Kids Corner


Humble The Poet: Voice For The Voiceless




When we first heard Humble the Poet rap - the deep, scratchy-smooth voice, the liquid delivery - we detected echoes of Tupac. But then we listened to the lyrics:

When a man hangs himself over 3 benji debt

Cause it woulda taken 90 years just to pay it back

Not a gambler, He was trying to tap a well

And he missed it twice, We don't miss his life

All's swell

Humble the Poet, a.k.a. Kanwer Singh, is not your typical hip hop artist.

He's a 28-year-old Sikh-Canadian from Toronto. He has no interest in signing with a label (his 60-plus tracks can all be downloaded for free from his website). His manager's his best friend. He doesn't even do this full-time - he's a 3rd grade teacher. But his talent is speaking for itself, to the tune of 22,000 Facebook fans and counting.

Nobody is more surprised by his success than Kanwer Singh himself.

"I was very hesitant to put my work out there for a long time," he admits. "I had that American Idol fear - you know, that you think you're better than you are." Then, in May of 2008, he posted a haunting track called "Voice for the Voiceless" on YouTube, about victims of drug and gang violence among the immigrant Indian community, and the fuse was lit.

Though most of his fans are South Asian ("I think it's validating to see me in the forefront," he says), he's making inroads into the mainstream as well. Already, he's been featured twice on, one of the biggest hip hop websites in the world - which is no easy feat for a guy who looks like Kanwer.

He recalls a recent blog post about him that read, "The beard caught me off guard ... After I looked past that, I realized the guy actually has lyrics."

The guy definitely has lyrics. Kanwer Singh is a rare breed in the rap world these days: a poet with brain and heart, who's more likely to rap about corporate exploitation than Cristal. If he gets famous as a result, so much the better - "I'm a typical guy," he admits. But what he really wants is to make a difference. "I would love to change the world. I would love, you know, when they find the bullet-riddled body of the next Che Guevara ... I would love for them to find my CD in his personal effects."

Until then, you can get a taste of his music and poetry with free downloads at


[Courtesy: Republic of Brown]

July 18, 2010

Conversation about this article

1: Parmjit Singh (Canada), July 20, 2010, 1:24 AM.

In Kanwer Singh's lyrics, we have a gem, a gifted ambassador who challenges the status quo, speaks with courage rooted in love and grace. Sikhs in North America, and abroad: if you want to get respect for some core Sikhi values, stop being groupies for so called sants in human form. Support Humble's truth. His words are for sarbat da bhalla, not just jutt da bhalla or punjabi da bhalla. There are a few others like him also. As Sikhs, we work hard for basic respect, tryng to protect the future of Sikhi and our kids.

2: Manpreet Singh (Canada), July 26, 2011, 8:54 PM.

Kanwer Singh is a gifted artist who speaks from the soul and sings with humility. Any one from any background can benefit and take something away from listening to such great lyrics. As a response to brother Parmjit Singh, I would like to say that these so called "groupies" you speak of are called 'sangat'. I regularly attend a 'sangat' to listen to the katha of a mahapurakh and I can tell you that the things I learn about Sikhi and gurbani in such a sangat are great. Have some respect in the future, my friend, and don't judge ... judging is not our job. Live and let live.

3: Manraj Singh Bhart (Malaysia), July 28, 2011, 2:27 AM.

In my opinion, what he means by groupies for sants is that usually most sants think that they're little gods. Truth be told, I believe you would agree on this. I've seen people washing their feet. Now, isn't a sant as human as all of us? The only difference is that their spirituality is higher than us ... but washing their feet? It's fundamentally against Sikhi and common sense.

4: Manan Bhatia (India), August 22, 2012, 7:06 PM.

It is an honor to learn about somebody from our own community doing such a great feat with writing and singing stuff that matters. There's finally someone who does justice to rap. Great work, sir. Looking forward to your upcoming tracks!

5: Navraj (Kenya), November 01, 2012, 3:03 AM.

Humble, you're a real legend. Love your music. You should come to Kenya some day and hold a concert here. That would rock a lot of people here.

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