Melody Maker | Advance | 9 May 1992 | Photo: Stephen Sweet
"Forget the image of Asians as passive, happy people," begins Prince Haq, MC with Fun-Da-Mental, a Bradford group who are fast making a name for themselves as the Asian Public Enemy. "Listen man, there are gangs of young Indians and Pakistanis like us on the streets of Bradford, Birmingham, Manchester, everywhere, who refuse to put up with the shit our parents and grandparents have lived with for years. We want changes – big changes – and we want them now."
Also known as The Propa-Gandhi Machine, once Prince Haq starts to rant, there's no way of stopping him.
"But this group aren't just speaking for Asians in Britain, we're speaking for all non-whites all over the world. Black people have been fucked over for centuries and it has to end. If the western powers don't back off, we are heading for one huge war. Maybe not just yet, maybe not for another 20 years, but at some stage in our lifetime."
It's easy to see why Fun-Da-Mental have been causing a stir since their debut at last summer's Notting Hill Carnival. With Haq and ragga rapper Bad-Sha Lallaman leading the proceedings, their live performances are more like political rallies than gigs. Samples of Louis Farrakhan, Malcolm X and Enoch Powell's infamous "Rivers Of Blood" speech, and the fact that a couple of the group dress like PLO fighters further fuel the excitement.
Following a string of explosive one-off gigs, Fun-Da-Mental have now released their first single, the double A-sided "Janaam" and "Righteous Preacher". DJ Obeyo's cutting and scratching of Arabic melodies fleshes out the hip hop drums and tabla player Goldfinger adds bhangra beats. But the tracks have not been welcomed by their community elders and the group were recently banned from the two Asian music TV shows. As well as being unhappy with their Islamic chanting and the extracts from The Koran in "Janaam", the programme producers were livid at the fact that "Righteous Preacher" openly supports the fatwa against Salman Rushdie.
"Even though I'm a Sikh, I agree with my Muslim brothers that Rushdie has to face the consequences of what he has done," says Goldfinger. "Until you understand the importance of religion in our culture, you will not understand how much this man has hurt us. And Rushdie's actions haven't just affected Asians. Who do you think is paying to house and protect the bastard?"
"The British government talks about freedom of speech for Rushdie, but how about freedom of speech for Farrakhan?” snorts Haq. “Why is he banned from this country when Le Pen gets the red carpet treatment? Le Pen is no better than Hitler and you have to realise the terror of black and Jewish people at the rise of the right wing in France and Germany. The Jews were compensated for their suffering under the Nazis by being given a homeland, but what about the blacks? What have we ever had? It's time to redress history, time to take what we deserve."
However tough the talk, Fun-Da-Mental are adamant that their pro-black stance is not racist. The suggestion that they are open to this criticism is greeted with contempt.
"The truth is that we're anti-power, not anti-white," snaps Haq. "We're fighting against the people who sit in mansions in the Home Counties while little kids all over the world starve to death. We're fighting against the people who are destroying the environment for greed, the people who are fucking you over as much as us. And we're gonna win, man. We're gonna win well."