Now Or Never

Meet a mild-mannered Calgarian by day, Punjabi superstar by night

Neal Chatha is a laid back 28-year-old who lives in Calgary and likes to watch Star Wars. The PropheC is an international Punjabi music star who blends Indian music with modern day hip-hop.

Neal Chatha is also known as The PropheC, but the two couldn't be more different

Even though The PropheC has found musical stardom, it doesn't mean Neal Chatha is treated like a star at home in Calgary. (Submitted by Neal Chatha)
Listen7:38

By Now or Never host Trevor Dineen

"Have you ever spoken in the third person as much as you have during this interview?"

A loud laugh comes from the other end of the phone, where Neal Chatha has spent the last hour letting me pepper him with questions about his double life.

"No," he says, still chuckling. "It's just so weird that I keep doing it."

To be fair, I can't imagine how he could talk about himself in any other way. You see, Chatha is basically two different people.

By day, he's Neal Chatha, a laid back 28-year-old who lives in Calgary and likes to watch Star Wars movies and spend time with his dog.

But for millions of fans around the world, he's known as The PropheC, an international Punjabi music star who blends Indian music with modern day hip-hop. His latest album The Season hit number one on the Billboard charts in India while also topping the world music charts in the U.K., Norway and the U.S. 

And when Chatha describes the two sides of his personality, he talks like they are polar opposites.

"Over the last few years I've actually worked to make them very different. Neal loves to live a very simple life. He's easy-going, likes to laugh a lot and tell jokes whereas The PropheC is very aware of his feelings. He's mysterious, detail oriented, and a bit of a perfectionist."

Oh, and The PropheC doesn't smile. Not even a little. 

It turns out, when Chatha was crafting his artistic persona, he was doing a lot of photo shoots but didn't quite know who The PropheC was yet. Over the years, he found three or four poses that felt good and it just so happened that none of them involved a smile. 

That may be the most telling difference between Neal and The PropheC — Neal is all laughs. And, although they are worlds apart, he doesn't seem fazed by his double life as a Punjabi superstar. 

"I remember when I was in university, I'd do these crazy club shows at midnight in New York or in the U.K. and I'd get back to the hotel, write an essay, take a flight and in the morning I'd be in class listening to my professor. It just felt so surreal. Like, what just happened?"

The PropheC performs at a recent concert in Toronto. (Submitted by Neal Chatha)

But the biggest moment for Neal happened when he took a trip to India with his dad Daljit Chatha.

One of the first things the Chathas did when they arrived was post a picture on social media saying that he was there. The photo was of his aunt's house. No big deal, right?

"Suddenly, 30 or 40 people showed up at the front because they recognized the area," says Chatha, sounding as shocked as the day it happened.

"They rang the gate at my aunt's house so she answered the door, and all of these people are like, 'We're here to see The PropheC!' and she's like, 'What the heck is a PropheC? I don't know what that is, but you guys have to get off my lawn'! I felt so bad because my aunt had no idea."

Even though his aunt was a bit shocked, it was his father's reaction that surprised him the most.

Neal Chatha - also known as The PropheC - with his Dad, Daljit Chatha. (Submitted by Neal Chatha)
 

"That was the turning point for me," says Daljit Chatha, who up until that trip hadn't been convinced of his son's ambitions as a hip-hop artist. 

"Neal proved to me that he was on the right path." 

"Whatever city we were in, people were waiting to meet him and take pictures. So finally I nodded and said: 'Well you won,' and I started supporting whatever he did after that day. I couldn't be more proud." 

But while The PropheC has found musical stardom, that doesn't mean Neal is treated like a star when he's at home. 

"If I come back from a tour, or playing a show, my Mom will say, 'Oh, you're The PropheC? Well, The PropheC can take out the garbage and The PropheC can go do his chores. They're really good at keeping me in check."

Unlike Neal Chatha, The PropheC doesn't smile much. (Submitted by Neal Chatha)