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Mashup x Me: How Fusion Music Increases Brown Representation

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at TAMU chapter.

    Scroll through Tiktok (for the hundredth time, thousandth, or maybe the first time if you have incredible self control), and you’ll likely find mashups of all kinds: whether the Doja Cat song “Woman” with the Bollywood favorite Sheila Ki Jawani, DJ Tesher’s Jalebi Baby, or even the opening chorus of Kala Chashma. It’s impossible to understate the impact that TikTok has had on the music industry. According to Business Insider, songs that find favor on the app often go on to become Billboard Top 10 hits becuase users are more likely to search up a song after they see it used in a video. But as I scroll through my feed, seeing familiar tunes in completely different contexts makes me feel that there’s a bigger trend going on-one that is way bigger than my phone screen.

      Mashups have a long history within the music industry, and are often a way for artists to showcase their heritage, or even to pay tribute to the inspiration behind the song. While Indian mashups are a relatively recent trend on TikTok, using Bollywood and Indian references in pop music is nothing new. Selena Gomez’ 2018 hit “Come and Get It” contained a Hindi verse, and the music video for Coldplay’s iconic song “Hymn For the Weekend” was entirely shot in India. But these references are often not as recognizable as the mashups trending on TikTok, nor are they lasting as long. Coverage of ‘Bama Rush even featured girls dancing to the intro of Kala Chashma, which is a popular music hit from the movie “Baar Baar Dekho” written by a Punjabi songwriter. Seeing these girls-many of whom weren’t even Indian-showing off their rush week outfits is a definite sign of how Tiktok can increase representation. After all, if a year ago you told me the words “sorority rush” and “Bollywood song” would be in the same sentence, I would definitely not believe you.

    The biggest benefits of mashups, of course, are to the artists themselves. No example stands out more than that of Hitesh Sharma, aka DJ Tesher. His collab with Jason Derulo on the song “Jalebi Baby”-with Jalebi being a popular Indian dessert-garnered about 100 million streams worldwide. Jason Derulo even went as far to post a picture of himself with the sweet in hand, with the caption “for those of you still wondering what a Jalebi is..”.

And there’s lots of people who are! Mainstream artists taking the initiative to educate people on brown culture is representation to the next level. And that initiative does wonders for Desi creators, many of whom are fighting to create careers within cultures that don’t encourage pursuing music full-time. Artists like Tesher releasing these hits shows how far Indian music can reach, and how popular it can become, as well as proving that Indian artists are here to stay. 

     As a brown girl, my relationship with music has always been complicated. I learned Indian classical music for years, but somehow often felt embarrassed when I heard Bollywood songs instead of pop in my parents’ car. It wasn’t until I grew older that I began to actively appreciate and acknowledge my culture-and part of that was seeing other non-Indian American people appreciate it. I wish that I would have come to value my culture authentically, rather than only doing so when it was a “trend”. Desi artists are paving the way for that authenticity-one jalebi at a time. 

Neha Rao

TAMU '26

Neha is a freshman political science major at Texas A&M. She is an avid coffee enthusiast, bookworm, and lover of every single dog breed ever created. Her writing interests include psychology, movies, and the experiences of women of color in the United States. She hopes to expand awareness and have fun within HerCampus throughout her college experience!