Sidhu Moose Wala, a Sikh born rapper turned politician whose songs racked up more than 5 billion views on YouTube in less than 4 years. While driving near his home in India, Sidhu was shot and killed execution style on 29th May. He was only 28 years old.
Legends never Die. 💔. RIP SIDHU MOOSE WALA. Shit Still don’t feel real. pic.twitter.com/0j6silx0gW
— Burna Boy (@burnaboy) May 30, 2022
Over thundering trap and drill beats often laced with samples of Punjabi music. Moose Wala rapped about gun violence, gangs, and his rags-to-riches story in a rich, soaring voice. For Moose Wala’s millions of fans, the tragedy is deeply personal. Let’s look at his short career.
U DONEEEEEEE ????? pic.twitter.com/96sCDt4rqj
— Sidhu Moose Wala (@iSidhuMooseWala) May 10, 2022
In just four years, the 28-year-old rapper had become one of Punjab’s most ubiquitous hip-hop faces. Shabhdeep Singh Sidhu was born on June 11, 1993, in Moosa village, Mansa district, Punjab, India. In the fifth grade, he began singing folk songs by Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, an early 18th century Sikh general. He studied at Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College, Ludhiana and graduated in electrical engineering in 2016.
Moose Wala was influenced by rapper Tupac Shakur, he started listening to hip-hop music from the 6th grade and learned his musical skills from Harvinder Bittu in Ludhiana.
— Navaan Sandhu (@NavaanSandhu) May 29, 2022
He began writing songs for other musicians in Chandigarh’s Punjabi music industry in 2015 while he was still in college.
Sidhu moved to Brampton, Ontario, Canada after graduating and released his first track in 2017 – “G Wagon Feat Gurlez Akhtar and Deep Jandu”. In the same year, he collaborated with Sunny Malton and Byg Byrd, a Punjabi Music Director from Toronto, Canada on “TPM“. In this track, Sidhu refers to his American idol Tupac Shakur for the first time. As another breakthrough artist, Byg Bird would play a key role in creating a new sound that we know as Moose Wala.
Oh WAHEGURU🙏🏽 Heartbreaking news..Baut Talent C Munde Ch..Mai Kadey Mileya Ni c..Par Odi Mehnat Bol di C No Doubt. Parents Lai Baut Hard Aa..Baba Bhanaa Manan Da Bal Bakshey Parivaar Nu🙏🏽
Baut Bura Din Aa MUSIC INDUSTRY Lai 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/e5s1zIQjMa
— DILJIT DOSANJH (@diljitdosanjh) May 29, 2022
He wasn’t just a nobody, here today, gone tomorrow artist. As for his style, his passion, his brand, he had a passion for what he was doing. His raps had an air of edginess, capturing the nuances of life in Punjab. ‘Sidhu of Moosa,’ his stage name, represents a deep devotion to his village in Punjab, which he intentionally sought to elevate.
Among his other notable tracks were “Dollar” and “Famous”, with heavy bass lines and smooth, edgy vocals. In his songs, he highlighted the attitudes people had towards him, unlike his contemporaries who frequently emphasized women, alcohol, or drugs.
During 2018, he released outstanding anthems such as “Death Route” and the standout track “Just Listen” with 146 million views. With an emphasis on Punjabi low rolling vocals, Byg Byrd asks: “Why do they hate me?”.
“So High” is his signature anthem, which was performed using flutes and tumbis. The track was produced by Byg Byrd, who rooted it in hip-hop but added a bhangra flavour. The hook features Sidhu’s soaring vocals. With 500 million views, So High put him on the musical map. Byg Byrd music was his collaborator. There was chemistry between them. Sidhu’s powerful vocal performance is complemented by the production of Byg Byrd.
Taking influence from gangster rap, his music embodies gritty opulence. As a measure of life, he measured it in guns and fancy sports cars. His songs stood as an unvarnished commentary on the dark underbelly of the rural heartland, where drugs, crime, and corruption dominated the headlines.
During the Brit Asia TV Music Awards in 2018, he won the Best Lyricist award for “So High”; subsequently he released singles such as “Issa Jatt”, “Tochan”, “Selfmade”, and “Famous” and released his first studio album “PBX1” in October 2018.
In Canada, “PBX 1” charted on the Billboard Canadian Albums Chart. His singles have appeared on the global YouTube music charts six times, and the UK Asian music chart published by Official Charts Company ten times. Sidhu used the microphone to discuss Punjab’s socio-political issues and challenge the status quo beyond gun-referencing lyrics. Freedom fighters like him stood up for farmers during the 2020 protests.
