Apache Indian – Chok There

Release Date: Mar 93
Chart Position: 30

By 1993, Apache Indian was clearly the hardest working man in Neggae. A one- Bhangramuffin hit machine, he was churning out 90s reggae-dance platters at a rate of one every three months. Quite simply, he made 64 era Beatles look like Stereo MCs.
Chok There is at the Bhangra end of Bhangragga. On the Bhangragga sliding scale, here is where I would put it:

His vocal delivery is irie, and the bassline skanks well enough, but the rest of the song’s production has a distinctly Indian feel. The strings, chanting, tabla and strings all push this song firmly towards the Indian end. Being predisposed to reggae, I prefer his tunes with more of a JA feel (particularly the bluebeat influenced Boom-Shak-a-lak which we’ll hear more of later).
That said, I like the descending minor chords throughout (not dissimilar to I’m a Man) ,and the buildups/breakdowns are well orchestrated. The “Number one inna de Bombay chart”  refrain is very catchy (and I think an influence on another UK Asian rapper a few years later). The video is ace too. Driving a New York taxi round Southall, kids flyposting (a la Blues Brothers) and correct me if ‘m wrong but wasn’t that Don Letts towards the end?
Score: 5/10

Spiced up Apache Indian doing what he does best. For me this is his signature song and will forever always go hand in hand when you think of neggae and curried rap.
He’s fearless and intense in his delivery, a pioneer of his brand new stylie, that in my opinion is quite refreshing. The video is heavy on the Asian content which is to be expected. However, since we have a good understanding of Apache Indian and his bhangramuffin style it should be acknowledged that this “is what it is” and embrace it; a catchy tune, good beats and an Apache spreading the word that you don’t have to be from the islands to produce solid neggae!

I think we can all agree from Arranged Marriage that Apache has a pretty good sense of humour and it translates accordingly. I’m pretty sure this was another Woolworths of West Byfleet purchase, probably when Nick Birmingham was on pick and mix duty. It didn’t reach the dizzy heights that it may have deserved, a lackluster 30 should have cracked the top 10 as far as I’m concerned.
Score: Chok me up for a Vindaloo curry, me two papadoms and a cheeky 7/10
(Oh, if we are giving out marks for hair, his clean and crisp ‘do is up there. 8.5/10 for hair and intricate patterns.)

Apache Indian is somewhat of an Enigma isn’t he?
Born of Indian parents and raised in the ethnic melting pot that was the 80’s West Midlands, he would grow to almost single handedly create his own genre. Bhangra Muffin. After two forays’ into the UK charts with the superb “Arranged marriage” and the Maxi Priest collaboration “Fe Real” this ditty is some somewhat of a “steady eddie” track.
Musically it’s a chugger. Off beat is very Bhangra . Nice Tabla’s, nice Sitars, deep heavy bass line. It’s well constructed. It even progresses well with a slight crescendo and key change in the final third. Lyrically however, by his own standards this seems lazy. This has more of a self lauded US Hip Hop style to it and I feel that that was the purpose of this track. To make waves across the pond.
Its standard fare for Apache Indian. “Number 1 in the Bombay Charts” is his opening gambit and beyond that the song doesn’t really have as much of a story to it, not as much depth lyrically as “Fe Real” or “Arranged marriage”. In fact I cant help but feel there isn’t a great deal of realism about it.
Take the video for example. It shows Apache cruising around in a New York Yellow Cab with a couple of kids flyering guerrilla style around the streets. At first you could be forgiven for thinking this was shot in Staten Island, or East Village, but then on closer inspection…. is that a BT Phone box? Hang on, that cars got an English Number plate… what’s going on?
It feels as though it’s shot in black and white to create not only a contrast with the vibrant club scenes (which works), but also to hide the fact that this is low budget UK pop video from Island Records. The cheeky poster stating Apache Indian , Live and Direct from 1 Ragga Street Birmingham seems to pay homage to roots, but that’s as far as it goes. The rest of this exercise is an attempt to make Apache more accessible to the American Mainstream market. The final scene only drives this point home further. Apache Leaving the Tardis club ( probably a terraced house in Solihull), spotlights going crazy, being mobbed by adoring brothers and ushered into his yellow cab before he gets Jacked yo! It doesn’t quite add up, kind of kills it a bit for me.
It would appear however that the track and video did serve their purpose. The Indian would go on to tour with an array of UK and US artists alike. Boys II Men., Jazzy B, Teddy Riley, Pras, General Levy, Sly and Robbie, would stand in line in the years that followed.
Fair play to the Apache, but in the larger scheme of Neggae and by his own standards, not one to remember.
Score: Its a 5 from me.

The intro is promising, but after ten seconds it’s reached its apex and goes into rapid decline. After the nicely blended ‘Arranged Marriage’ this comes smashing into you with subtlety of a Benjamin Massing tackle, with the same results – red card Apache, you’re off son. I’m making an assumption that by this point he’s had a bit of money chucked at him and has gone a bit like Richard Madeley in the wine aisle, grabbing everything he can and chucking it in the basket, whether there was room for it or not. The whole thing’s unispiringly average, from production to lyrics, particularly his Peter Sellers tribute half way through the song.
The video seems to have him driving around Southall in a New York Taxi cab whilst dressed as Rambo, then suddenly it switches from Black and White to colour and we find purselves in the Dance Energy Studio crossed with a seventies Indian restaurant. Unfortunately they didn’t feel the need to get Normski involved which may well have saved this.
Score: 4/10 – A big nah mon from me.

On the whole I like AP, however I do not feel this was his finest hour. Its too far down the Bhangra end of the spectrum for my liking and although I appreciate a market for it, its not for me. As it starts and the bass line ramps up it fools you into thinking it has got promise, but it soon lets you down and settles into a repetitive pattern that becomes boring very quickly.  The song does not develop at all and if anything gets worse. I can see how it was a dance floor filler but I wouldn’t waste any of my signature shapes on it. At best to would get a comical side to side head wobble.
 As for the video; that club can’t be in that house, it’s too small. Why is he knocking round London in New York cab? The flyers the kids hand out to the local chicks in the street reminds me of the ones you find at the Tasty Jerk Chicken Hut outside Selhurst Park as I imagine they are of similar content.  Loads of Booty, loads of Champagne, loads of white trainers, base ball caps with the tags still on, all of that, the full works. Despite it being a little nonsensical it does not bother me and is actually a little light relief from the repetitive seemingly never ending song in the background.
 Score: 3/10– next time I’ll have a take away



2 thoughts on “Apache Indian – Chok There

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