Nihal Arthanayake is the ultimate outsider.
An Essex-born rapper and music promoter with more gravitas and credibility than most journalists; a raucous and engaging DJ who’s been spoken up as a possible future host of everything from Question Time to Newsnight; a BBC man for well over a decade but whose views on the Beeb aren’t always complementary, particularly when it comes to diversity, and the list goes on.
But perhaps the one thing that marks him as a true outsider is the fact that he is widely considered the most important arbiter and promoter of British Asian (essentially ‘British Indian’) music in the UK, despite being of Sri Lankan origin.
That’s quite something to have achieved given just how touchy British Asians can be when it comes to cultural ownership.
So it was perhaps a no-brainer for Sony Music to get this Sri Lankan-guy-who-knows-more-about-Indian-music-than-most-Indians to compile ‘The Asian Collection’, the first anthology of Asian popular music by a major record label.
More than two years in the making, the 50-track album is a remarkable collection – not only because of its wonderful eclecticism but also for its artistic expression.
Viji Alles finds out more.