The kid on the label might have been made up, but the cookie's influence on my life is not. In 2011, while recording Das Racist’s debut album Relax, I was concurrently working on my first solo project, the Nehru Jackets mixtape. While proud of the work Das Racist was putting out, as someone with Indian roots, I was often frustrated with looking out at a crowd that consisted mostly of white people. I couldn’t understand why they were into this music, often made at their expense. But I was content with the idea of turning white guilt into green dollars for brown people.
At the same time, I wanted to make work that was accessible to my community. So I set out to record a record that incorporated the genres I grew up around: boom-bap rap, Bollywood, and dancehall reggae. I thought of the sounds at a red light in Queens, New York when the cars stopped and the songs escaped from their windows blending into a cacophony that didn’t make sense on the surface but somehow felt just right. I also thought of the mixtapes I grew up with, where Indian wedding DJs mashed-up Bollywood, bhangra, rap, R&B, dancehall reggae, dem bow, and more to distribute to small music shops in Flushing and Jackson Heights.