East meets West: Man Like Ikky Tour brings unique sound to Observatory stage

Fans cheer as Punjabi-Canadian producer Ikwinder Singh performs original compositions blending hip-hop, R&B, reggae and pop with rustic Punjabi rhythms
Photo: Cole Crossthwaite
Ikwinder Singh, a.k.a. Ikky, performed in the Algonquin College Observatory on Feb. 16, as part of his Canada-wide Man Like Ikky Tour.

Punjabi-Canadian producer and composer Ikwinder Singh, a.k.a. Ikky, performed in the Algonquin College Observatory on Feb. 16, as part of his Canada-wide Man Like Ikky Tour.

Ikky’s performance marked the fourth stop in the 23-year-old Rexdale Ont.-based artist’s first ever headline tour across Canada.

The show began at 8 p.m. with a half hour set from the opening act, solo R&B artist Gurtêj Singh. After the opening act completed his roughly half-hour set, there was a brief pause before Ikky took the stage. Ikky called his fans to gather closer to the stage and began performing his original compositions that blend the sounds of traditional Punjabi music with those of modern western genres.

The Man Like Ikky Tour made stops in Winnipeg, Edmonton, Halifax, Ottawa and Montreal.

Ikky’s music is a unique combination of hip-hop, R&B, reggae and pop with rustic Punjabi rhythms and vocals that Ikky says, on his website, is best described as “groovy, forward-thinking Punjabi music.”

He released his breakthrough single Diamond with Gurnam Bhullar in 2018 which has amassed over 600 million views on YouTube to date. Since then, he has gone on to collaborate with various artists to create numerous crossover hits. Most notably, the lead single 52 Bars, from Ikky’s recent 2023 collaborative EP with Karan Aujla titled Four You, debuted in the top 15 of Billboard’s Canadian Hot 100 chart.

According to his website, with now over a billion total streams worldwide, Ikky continues looking to innovate the future of music.

“My goal has never changed, I will work to find opportunities to grow the music I love with the hopes that the rest of the world sees what only Punjabi’s and the diaspora see at the moment,” Ikky is quoted on his website.

With this in mind, in 2021, Ikky launched 4N records in partnership with Warner Music and Coalition Music with the hopes of creating “songs and collaborations that will bridge the gap between India’s exploding music scene and the rest of the world”.

Under the colourful hue of stage lights, song by song, solo artist Gurtêj Singh alternated between acoustic guitar and keyboard. As smooth vocals intertwined with instrumental notes, the melodic sounds of R&B rippled effortlessly through the audience.

After playing the last song of his set, Singh announced to the audience, “Ikky is in the back. He’ll be right out.” Ikky’s fans waited in patient anticipation for the headline artist to begin his set.

Ikky crossed the stage and was met with the cheers of fans who came to hear his distinct brand of hip-hop, pop and Punjabi music that bridges the gap between the sounds of India and the West. As he beckoned his fans to gather closer to the stage, the room’s energy shifted to match the energetic upbeat mood set by Ikky. Launching into his opening set, Ikky called his fans to “put your hand up, keep your hands up,” continuing to elevate the atmosphere and energy of the crowd throughout his performance.

In a biography posted on his website, Ikky says, “I really just want to make sure that once the door opens for Punjabi music worldwide, it will flood the gates.”

Ikky’s latest release, Ishq Hua (Love Happened), marks a foray into uncharted territory as his debut composition of Hindi music. Ishq Hua (Love Happened) can be found on YouTube, Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music and various other music platforms.

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