May 31, 2022
On Sunday, May 29, 2022, Indian rapper and singer Sidhu Moose Wala, 28, was murdered when several assailants shot him dead while he was driving in Punjab, India. His music resonated with not only those in India and Pakistan but also the global Punjabi and Sikh diaspora, especially in the United States, Canada, and the U.K.
“Sidhu was with me for the past four years of my life through thick and thin,” said Avish Arora, a Punjabi American physician based in New York City. “I danced with abandon to his music at my sister’s wedding, cried with his words about betrayal during a breakup, and definitely cranked up his anthems about cars and guns when I needed to be pumped up.”
Moose Wala was born in Punjab but moved to Canada after getting his engineering degree, launching his first track in 2017. His songs, with their catchy beats and rhythmic flow — which drew inspiration from rap and hip-hop — would go on to rack up billions of views on YouTube. Sidhu Moose Wala sang not only about his rags-to-riches story but also about relationships people had with mothers, fathers, and sons in songs such as “Dear Mama” and “Bapu.” In 2018, his album PBX 1 made it to Canada’s Billboard charts and in 2021, he was the first Indian artist to perform at the famed Wireless Festival in London.
Revered for bringing a global diaspora together and for his unapologetic political beliefs, Sidhu Moose Wala achieved international stardom in only a few years. But he had his critics, who felt that he promoted gun and gang culture, both of which police are now investigating as part of his untimely death.