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Humble The Poet To Release New Album and Book

The Indo-Canadian hip hop artist is crowdfunding for the ‘UnLEARN’ project

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Anurag Tagat Oct 08, 2013
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Humble the Poet aka Kanwer Singh. Photo: Digitology

Humble the Poet aka Kanwer Singh. Photo: Digitology

It’s a bit difficult to find anything close to a boast from someone called Humble The Poet. Kanwer Singh, the Indo-Canadian hip hop artist from Toronto heads to India this month to play at the Bacardi NH7 Weekender festival in Pune at the Breezer Dubstation stage. In an email interview, Singh recalls his last performance in India in 2011, “Two days after doing the NH7 finale (in Pune) with Karsh Kale in front of 10,000 people, I was back in Toronto performing in front of 150, refusing to allow my energy to be anything less, and that crowd appreciated that.”

He’s now preparing for his new album, UnLEARN, and raising money (the campaign goal is C$24,000 or about Rs 15 lakh) via crowdfunding on Indiegogo. Crowdfunding, says Singh, is the future, and suited for someone who has fans scattered across the world. He adds, “This campaign has helped me put a face to these beautiful people and learn about who they are and where they’re from. This campaign has also cut out any middlemen who aren’t needed, which allows a stronger connection between myself and those who are the reason I’m succeeding.”

Building this connection with his fans began earlier in July this year for Singh when he released an e-book, titled UnLEARN: Butterflies and Lions. Says Singh, “I began to share free-write thoughts, unedited, with people on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr and they immediately connected to it.” Singh plans to release the book in a physical format in December, again with a little help from crowdfunding. In the book, Singh comes across as a persuasive, motivational speaker at times, with a chapter on accomplishments including lines such as these: “In my experience, you just need to shut the f*ck up and START.” UnLEARN: Butterflies and Lions also explores Singh’s personal experiences growing up as a Punjabi in Canada, encountering racial profiling, his views on Sikh saint Guru Nanak and self-belief, among other topics.

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Starting out five years ago on YouTube as a sketch comedy artist, shooting comedy episodes with friends (one character, Harman the Hater, had a grouse with everyone from girlfriends to Mac computers), Singh, who is also an elementary school teacher, slowly inched toward music and performance in 2010. The hip hop artist delivered hits like “Baagi Music,” off his 2010 debut album Humble The Poet Presents: -00.03, but adds that he wants to move beyond the success of “Baagi Music.” “With ”˜Baagi Music,’ I simply wanted to make a catchy song that also had some substance. Now, I’ve been able to refine that journey so people can enjoy the music on multiple levels, whether it’s simply to shake their bodies, or to shake their minds,” he says adding, “UnLEARN is simply the process of myself strengthening my relationship with reality. My goal with both the music and book is to enhance the connection between ourselves and reality.”

For his India show, Singh is currently collaborating with Mumbai dubstep artist Sound Avtar aka Piyush Bhatnagar. Adds Singh, “I also plan on crashing a Scribe session, as I’ve yet to see anyone with the energy of  [vocalist] Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy, I need to channel some of that. Performances in India are never about me, they’re solely about creating a moment.”      

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This article appeared in the October 2013 issue of ROLLING STONE India.

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