What followed was one of the greatest musical collaborations you have ever witnessed. 2019 saw the release of “47” by London based rapper Mist, UK born Indian producer Steel Banglez and Stefflon Don, a British-Jamaican rapper and singer from London.
Shocked & devasted to hear about #SidhuMoosewala, a great talent gone too soon. May Waheguru give his family and loved ones strength in this tragic time 🙏🏻
Rest in peace!
— Sanjay Dutt (@duttsanjay) May 30, 2022
The track was what put his name on the world’s musical map, it was catchy, pure, and urban. The song peaked at No. 17 on the UK Singles Chart, becoming Moose Wala’s first entry on the chart. With an electric grime beat, the song is named after the AK-47 assault rifle. “My enemies call me AK-47,” Wala’s Punjabi hook is a warning to his adversaries. However, Walla was a person of humility and politeness beneath the bravado.
Although the Birmingham rapper is of Caribbean descent, Mist incorporated Punjabi slang into his bars. Growing up in a predominantly Asian community, he incorporates Punjabi vernacular into his music. Steel Banglez was raised in a Sikh family and draws inspiration from his Punjabi heritage in his productions. At the 2019 UK Brit Asia Awards, the team performed the song live.
— Neha Sharma (@Officialneha) May 30, 2022
Sidhu released a new track in 2019: “B Town”. Sidhu’s music often reflected his identity as a Punjabi Sikh immigrant in Canada. His 2018 song, B-Town, is a tribute to the city of Brampton and has had 40 million views on YouTube.
A replica of one of his debut tracks, he also appears on Music Producer Intense’s album “Exhale” on the track “Bhange Te Paane” with Indian vocalist Sharan Kaur Panesar. The theme of jealousy was also an overarching theme in the smash hit “Jatt da Mukabla”. “Don’t flutter so high, you birds, for if I want, I can buy the sky.”
— Anil Kapoor (@AnilKapoor) May 29, 2022
It wasn’t just hip-hop inspired bangers that he was putting out. A slower, rhythmic and romantic number about falling in love, “Chosen,” which he released with Sonakshi Sharma and Sunny Malton has garnered 54 million hits. Rapping was provided by Big Byrd, his partner in musical crime. Sidhu Moose Wala was also planning to wed his Canadian fiancée this year.
“East Side Flow,” another Moose signature track featuring Byg Byrd, garnered 83 million views in 2019. In his song, he sang about his haters, talking about him from behind their computers. Sidhu released a track called “Goli,” which means gun in English. The cover art showed Sidhu holding two shotguns. This song contains a sample from Notorious Big: “When I die, I want to go to hell”.
The collaborations continued with tracks like “Homicide” with Sunny Malton and Big Boi Deep. As a result of the constant news coverage of homicides, Sidhu sang about shootings, deaths, and homicides. Something which would later happen to Moose Wala.
Sidhu collaborated with Punjabi singer and songwriter R Nait in 2019 on a track called “Poison.” He also collaborated with Pakistani-American rapper and songwriter Bohemia on a track called “Same Beef.” In the end of the year, he completed another amazing collaboration with “Sohne Lagde” Feat the PropheC, a Canadian singer, songwriter, and producer.
Everyone wanted to work with Moose Wala; he wasn’t just the flavor of the month, he was the flavour of the decade.
— Babbal Rai (@BABBALRAI9) May 30, 2022
In 2020, Moose released signature bangers like “Bad” and “Cadillac”. He collaborated with artists such as Prem Dhillon’s “Old Skool” with 255 million views. Moreover, he released his second studio album, “Snitches Get Stitches” with a slower number: “Aj Kal Ve” featuring Indian singer Barbie Maan, proving his versatility once again.
The Guardian newspaper named him one of the most promising new artists of 2020. In the same year, he caught the attention of Canadian rapper Drake, who followed him on Instagram. When the rapper died, Drake shouted out the slain rapper on his Instagram stories. He rapped about destruction, self-praise, and rebellion in his songs, drawing upon his own experiences as a Sikh from a low-income background.
In 2021, Sidhu released a 32-track album titled “The Moosetape” that contained tracks such as “295”, coincidentally the date of his own death. Along with “Brown Shortie” and the bass heavy hip-hop urban banger “Calaboose” featuring Snappy on productions that garnered 54 million views.
