The saying ‘what goes around comes around’ could not have been more pertinent on Friday’s show as I sat opposite Nihal, an award-winning DJ whose show I had previously worked on at the BBC Asian Network.

The rapper, turned DJ, journalist and television host Nihal joined me in the studio talk about his latest project ‘The Asian Collection’. I asked Nihal how it felt to be in the hot-seat for once?!

“It feels nice being in the hot seat”. “Usually, I’m having a strong, deep religious, cultural, or political debate”. It is nice being here talking about ‘The Asian Collection’.

Nihal worked with Sony Entertainment to curate ‘The Asian Collection’ which is an album that includes over 50 tracks of mixed music. It took him about three years to decide on the songs that would make the golden list!

How do you manage to create a shortlist, especially as a DJ who constantly hears new songs?! Nihal explained that this is not about fashion or vibes but is a compilation of great songs. From music by A R Raham, Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and Jay Sean, the eclectic mix should evoke memories of school, college, and appeal to those cooking in the kitchen – absolutely everyone from all walks of life!

Although entitled ‘The Asian Collection’, it features Western music including Missy Elliot! So how does this fit in?! For Nihal, this album was about compiling anthems and game-changers. ‘Get Your Freak On’ was a track where Timbaland used tabla licks and the sounds of the sub-continent in African America hip-hop.

Jay Sean’s ‘Down’ was important for Asians because it became No. 1 in the US Charts, knocking the Black Eyed Peas off their number 1 top spot where they had been for six months.

The songs that feature on the album may have been game-changers, but this album itself is breaking records. Having teamed up with Sony Entertainment, it is the first time ever that the biggest supermarkets in the country are selling a CD in the ‘World Food’ aisle.

The album is ambitious but is part of the British Asian story for Nihal. The British Asian community is huge and they contribute massively to wider society through business, culture and many other aspects. So, the album is part of that.

From what Nihal was saying, it seemed that bringing together cultures through music was an important aspect? He hopes that the albums sells enough for him to make more but also that all big music labels will recognise that there is a market for Asian music and Asian artists, and will sign them.

How important was it then to include up-and-coming artists on this album? For Nihal, he has given new artists a platform on his radio station. This album was ambitious and you really had to have had a huge hit to have featured. He also described the Asian LIVE scene as non-existent but important for exposure.

Nihal pays tribute to the ‘mela’ with his album. He talks me through how this works. When you are at a mela, you may walk past a food stall playing Bollywood, the main stage with a Bhangra artist singing, another stall with youngsters playing urban vibes, then another stand playing classical music. This album encompasses that atmosphere with the mixed genre of songs.

Why was capturing the mela through music so pivotal? Once again, Nihal is trying to bridge the gap between cultures and bring the Asian culture into the focus on the main. The mela is a good focal point to dip into the Asian culture even for non-Asians.

Sometimes, as Asians we attend events and are the only Asians at that event. Nihal wants non-Asians to attend melas and enjoy the food, music, culture and atmosphere.

Bringing cultures together is a wonderful aim. I wanted to know why Nihal was so set on this, as he had brought it up various times and from different aspects.

Nihal grew up in a village in Essex and mixed with white, black and Asian people. When he walked in to a room, and he had walked into some powerful rooms such as 10 Downing Street, he never wanted to feel intimidated for being Asian.

He explained that having the same background, such as religion, does not denote default friendship. And on Radio 1, he had always been playing Asian music to a non-Asian background. He himself is Sri Lankan so does not speak or understand Hindi or Punjabi. But language is never a barrier and music is universal. For him, music is all about hearing the passion of the singer, the melody or beat.

Nihal’s passion for music was evident during his interview so I put him on the spot and asked him to rap about our interview on Zee Companion – it was definitely the highlight of the show for me! And it exemplified his talent with words!

Talking of words, I moved on to Nihal’s debate show on the BBC Asian Network and being put on the spot with callers. Nihal explained he didn’t want to be a DJ forever, but he wants to be in radio forever. If you master speech radio, you have a long career, and for Nihal it is about the career rather than fame.

It takes years to get comfortable, he explained. Having hosted it for around five years, it is only in the last two years he has got comfortable. In the last General Election, Nihal interviewed the likes of Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Theresa May. He described interviewing politicians as rap battles!

He is definitely a fountain of knowledge and nothing seems to faze him when he comes back at viewers with a fact or statistic, so how does he do it?

He explained that he has a lot of conversations with people so retains information, uses Google during the show to check up on facts, and sometimes presses the mute button on his mic to ask him team to check a comment made on-air!

“Wisdom is fed by knowledge and knowledge is gotten by speaking to people of different backgrounds”.

The Asian community is a vibrant and brilliant one but we need to shed light on the bad too and can’t brush it under the carpet. “I’m not anti anyone…I am anti bigot, racist, moron, homophobia.”

“I am here to ask questions” on the big topics that affect the community such as drug abuse, child abuse, alcoholism and more. We need to ask questions and address these issues.

Having received support from the main man himself from the very beginning of my journey as a journalist, it was an absolute honour to give him a platform on my show, return the favour, and wish him all the best with ‘The Asian Collection’ – which, by the way, is awesome!