He faced death threats from Punjabi gangsters
Hailing from the vibrant heartland of Punjab, India, AP Dhillon stands as a superstar of Punjabi music.
The artist has captured the hearts of audiences with his soulful vocals, meaningful lyrics, and innate talent for blending Punjabi melodies with a modern flair.
Since his debut in 2019, Dhillon has ascended to the pinnacle of the international music industry.
As of 2023, he reigns as the world’s most streamed Punjabi artist, a testament to the magnetic allure of his tracks.
With over 5 billion streams on various digital platforms, his music has become a sonic phenomenon, transcending borders and languages.
His chart-topping prowess is undeniable.
Multiple tracks, such as ‘Excuses’, ‘Brown Munde’, and the hit ‘With You’, commanded the coveted number one spot on the Spotify India charts.
Notably, ‘With You’ surged to the Spotify Daily Global Charts, marking a historic achievement for Punjabi music.
Although, whilst the artist’s songs speak volumes, he is quite a mysterious character.
With the release of his highly-anticipated Amazon documentary, First of a Kind, many fans were expecting the musician to reveal all.
And, even though some fans were in awe of his journey, others were left a tad disappointed as they felt Dhillon didn’t show too much of his ‘real’ persona.
So, to get a better grasp of the singer, we unveil some interesting facts about AP Dhillon that you probably don’t know.
1. Single Parent Home
AP Dhillon has been candid when talking about his biji (grandmother).
He states he was brought up in a single-parent household, without explaining his mother’s situation.
His father was away, and his family struggled during Punjab’s crisis, but he doesn’t go into detail about what specific struggles they faced.
Raised by his biji, when he reunites with her, now quite frail, the emotional floodgates open.
Upon finishing his school, AP Dhillon pursued a degree in civil engineering at Punjab Technical University.
During his time there, he passionately pursued singing, often gracing the college’s annual functions and festivals with his performances.
3. Before Music
Before all the fame, money, and attention, Dhillon came from humble beginnings.
He held positions as a sales assistant at a petrol station and Best Buy before eventually finding his real calling as an artist.
4. Surprising Influences
Although he draws inspiration from Punjabi musicians, it’s noteworthy that the singer’s top picks are Snoop Dogg and his father.
He admits that his songs are heavily shaped by the hip hop legend and that his dad had a huge impact on his musical interests and ear.
5. Journey to Canada
Dhillon came to Canada with only two suitcases and a dream.
While his journey is now an inspiring tale, he admits to experiencing moments of despair and homesickness during his early days.
In his documentary, he vividly recalls a phone call to his father, expressing his deep desire to escape the situation.
6. Gminorx & Gurinder Gill
The singer’s inner circle remains loyal to those who supported him during his early days of obscurity.
He has stated that he met his Run-Up Records collaborators Gminorx and Gurinder Gill at school, and it was by the off chance that they hit it off.
Dhillon attributes a significant portion of his success to his team and friends, continually seeking their insights for his creative endeavours.
One of the reasons for his down-to-earth demeanour, which stands in stark contrast to his extravagant image, is the enduring presence and influence of his friends.
7. Trained by YouTube
According to industry experts, Dhillon stands out as the first independent Indian artist who continues to craft his own beats, despite achieving tremendous success.
His unique sound, characterised by the fusion of rustic Punjabi melodies with Western hip hop and trap beats, is a creation of Dhillon and his team, cultivated in their modest Vancouver studio.
What’s equally impressive and quietly inspiring is the fact that he acquired these skills through self-learning on YouTube.
8. First Song
Thousands of fans think that Dhillon announced himself on the world stage with his song ‘Excuses’ or ‘Brown Munde’.
But it was back in 2019 when Dhillon initiated his career by releasing the single ‘Fake’.
In collaboration with Shinda Kahlon, they released the track through their independent label, Run-Up Records.
Subsequently, he made an appearance and served as the producer for the music video for the song ‘Faraar’ by Gurinder Gill and Kahlon.
9. Sidhu Moose Wala
AP Dhillon admits he was very close with popular singer Sidhu Moose Wala and revealed that news of Sidhu’s death had shaken him to the core.
He explained that the pair had bonded over the fact that their mothers hailed from the same village in India.
Many fans speculated the pair would release multiple songs together, but it never came to fruition.
10. Brown Munde
Few are aware that the beat for the hit song ‘Brown Munde’ was sourced from a YouTube channel called LH Instruments, which specialises in crafting hip hop beats.
AP Dhillon and his team obtained the necessary licensing to transform one of their beats into a chart-topping track.
Remarkably, the song has been viewed at an astounding rate of 6.7 times per second since its YouTube release.
11. PTSD & Death Threats
Upon announcing his India tour following the success of ‘Excuses’, the singer found himself swarmed by crowds in cities like Chandigarh.
He also revealed that he faced death threats from Punjabi gangsters, with his privacy at risk at all times.
One poignant moment shared in his documentary is when Dhillon admitted to having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from his experiences with meet-and-greets at concerts in India.
Upon returning to perform in his homeland, he felt compelled to conform to a particular image of AP Dhillon, confessing the strain in doing so.
12. AP Dhillon is a Crier
In the four-part docu-series, he’s vigilant about keeping his personas, AP Dhillon and Amritpal, separate.
But there were moments when the confident, unapproachable facade gave way to reveal the awestruck boy from a small Punjab town.
One such poignant instance unfolded just before his inaugural performance on his North American tour.
Sitting in the car, tears welled up uncontrollably as he prepared to grace a venue he had only ever seen from the outside.
Though he hastily wiped away the tears, this raw display of vulnerability has become an integral part of what defines him as the current star he is.
Around the time of Sidhu’s death, he faced criticism for featuring a provocative dance routine in one of his performances.
Certain patriarchal trolls even sent him threats and vowed to boycott his shows if he didn’t remove the choreography.
Despite the hate directed at him, AP remained resolute, opting to uphold his artistic choice and not exclude the dancer’s part.
14. History Maker
In 2023, Dhillon made history at the Juno Awards by being the first Punjabi artist to perform at the show.
He was introduced by superstar Avril Lavigne as a “global phenomenon”.
Dhillon made history again by leading the cover the inaugural Canadian digital cover of Billboard Canada.
In the first-ever all-Punjabi cover, Dhillon stands front and centre with fellow singers Karan Aujla, Jonita Gandhi, Gurinder Gill and Ikky.
15. A Record Breaker
It’s no shock that Dhillon has success which translates to his songs doing tremendously well.
However, the grand numbers that he achieved are not as widely known.
His monthly online listeners could fill the world’s largest stadium 80 times over if gathered together.
Just to put this in perspective, the largest stadium is the Rungrado 1st of May Stadium in North Korea which has a capacity of 150,000.
Also, as stated by YouTube on Twitter:
“The combined height of AP’s monthly listeners exceeds Mt Everest’s height by 2035 times.”
Another streaming fact is the YouTube views of ‘Brown Munde’ totals up to over 4,000 years of continuous playtime.
And, the singer’s tracks have been listened to over three times the combined population of India and Canada.
In a world where the spotlight often conceals more than it reveals, delving into the lesser-known facets of an artist’s life can be both enlightening and enriching.
As we’ve journeyed through the untold chapters of AP Dhillon’s life, we’ve discovered a mosaic of experiences that have shaped the artist.
AP Dhillon’s story, like many others, is one of triumph over adversity.
There is always more to discover beneath the surface of even the most celebrated individuals.