After being arrested in Punjab, India for glorifying guns, Sidhu sang about his time on police bail. Photographs showing him firing an AK-47 rifle at a firing range led to his arrest under the Arms Act and the Disaster Management Act. Sidhu’s tracks “Bitch, I’m Back” and “Moosedrilla” topped the Billboard Triller Global Chart alongside global icons, such as Dixie, Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, Drake, and Lil Wayne.
Sidhu Moose Wala became one of the only Indian artists to enter the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 Chart with tracks from Moosetape. “Beyond excited to hit the Canadian Top 100 and to rank #1 on the Global Top Triller charts at the same time,” Sidhu said.“Grateful to my fans, supporters, and well-wishers on Triller for unending support. It’s an honour to see Punjabi music reach to newer heights and recognition.”
Rest in peace my brother Sidhu moose wala … thanks for everything! 🤍🙏🏾🕊 pic.twitter.com/75OjNP4yti
— 1DON (@stefflondon) May 29, 2022
A drill-inspired urban rap anthem by Moose was released in 2021. Another track to his fate is “Signed to God”, once again produced by London based Steel Banglez.
Many in the Indian music industry loved him. In 2021, “UnFuckWithAble” Feat Indian Punjabi playback singer Afsana Khan, and “US” Feat Indian American rapper, songwriter, and singer The Raja Kumari, and “Who’s Bad” a Remix track Feat British artist Jay Milli were released.
As a lead artist, Sidhu released two albums, one EP, and sixty-three singles. As a guest artist, he appeared in sixteen songs. According to legend, he once produced a song every week. During his short 4-year career. Moose Wala has 9.2 million Instagram followers and 11.6 million YouTube subscribers. In just four years, his music videos have received over 5 billion views on YouTube.
Also in February, Moose Wala received 36,000 votes in Indian state elections, coming in second. “I am not entering politics for status or to earn praise,” he said on the day he joined the party. “I want to become a part of the system to transform it. I am joining the Congress to raise the voice of the people.” Moose Wala joined Rahul Gandhi, the leader of one of India’s largest parties, the Congress party, in December of 2021. As Gandhi said, he entered politics because he believed he could change the system from within.
Ni Ehda Uthuga Jawani Cha Janaja Mithiye (The Funeral Will Happen In Youth) is from Moose Wala’s latest track,“The Last Ride”. In May, the song was released featuring the iconic crime scene where Tupac was killed in his BMW in 1996.
The cryptic messages of cremation suggest Sidhu felt some sense of his fate. Was he singing about his own death? The video shows Moose Wala singing, “Many hated him, and many died for him… everything is revealed in the boy’s eyes.” The video is shot in slick monochrome tones.
Tupac’s assassination site was used as the cover art for Sidhu’s video. Sidhu was inspired by the California rapper, and the track tapped into west coast G-funk sounds, mimicking a low-rider anthem. The piece opens with a sample of a news broadcast about Tupac’s passing in September 1996. Sidhu sings of his “Coffin being raised in his youth”.
His last song, which premiered just four days before his death, was titled “Levels” which may hold more cryptic clues to the singer’s demise. The message is that no one will be able to reach his level. It is true. Therefore, he accomplished so much in such a short period of time. Nobody else was able to do what he did; he elevated Punjabi music to new heights. Globally, he is a testament to panjabi and hip-hop music.
A youth icon who influenced youngsters to be good sons,respect women, work hard, be proud of their roots, to wear their turbans with honour, help others, to be humble but to always stand tall. He did ALL this and more by example. Be like #sidhumoosewala #JusticeForSidhuMooseWala pic.twitter.com/SO3Q0h48Jq
— Savera Sidhu (@SavKaur13) June 4, 2022
Tupac and Moose Wala’s deaths are uncanny, but why wasn’t he wearing a bulletproof vest as in his videos? I hope we will hear an album of unreleased material similar to Makaveli.
One of the greatest Punjabi artists of all time. Sidhu Moose Wala left behind a legacy that will never be equaled. In his urban Asian infused style, Sidhu came on the scene out of nowhere and elevated the Panjabi music genre. He didn’t do this for money or fame, but because he loved making music. His music embodied everything he stood for and he wanted to bring people together.
Sidhu’s death is reminiscent of that of his hero, rapper Tupac. It is the same heart wrenching pain we experienced. Sidhu was a singer, poet, and gentleman. Despite many saying that musical legends never die, Sidhu Moose Wala’s music will endure forever.
The power of Music pic.twitter.com/9BDFupfeGn
— Arshdeep Sandhu (Raavi) (@arsh11kaur) June 4, 2022