Thursday, August 13, 2009

From Bollywood to Black America and back - the evolution of a sample

One of the best examples of the hip-hop world's flirtation with Indian music is Addictive by R&B singer Truth Hurts, which was a hit in 2002 (reaching #9 on the Billboard Charts). It was also the focus of a $500 million lawsuit, since the record label Aftermath neglected to properly clear the sampled song.

The song in question is Thoda Resham Lagta Hai, from the 1981 movie Jyoti. It's lip-synched in the below sequence from the movie; the real vocalist is the great Lata Mangeshkar.

If you've not heard of Mangeshkar, she is one of the greatest "playback" singers in Bollywood. It is claimed that she holds the record for the most recordings of any artist, anywhere (somewhere approaching 25,000), and she is the sister of that other queen of the Bollywood song, Asha Bhosle.

For Addictive, producer DJ Quik (who'd heard the song on TV one morning) sampled Mangeshkar's vocals over a beat cribbed from the 70s funk hit Do It Til Your Satisfied by BT Express. Throw in soul diva Truth Hurts and a rap from the legendary Rakim, and you have a slammin' track. Dr Dre is the executive producer, whatever that means.

I first heard Addictive in a club called Shadows in Kuala Lumpur, where the mostly Indian clientele were going crazy over it. This was before Indian samples became really mainstream in hip-hop, and so I figured at the time it must have been some local mash-up. I doubted that big-name US hip-hoppers would have actually used a Bollywood sample so prominently - only to later find it was blowing up in clubs all over the world.

The drum sample can be heard in BT Express's track below, which is also a killer and makes me start involuntarily strutting. It is interesting how the distinctive conga pattern from this 70s funk track has such similarities with the dholl beat of Thoda Resham Lagta Hai; while not exactly the same, it is similar enough that it's not hard to see how DJ Quik got the idea to combine the two songs.

There is also another version of Mangeshkar's song which appears to take its beat from Addictive. It's called Kaliyon Ka Chaman and is sung by South Indian actress and sex symbol Meghna Naidu. This song also around the same time as Addictive, so truth be told I'm not sure who copied who. Not sure how purist fans of Bollywood music would feel about either of the tracks, but this is nice enough even without the hot babes cavorting throughout the video. And an interesting example of how cultural appropriation can go both ways.

See also:

Mainstream hip-hop's Bollywood flirtations

Hip-hop's Ethiopian flirtations

Let's play Spot the Sample - Lata Mangeshkar, "Tere Mere Beech Mein"

Sitar grooves - US3, "You can't hold me down"

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