Mandeep Sethi

Mandeep Sethi - Fearlessly addressing issues in today's society

How have you been an active Sikh throughout the years?

Growing up, I attended the Ujjaldidar Singh Memorial Foundation in Los Angeles, where I learned to play harmonium and tabla, as well as speak, read, and write Punjabi. With the Foundation, I did kirtan at numerous events, as well as volunteer at different causes within the city, particularly on Skid Row. The Foundation helped me realize my roots and the true meaning of a community, as it classes were held in different peoples' houses and taught by volunteers.

What influenced you to start emceeing?

I used to write poetry when I was younger, and my English teacher in the 8th grade asked us to put our poetry to music. I linked up with my friend Philip Seong, and from there started emceeing and making hip-hop music. Listening to real hip-hop, like Das FX, KRS-One, and Freestyle Fellowship among others, I was inspired to make sure I stay true to the roots and origins of hip-hop and its 4 elements. As well as emceeing, I involve myself in the other elements as well, practicing b-boying, and upping my game in graffiti and dj-ing. Hip-Hop is a culture that essentially defines my existence.

What is the message you try to get across?

The message I am trying to get across is that we live in a capitalist society where me must burn down the shackles that hold our minds and hearts captive, and fight against the oppression that systematically destroys people of color in the United States. I speak on such issues revolving around social justice, equality, and revolution. Revolution can only be achieved when we as a collective people realize our power, and our position in this white-dominant, hegemonic power structure. I also talk about issues that have to do with hip-hop, and the way that corporations have taken it over and spread it as a mysoginistic, bling-bling culture. I definetely incorporate the roots of the culture, as well as my roots as a Punjabi Sikh.

What can kids do to try and spread this message?

Kids around the world must be taught that everything they see on television, read in newspapers and magazines, and hear on the radio is placed there in a fabricated fashion, specifically pushing issues that are completely irrelevant to our lives. The first step is to get your source of news from somewhere other than the typical corporate news outlets, as they have ties to corporations and governments that are pushing racist and oppressive agendas. Kids, open your mind and understand that we see around on television is not reality, and is created to keep us in fear. Some trusted outlets for news include, the Guerilla News Network, as well as, a good site for independent news across the world.

What advice would you recommend for our upcoming generations of Sikhs?

To the upcoming generations of Sikhs, we must understand our roots while placing them in the context of the present, applying the same philosophies and teachings our Gurus passed on to us in a manner that is relevant to the struggles we are facing, wherever we are in the world. Understand that the government of India has historically oppressed our people is also key, as we must bring light to the issues of the 1984 Genocide of our community. We must keep our heads strong, and apply our knowledge in ways that we will only better ourselves.

Also, know that there are numerous outlets for your passions, and don't get stuck in a chase for money with your career. What happens to so many of our brothers and sisters saddens me, because in a quest for making "good money" to have a "stable career", we lose our understanding of ourselves and our passions. Stay independent-minded, and always keep an ear to the underground.


Have you done something recently to stand up for your rights? Do you have an inspiring story to tell other Sikhs? Would you like to serve as a role model for Sikh youth? If so, tell us about it here, and we may feature your story on Khalsa Kids’ “You’re Not the Only One” page. Your story can be used to help other Sikhs around the world.
Who are the Singh Twins?
The Singh Twins are professional artists that use their talent and passion to express their ideas and opinions. Learn about how Sikhi has influenced their masterpieces.
Who is Jagdeep 'J.D.' Singh?
Jagdeep 'J.D.' Singh is a competitive car racer who has a need for speed. Learn about his passion for cars and what matters to him most on and off the race track.

Who is Guru Singh?
Guru Singh is a Sikh actor and director who is taking his passion for theatre, movies, and music to professional levels. Find out about his artisic style and how he overcame obstacles as a Sardar in the entertainment industry!

Have you met Hoodini?
Jagmeet Singh a.k.a. Hoodini is a Sikh rapper who lives in Los Angeles, CA. Learn how he has used artistic expression to educate others about Sikhism.

Have you ever met a Sikh teacher?
Ajeet SIngh Matharu is a US History teacher at a high school in Brooklyn, NY. Check out his video and interview to see just how rewarding being a teacher is. He is proud to be Sikh and tries to use his profession to educate students and teachers alike about wearing a turban and being Sikh.

See More Interviews in our Interview Archive
Do you have a question about Sikhism that you need answered? We have experts taking your questions on a new topic every month. Then you can read the answer on the Khalsa Kids discussion forum.
Copyright © 2007 Sikh Coalition. All Rights Reserved
site designed by: Jesse Willmon