A musical outfit named after Gen Osmani

Ansar Ahmed Ullah

A DJ collective and a sound system called ‘Osmani Soundz’ came into being in the late 1980s in London. Osmani Soundz’ s lead man was Shohid who has been working in the music industry for the last 30 years. Shohid, his full name Abdul Shohid Jalil, was born in East London in the early 1970s. He grew up in Brick Lane, Bethnal Green and Whitechapel area of East London also known as Banglatown.

He started DJing at a youth club called PYO (Progressive Youth Organisation) and put a group together of about twelve young people, boys from school and two girls from the youth club, dancers, singers, rappers, and graffiti artists calling themselves ‘Osmani Knights’. The Knights were named after Bangladesh’s Liberation War Commander Col Osmani. The suggestion of the name of the group came from some elders of the community who saw the support they gave towards other youths in the area. The youths were involved in gangs and also fighting racism through music events. The aim was to bring people together. 

Shohid first started DJing back in 1988 and has been making cutting edge electronic music for more than two decades. A pioneer in the UK Asian Underground scene, his eclectic style blends western and eastern electronica, leading the way for Eastern drum and bass, experimental breakbeats and dubstep.

Osmani’s earliest release was one of the first Asian Drum and Bass Anthems “Spiritual Masterkey” (1994) and later that was re-released and featured on Talvin Singh’s compilation, Anokha Soundz Of The Asian Underground on Island Records Uk (1997) and since then he has had heaps of record releases to his name.

Early in 1990’s he ran club nights in Hoxton Shoreditch venue known as the Bass Clef, before it became known as Blue Note and a trendy part of the East End. During 1996 and onwards he worked with the likes of Talvin Singh & State of  Bengal and had a club residency at the famous Anokha club night at the Blue Note Hoxton Square on  Monday nights.

As a music producer and a DJ,  he works with Electronic music, Drum and Bass, Dubstep, and Experimental sounds. He also uses different Bengali instruments like ektara, tabla, flutes, dhol and film samples in his music, fused with his current electronic dance music.

Shohid says that he is not a trained musician but works by ear and occasionally has help from classical musicians sometimes who he works with to guide him on projects. Sometimes he uses words and lyrics from records he samples. He has Performed with Nitin Sawhney at the Royal Albert Hall. Time to time he has been commissioned to make music for dance company’s such as Tara Arts and dancers like Veena Ramphal and Spitalfields and Trafalgar Square festivals. He also Headlined Jaipur international music festival India back in 2005.

A Winner of the Brit Asia TV Music Awards (The Nasha Experience) for Best Alternative Act in 2011 this award highlighted the importance of the sound and creativity and his influence on the industry and on the genre.

He is a part of Nasha Records and Hundred colours music, both fusion dance record labels. He is also a founding member of the Nasha Experience group. Other members are Ges-e, Sukh Knight Shandy and Nuphlo and also Hundred Colours Music record label dedicated to releasing nu-skool, futuristic, cutting edge Eastern Electronic music. He has been producing tracks for the new Nasha Records album Nasha V4 the fourth album which should be released by the end of this year 2019.

When asked about Bengali music Shohid said he does not fully understand the Bengali musical styles but as a producer if he has the right musicians who understand the styles, he can learn from them, use them as a guide to work and create the Western and Bengali fusion. He is a sample based producer. He sometimes extracts sound off old Bengali records from the 1960s/ 1970’s and 1980’s. Often melodies and samples are chopped and shuffled around and used in various ways that one cannot recognise the original but becomes his own version.

He used to borrow records from the local Whitechapel library  to sample them. He picks up records from record fairs and various places he visits, occasionally some records of Kolkata origin and soundtrack of film records. Nowadays he accesses recordings from YouTube and the Internet. He tries to get permission from the original artists to use samples off their songs, but this can be difficult at times but he always credits them on the release.

If he visits Bangladesh, he will contact his friend Habib (Wahid), now a huge super-star in Bangladesh. Habib worked with Ges-e, Osmani Soundz and The Nasha Experience in the early stages of his career here in the UK. His musical influence is in a track called Ajaa which is an instrumental dance track that was released on Eastern Drum and Breaks Vol 1 compilation album in 2003.

Shohid wrote a percussive piece called Village Vibez on the same album where he used very percussive rhythms and not so much western influence. In other tracks he uses small dosages and hints of Bengali instruments.

When asked about his audience he feels the younger generation of Bengalis understand his music but maybe not the older generation. The music is physically stimulating and feels there is a spiritual dimension to his music. He has had more response from Western audience on the whole. He feels maybe he needs a little longer, or maybe he doesn’t have enough substance to really connect with a Bengali audience. He has a huge following in Europe and the USA and Indian audiences are his latest involvement.

His future plans include more recordings, an Album, Remixes and EP’s which you can here some on his Soundcloud site https://m.soundcloud.com/osmani-soundz And his recent hour long mix was for DnB India. https://www.mixcloud.com/OsmaniSoundz/

Also, Osmani Soundz appeared on BBC Asian Network Radio alongside Ges-e on hosting a Radio show called Electro East on many occasions.

OSAMNI SOUNDZ tracks are available on http://soundcloud.com/osmani-soundz https://twitter.com/osmanisoundz http://www.youtube.com/osoundz, NASHA RECORDS https://twitter.com/Nasharecordshttp://soundcloud.com/Nasharecords

NASHA EXPERIENCE https://facebook.com/Nashaexperience/ and HUNDRED COLOURS MUSIC https://soundcloud.com/hundredcoloursmusic https://facebook.com/hundredcoloursmusic/

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