The British Asian underground music scene wasn’t all bhangra and reggae fusion. The Asian Dub Foundation introduced an innovative mix of garage rock, rap, and dub bass with their huge hit, “Naxalite.”
Story by Rumnique Nannar
Asian Dub Foundation’s “Naxalite” was the perfect encapsulation of political lyrics and the band’s anti-racist/anti-fascist stance. The group came together when bassist Aniruddha Das, aka Dr. Das, recruited bandmates DJ Pandit G, guitarist Chandrasonic, and rapper Deeder Zaman through Community Music, an educational music program. Their ethos was to create politically aware music that touched on race, culture, and identity in a way that no other British-Asian group had done before.
With “Naxalite” the band turned their attention to the 1960s uprising in West Bengal and the contemporary struggles that the rebel group were experiencing. ““Naxalite” was something we knew about, but it wasn’t something that we were necessarily that well informed about. So, we engaged in some research to flesh things out, as opposed our music just being us blurting out a gut reaction to things around us.” said Dr. Das in an interview with Innerviews.
The song brought them mainstream success with international acclaim – they opened for Beastie Boys and Radiohead that same year.