Fun-Da-Mental is a multi-ethnic, British Islamic world fusion and ethno techno band formed in 1991. The style of the group mixes Eastern and Western musical and cultural influences, featuring British dance club electronics, Indian, Afro-Caribbean, and worldbeat samples. Their style of music also "includes a vast mix of Indian classical and popular film music, Morrocan Eastern drum beats, Qawwali sounds, Islamic chants, and the ingenious interweaving of dialogue from famous Hindi movies."
Thematically, Fun-Da-Mental is concerned with social justice, particularly in regard to Britain's treatment of its Asian and Afro-Caribbean citizens. Though their lyrics may be extreme and extremely left-wing, they try to educate the British youth about the presence of Islam and the cause of extreme behavior. Fun-Da-Mental expresses their concerns of social justice by sampling the voices and rallying speeches of historically significant leaders from the past such as Gandhi, Malcolm X, and the Black Panthers.
Islam plays a large role in their anti-racist campaign lyrics. They have performed at antiracist events, like benefits, carnivals, concerts, and rallies. They are leaders that keep issues about the asian population relevant to this events. They actively appear on different television shows in the UK to debate. The links to those can be found on their myspace page. They do, however, promote militancy and self defense through the lyrics of their songs.
Musically, Fun-Da-Mental borrowed extensive samples from Indian film music, particularly from the string sections. Through their juxtaposition with hip-hop rhythm tracks and angry raps, such samples are reconfigured, and a new hybrid Asian identity is emphasized. The band's use of "Indian Sounds" as symbolic of certain experiences for second-generation British Asians.
Fun-Da-mental is one of the first groups in the Bradford community, Britain that came to light to defend the Muslim community. Aki Nawas best known as Propa Gandhi is the lead rapper, who formed the group in 1991. This group expressed through lyrics their Islamic and ethnic pride, as well as the political issues Muslims face in Britain. Propa Gandhi adds a unique style to the group by incorporating the Qu’ran into his songs. Muslims are oppressed because of their religion. Therefore, the group aims to express the hardships Muslims experience due to the rejection of the government. Moreover, they engage in explaining though their lyrics the beauty of being Muslim. Fun-Da-mental reached a large population of Muslim youth that lived the same situation.
The themes of their raps and spoken samples were concerned with Asian and British Asian issues. The name of the band reflects this -- it is a controversial invocation of Islamic fundamentalism, even while the hyphens in the name indicate another purpose, that of combining pleasure ('fun') with thought ('mental'). The band's symbol is a crescent, this not only invokes the sense of Islam, but also of the Pakistani flag. Aki Nawaz's (a member of the band) mother was one of the leading activists for Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party.
The music of the Fundamentals in many cases can be seen as a representation of the Nation of Islam in combination of being pro-black and anti-racist. The fundamentals take many key historical beliefs of black men in the United States including Malcolm X. "I am a soldier named Alaha,so put down the cross and pick up the X" A high sense of the black power movement, much of the music seems very chaotic and powerful, which represents a similar sense change not only lyrically but musically as well.
Fundamental's Aki Nawaz discovered rap later and found that rap's politics were much more sorted than was its music. He also states that:
We have always been about information and not messages - discussion and debate as opposed to ranting", he states. "It's always been about destroying all the stereotypical ideas about us and others and fighting against the preconceived misconceptions of a host society that has been poisoned by the past.
It is ironic that though Fun-Da-Mental showed greater allegiance to black nationalism, they found greater recognition and fan base amongst white audiences and institutions. Their appeal was more towards white student populations than to the less educated urban poor that are addressed by hardcore rap. As a result, the band was granted considerably more coverage in the student-oriented British music press than any other British rap act.
Fun-Da-Mental is heavily inspired by the Nation of Islam, taking lyrics from the holy book itself, the Qur'an , more so than by North African or Middle Eastern Islamic Movements. In the song “President Propaganda”, Fun-Da-Mental’s lyrics rely on the rhetoric of the Nation of Islam to send anti-Western messages. The lines “you had us whipped, raped, and lynched/Took away the Quran, you gave us the Bible” allude to issues such as slavery and religious persecution. Although Fun-Da-Mental is best known for being an Asian band, Aki Nawaz insists that their ultimate goal is to inspire white people. He states that “it's the white folks who need to rebel against their own ignorance - racism is their problem, economic terrorism is their problem, pollution is their problem - everything that is going wrong they have a hand in - they have an influence in - with all that is wrong in the world they are lucky to be dominating.”
Although they relate to American radical groups, Fun-Da-Mental’s political lyrics focus on Asian and British Asian issues within their society. Rapper Aki Nawaz mentions, "It's always been about destroying all the stereotypical ideas about us and others and fighting against the preconceived misconceptions of a host society that has been poisoned by the past". The group's messages have become internationally known, as the group has collaborated with artists from Pakistan, South Africa, and Siberia.
Fun-Da-Mental's first album, 'Seize the Time' was adopted from the Black Panthers slogan. The group is heavily influenced by the American Black Power movements from the 1960's. Not only do they rally cries from the Black Panthers, but also from such political leaders as Gandhi, Malcolm X, and Louis Farrakhan. "Fun-Da-Mental articulates eclectically a kind of militant Islamic-influenced, pro-Black anti-racist identity politics." Fun-Da-Mental takes pride in their militant stance, stating "We are hard politically, uncompromising musically and we won't be led by marketing angles. We try to give people a bit of confidence. People have to start educating themselves, respecting themselves."
In this time period of post Bhangra music many groups emerge with this style of Hip-Hop known as conscious rappers. Common themes seen in such a style are very politically based within the sense of race and the Asian identity. “Identity politics is reactionary in fostering as apolitical, a materialist and subjectivist point of view, and that it produces a personalized politics that is inward-looking.”
"Seize the Time" was the name derived from the Black Panthers slogan. Fun-da-mental opened doors of controversy by supporting a pro-Black, anti-racist set of politics heavily inspired by the Nation of Islam. In the track "President Propaganda" there was a pro-Islamic, pro-Black, anti-Western, and anti-White theme made obvious. This heavily mirroring the Black Power movement in the United States. Fun-da-mental displays their religious loyalty through this track (President Propaganda)and helps give the fundamentals of Islam a new meaning and interpretation for many.
In 1998, the group released Erotic Terrorism on Beggars Banquet Records.
Even before its release, the group's 2006 album All is War (The Benefits of G-had) has provoked controversy over its lyrical content.
The song "I Reject" on that album is a strong rejection of the perceived hypocrisy and immorality of the West and is a criticism of the Iraq War; "Che Bin" compares Osama bin Laden to Che Guevara; "Cookbook DIY" contains explicit lyrics about suicide bombings.
After a number of issues with the management of Nation Records over the content of the album, the record was finally released on August 7th 2006 as a download album, with a retail release on the Five Uncivilised Tribes label to follow.
Criticism has included The Sun calling him the "suicide bomb rapper", and two MPs have called for his arrest. The Observer review of the album said "Strip away the outrage, then, and what's left is an album pieced together with great consideration. To provoke not just a reaction but thought and debate.
In this time period of post Bhangra music many groups emerge with this style of hiphop known as conscious rappers. Common themes seen in such a style are very politically based within the sense of race and the Asian identity. “Identity politics is reactionary in fostering as apolitical, a materialist and subjectivist point of view, and that it produces a personalized politics that is inward-looking.”
As a group Fun Da Mental’s main view and issue is the fact that equality must be sought after and until it is reached than they will keep fighting for that cause “Until the philosophy that holds one superior and another inferior is finally and permanently dismantled and abandoned THERE SHALL BE WAR!”