Houston's Indian Hip-Hop Community Has Plenty of "Swagger"

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The story of how a hip-hop video gets made, or comes to fruition, usually doesn't resemble the melodramatic storyline of a Bollywood flick, but Lil Flip's new video, "Swagger" - featuring Houston-born Indian-music artist Bobby Moon - exudes a bit of the drama of subcontinental cinema. Let us set the plot for you: A young, aspiring movie and video director finds himself elbowing and hustling his way into the power circles of the U.S. Desi and Houston hip-hop music scene, only to run into an Indian pop-singer close to giving up on a career comeback. The young man, who grew up on the icon's music, finds the financing, starts a music label, resurrects a career and they all live happily ever after. The happily ever after part might be a stretch. We're no psychics. But the rest is true. Houston native Akil A.K. Kurji, a 22-year-old director of low-budget movies, plans on making a name for himself in the hip-hop video scene with "Swagger." He produced and directed the video with platinum-selling rapper, Lil Flip. The rumor mill is that Lil Flip is also planning to launch an energy drink with Kurji. It's true. Lil Flip tweeted at 1 a.m. on Thursday: "@AkKurji ak is a real dude Game Over energy drink comin sooon!!! Ooops!!!:-)" We don't know about oops. It's looking like everything Kurji is getting his hands on is making some serious noise. He actually let Rocks Off be the first to feature "Swagger." You literally can't see it anywhere else but here. Houston-native music producer Jeff "JStarz" Ali produced "Swagger" with Moon on the hook in October 2008, according to Kurji, but the track stayed stagnant. Moon sold 2.5 million records overseas in the early part of this decade, but has struggled to follow up on that early success. Moon's comeback showed promise this year after hooking up with Akon for a track, but that song, "She Got Me High," leaked and his developing album lost steam. It was then that Moon was ready to call it quits. "Bobby said to me, 'I don't know if I have it in me anymore,'" Kurji tells Rocks Off. "I told him 'Bobby, let's give it one more chance. I'll back you up. You sold 2.5 million records at one point.'" It was then, in June 2009, that Kurji and his video production partner Nadeem Rajani of Cross Culture Productions in Houston put together their personal capital to invest into completing Moon's album, starting On the Mark Records. Thanks to JStarz, Lil Flip, who was looking for a fresh, pop-hit, bought into "Swagger" and Bobby Moon. Here's where Bollywood goes Hollywood. Kind of. Los Angeles-based Doggtown Entertainment Group executive Wayne "The Brianchild" Anderson was visiting Flip on the "Swagger" video shoot and caught a glimpse of Moon's, well, swagger, and "he fell in love with his talent," Kurji says. "I could see him being a star," Anderson told Rocks Off. Doggtown Entertainment Group is now working in partnership with On the Mark Records in promoting Moon's album and "upsizing" the project, but Kurji, nor Anderson, will disclose much more about the specifics of Moon's contract with Doggtown. Anderson did confirm that the legendary Snoop Dogg will serve as executive producer of Moon's project and will be featured on at least one track. You know, another Indian artist recently hit the big time. His name is Jay Sean. Lil Wayne took him under his wing and helped make him a hit. Bobby Moon might give Jay a run for his money, but Lil Wayne might just want to keep an eye out for Kurji. Houston's Indian community isn't anything to underestimate when it comes to hip-hop.

Rolando Rodriguez is managing editor of www.redbrownandblue.com. Email him at Rolando@redbrownandblue.com.

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