan Da Putt, Bambiha Bole, My Block, Old Skool, and Punjab; I have played them all on repeat. But I felt he was getting repetitive with his ideas. All of his songs started sounding the same to me.
And I was wrong, Sidhu was not going to stop anytime soon.
He made history by releasing his Album "Moosetape" in May 2021. Everything about this album was different and unconventional. Releasing an album with more than 30 songs, releasing a song every other day, the vibe, everything had a new element to it. This album had songs like Bit*ch im Back, Burberry, Rack and Rounds, US, Brown Shortie, These Days, Aroma, Goat, Regret, G-Shit, Calabose, 295, IDGAF, Malwa Block, Built Different, Celebrity Killer, B&W, Power, Me and My Girlfriend, Invincible. As Sidhu said, this was not an album, it was a season. His fame rose to monstrosity, transcending political boundaries.
Even though I was a big-time fan of Sidhu, I would not ask my non-Punjab friends to listen to his songs, maybe because I think his lyrics up to Moosetape were a tad bit aggressive.
And then one fine day, we got the news that Sidhu had joined the Congres party and would be contesting the State Assembly elections of 2022 from Mansa District. People despised him for joining congress, but I was unaffected by his decision because a party is never good or bad, the people representing the party are good or bad. I liked his decision, that he wanted to be a political voice for the people of Mansa and wanted to develop his district further. I was also impressed by some of his personal traits, he was living at his home in the village of Moosa, He was doing farming along with his artistic works and He gave the respect and recognition that his parents deserved. But like, Sidhu, even I was let down when Sidhu lost the elections. I felt he should have won the elections and it was a wrong decision on the part of us Punjabis to not stand with him when he was trying to stand for us all. I also feared that this May be the end of Sidhu's musical carrier as many other artists preceding him, who got into politics lost their musical carrier. The songs released by him during this period (Youngest in Charge, Scapegoat, Fu*ck em all) were limited and were not as commercially successful as his previous offerings. The "Scapegoat" song was a reply by Sidhu to the people he banked on during elections, those who criticized him for joining the Congress party, and those who let him down. But, life went on, and I felt Sidhu was transitioning into yet another Punjabi artist who had his 2 minutes of fame. But, I was wrong again.
Part-7 (No Name, The Last Ride, Levels)
Next came an EP in April 2022, which changed my perception of Sidhu all together. This album was featured on the Billboard chart, without any promotions, and without any videos. 2 songs, in particular, struck a chord with me. The first was "Never Fold" and the second one was "Everybody Hurts". Never Fold shook the foundations of everything Punjabi are associated with in history which is Heer Ranjha, Mirza Sahiban, and other lovers. Sidhu said we people are from a land where we don't have Ranjhas and Mirzas, we belong to the community of people where people like Jeona Morh and Succha Soorma are born, and he was right, both of these legends belong to the Malwa belt and specifically to Mansa-Bathinda region, from where Sidhu belongs. I loved every bit of this song and played it on repeat whenever I got spare time. While Never Fold talks about the self-respect Sidhu believes in, "Everybody Hurts" is a song that covers a topic, I don't remember any established Punjabi artist who has dared to either write or perform. It talks about Depression and Suicide. It was from this song, I felt Sidhu has evolved, he got mature, and he got even better. There was another song by Sidhu named "Satisfy" which was released in November 2021 that provided an early insight into his evolving lyrical ability. Then came his song "The Last Ride" on 15 May 2022. This song also had very intriguing lyrics, and many did not liked it when it was released because it talked about death. But somehow, I loved the song despite of the subject Sidhu chose to write and perform. The lyrics of this song were also very thought-evoking. Now was the time when I felt, Sidhu had transcended to another level, where we as his fans would be getting songs that are beyond guns glory, which are based on important subjects which need to be brought into the light. His song "Levels" release a week before his demise was vintage Sidhu. I liked it, but not as much as his EP "No Name" and his single "The Last Ride".
Part-8 (His Demise)
Then came 29.05.2022. The news of his death shocked the music industry and his fans all around the world. Many fans and fellow artists expressed their grief and condolences on social media. Sidhu's sudden death was a huge loss to the Punjabi music industry, as he was one of the most popular and successful artists of this time. His fans mourned his death and remembered him as a talented and innovative artist who pushed the boundaries of Punjabi music.
Part-9 (The Grief)
The death of Sidhu Moosewala left a deep impact on the Punjabi music industry and his fans. Many fans and fellow artists were grief-stricken and expressed their condolences on social media. Sidhu's funeral was attended by thousands of fans and well-wishers who paid their last respects to the artist. Many artists and fans also organized concerts and events to honor his memory and pay tribute to his contribution to Punjabi music. Sidhu's legacy will continue to inspire and influence future generations of Punjabi music artists.
Part-10 (The Legacy)
Sidhu might have left his mortal form, but his voice still lives amongst us, his fans. His released and unreleased songs are now a treasure for his fans. The 2 songs i.e. SYL and Vaar released post Sidhu’s demise have broken international charts. People have now started realizing (what I realized with "No Name") that Sidhu had just started, the songs released till now were just a trailer to his actual performance. While "SYL" talks of crucial issues of Punjab state like Land waters, imprisoned Sikhs, sovereignty, etc; "Vaar" is a religious song that sings of the glory of Sikh General Hari Singh Nalwa. It feels sometimes, that we as Punjabis have been robbed of the treasure that Sidhu Moose Wala was. SYL and Vaar give me a feeling that Sidhu had huge potential yet unlocked inside of him which would have been released in a couple of years. Nonetheless, Sidhu Moosewala is living in our hearts and he shall live till the time Punjabis are living. He was like a storm that came all of a sudden, rambled us all, and then left us as quickly as it came.
Sidhu’s fame and popularity have only grown after his demise. His followers on Instagram stand at more than 12 million and are only growing. His songs So high, Tochan, Legend, Goat, Tibetan da putt, The last ride, Bambiha Bole, Old Skool and 295 have more than 200 million views on YouTube.
The only regret is, that we fans got very little time to enjoy our lives with Sidhu Moosewala. I know, his father said that he has many songs of Sidhu that he will be releasing in the coming 5-10 years and that's a statement that gives us a little relief from the deep bruise we got when Sidhu left us. I also hope that those actually responsible for the killing of Sidhu are brought to justice and his parents can also get some kind of relief after that. Sidhu was an artist who refrained to sing songs on alcohol, drugs, and girls.
Part-11 (Move On)
There is no one at Sidhu's level in the current music industry. Sidhu Moosewala was and will be a legend in our hearts. Sidhu is an idea and a revolution. Sidhu is immortal. I don't think we fans need to move on as there is a lot of him yet to come/release in the future. He rightfully said in his “The Last Ride” song, "Mooseaala jyonda hi amar ho gya, lakh aaian jagg te awajaan mitthiye".