It was on March 26 when Sidhu Moosewala performed to a packed audience at Dubai’s Coca-Cola Arena, bringing fans to their feet as they crooned his popular tracks. Little did they know that just over two months following that musical night, they would be reading about his tragic death.
The popular Punjabi singer-actor-politician commanded a cult following that few could match, with fans stretching from Bollywood stars Ranveer Singh, Varun Dhawan and Sara Ali Khan to Canadian rapper Drake.
Moosewala’s untimely death at 28 has also put pressure on the Punjab government which had ordered the security cover for 462 VIPs in the Indian state to be removed on May 28. Less than 24 hours later, Moosewala lay dead, shot by an AK-47 assault rifle by assailants that used a weapon that he often posed with, drawing sharp criticism from many factions for popularising the gun culture in Punjab.
Rise to fame
Born on 17 June 1993, Moosewala, whose real name was Shubhdeep Singh Sidhu, hailed from Moosa, a village in Punjab’s Mansa district where he would be killed 28 years later.
Inclined towards music from a young age, his career in the spotlight kicked off at age 22 when he turned songwriter for Ninja and Goldboy’s ‘License’ that released in 2016. A year later, he began his own singing career, lending his voice to ‘G Wagon’, a duet he sang with Deep Jandu.
Following his debut, he collaborated with Brown Boyz for various tracks which were released by Humble Music.
His career found fame in Canada, where Moose Wala found a new home and a following for his ‘gangster rap’. The track ‘So High’ was a stepping stone until the 2018 debut album ‘PBX 1’ peaked at the 66th spot on the Billboard Canadian Album chart.
Following the album, he started to release his songs independently with his 2019 single ‘47’ even making it to the UK Singles Chart. In 2020, Moosewala even made it to The Guardian list of 50 new up and coming artists to watch out for that year.
Over his short-lived career, 10 of his songs peaked on the UK Asian charts. His song ‘Bambiha Bole’ was among the top five on the Global YouTube music chart.
Shrouded in controversies
Despite his 8 million-odd followers on Instagram and popularity that few Punjabi singers commanded overseas, Moose Wala often found himself shrouded in controversies, largely due to his music that critics said glorified the drugs and guns culture.
His tracks such as ‘Levels’ and ‘Me and My Girlfriend’ saw him brandishing guns and assault weapons while the late singer was also booked after the pictures of him with an AK-47 went viral on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic. Later, he was also booked by the Punjab police under the Arms Act after being charged with the promotion of gun culture in February 2020. The action was taken following the release of his song ‘Panj Goliyan’, where he was booked under Sections 509 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 294 (reciting obscene songs) and 149 (unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code.
In 2020, a criminal case was filed against Moosewala and five police personnel, after a video went viral on social media showing him shooting at a firing range using an Ak-47 rifle and a revolver during the lockdown.
After he got bail, Moose Wala went on to release a song titled ‘Sanju’, which similarly kicked off another controversy. In the track, he compared himself with Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, taking pride in the cases registered against him under the Arms Act, similar to the star’s own real-life trajectory when he was sentenced to prison by a TADA Court in 2007 for illegal possession of weapons in a 1993 case.
Moosewala also upset groups with his track ‘Jatti Jeone Morh Wargi’, which came under the scanner as it made a reference to the 18th-century Sikh warrior Mai Bhago and portrayed him in poor light. Following several First Information Reports filed against him, Moose Wala issued an apology.
Yet, despite being controversy’s favourite child, he won widespread support in 2021 after ge extended his support to the farmers’ protest at the Delhi borders that went on for more than a year.
Stepping into politics in December 2021, the Punjabi singer joined the Congress party and also contested from Mansa, where he eventually lost.
He was shot dead on Sunday evening in Mansa.
Even as Bollywood and the Punjabi film and music fraternities lead the condolences, fans are theorising whether Moosewala had already predicted his untimely demise that bears an uncanny similarity to his final track, ‘The Last Ride’.
As news of Moosewala’s death broke on social media late Sunday, the hashtag #TheLastRide also started to trend, which the singer had released a mere two weeks earlier.
Several fans have noticed uncanny similarities between the song and the circumstances of Moosewala’s death.
According to reports, ‘The Last Ride’ was reportedly a tribute to rap legend Tupac Shakur who was similar shot dead in his car in 1996 in 25. Moose Wala was similarly shot dead my unidentified assailants.
At one point in his song, Moosewala crooned: “Ho chobbar de chehre utte noor dassda, ni ehda uthuga jawani Ch Janaja Mithiye (Everything is revealed in the eyes of the young boy that the funeral will take place in its youth).”
The cover image for Sidhu Moosewala’s last song was a picture from the murder scene of rapper Tupac.
With grieving fans drawing parallels, one wrote: “This was sidhu moosewala last released song - THE LAST RIDE the cover is similar to the way he was shot,” while sharing a picture of the cover image.
Another fan wrote on Twitter: “He already knew everything about his death #TheLastRide.”
“Crazy how life works sometimes. Moosewala had just dropped “The Last Ride”. The image featured on it is the crime scene from Tupac’s assassination. Where he also was shot and killed whilst sat in the front right-hand seat of the Mahindra car. #TheLastRide #sidhumoosewala,” posted another.
Elsewhere, others have drawn parallels with his death and his track ‘295’, where he expressed his opinion on section 295 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) — ‘Injuring or defiling a place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class.’
The song resurfaced with people on social media connecting the track name with his date of death, May 29 or 295.
According to the latest update, the Punjab Police has registered an FIR or First Information Report against unknown persons in the shooting.
Notably, CCTV footage has emerged on social media which shows two cars trailing Moosewala’s vehicle moments before he was shot dead in Mansa. The video, however, is not verified by the state police yet, according to an IANS report.
Meanwhile, Canada-based gangster Goldy Brar has reportedly claimed responsibility for Moosewala’s murder in a Facebook post on Sunday evening. Brar is a close aide of gang leader Lawrence Bishnoi, who is reportedly being investigated in the singer’s murder.
Punjab Police so far has said that preliminary investigation shows it to be an inter-gang rivalry and has detained six people from Dehradun’s Peliyon Police Chowki area in connection with the murder, according to ANI.
Meanwhile, the Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann also announced a judicial probe under a sitting judge of Punjab and Haryana High Court to investigate the killing. Balkaur Singh, father of Moosewala, has also demanded an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the National Investigation Agency. — With inputs from ANI
Canadian rapper Drake pays tribute to slain Punjabi singer Sidhu Moosewala
Canadian rapper Drake is the latest celebrity to condolee the death of the Punjabi musician with a tribute on social media.
Drake took to his Instagram handle and shared a story in remembrance of the late rapper-singer. It featured a throwback picture of Moosewala with his mother along with the caption, “RIP MOOSE @sidhu moosewala.”
Drake had been among the several million followers that Moosewala had on Instagram.
Meanwhile, several Punjabi artists including Parmish Verma, Diljit Dosanjh and Sargun Mehta, along with Bollywood stars Ranveer Singh, Bhumi Pednekar, Kangana Ranaut and others have mourned Moosewala’s death.