“This record is a call to action against the various inequalities and injustices that we’re seeing,” Jain says. “We desperately need citizen engagement in response to those injustices.”
So how does a raucous, marching band-style outfit that mixes South Asian bhangra with elements of hip-hop, jazz, funk and punk do that?
It all started with the title track, “the central force of the record” that combines “traditional Indian music and insurrectionary hip-hop, centering around a politically-charged rap by Heems, one half of Swet Shop Boys (with Riz MC) and formerly of the Brooklyn hip-hop group Das Racist.
“It’s hard to escape saying something about the time we’re living in,” Jain says of the track, which was constructed from disparate ideas about the South Asian diaspora, migration and the current political climate. Jain co-produced the album with Little Shalimar, known for his work with hip-hop group Run the Jewels. Listen to the track below:
While band’s sonic tapestry centers around its six person collective that includes drummer Chris Eddleton on drums, guitarist Jonathan Goldberger, saxophonist Jonathon Haffner, trumpeter Sonny Singh and sousaphone player John Altieri, Jain is its sonic fulcrum.
It all starts with the dhol, the double-headed Indian drum that Jain wears strapped around his chest, a mobile drum that he pounds with a pair of bamboo drum sticks, laying down the rhythm much as he remembered seeing in an uncle’s wedding procession, or “baraat.”
Appropriately, Red Baraat concerts often begin with a procession to the stage, providing a jolt of adrenaline to a crowded dancefloor from within.
“I just wanted a band of drums and horns that was mobile, that could jump down and get in the mix with an audience and jam,” Jain told WBUR in Boston. “And I wanted to play more upbeat music. I wanted to play music that people could dance and party to.”