July 11th, 2008

Where Do I Begin (To Tell the Story)?

As long as we’re on the topic of “Arab Face” I’ve decided to dust off and finish up this post that’s long been sitting in my drafts folder. (It’s post #100, and I’ve recently published #400, if that’s any indication of how long it’s been on a backburner.)

There are countless twisty, tangly stories of sounds & images & ideas going from there to here and back again. They make for rich discussions of allusion, appropriation, borrowing, copying, re-use, remix, and the like. And they’re often a lot more complex than any ol’ East/West, North/South dichotomies can explain. The question of exploitation — of big pimpin’, eh? — typically looms large, especially in an asymmetrically dominated/accessed global economy. But the evidence of cultural vitality, and the degree to which that depends on mimetic representations, is perhaps what should assume the foreground.

What I like about the example clustered around Truth Hurts’s “Addiction” is how it calls attention to the both-waysness of such phenomena. I’m afraid it’s a LOT more complicated than any of the accounts I’ve yet encountered online. And the misconceptions around the case are quite telling, especially as they’re used to cast aspersion on this party or that. It’s taken me quite some time to try to piece things together, verify certain claims and discount others, and I have to admit that there remain a number of details I’ve yet to pin down. Perhaps putting this out there will help tie up loose ends.

Most readers are no doubt familiar with the Truth Hurts song&video –

As you probably know — given that the initial $500M lawsuit made some news — the filmi sample for “Addictive” comes from a song called “Thoda Resham Lagta Hai (Kaliyon Ka Chaman)” as composed by Bappi Lahiri, sung by the great Lata Mangeshkar, and featured in this scene in Jyoti (1981). That initial lawsuit was instigated by Saregama India Limited, a major film and music firm based in Kolkata which, presumably, owns the mechanical rights to Jyoti and its soundtrack. Later, the composer himself would also sue Dr. Dre & co. (“Addictive” was produced by DJ Quik for Dre, who exec produced the Truth Hurts album), for the more modest sum of slightly more than $1M. Both cases, predictably/typically, were settled out of court.

And yet, one bit of misinformation among others is the falsehood that Lata herself instigated a suit. Richard Roughinhere, for example, whose nu-whirled blog has become increasingly devoted to Bollywood, is unfortunately guilty of spreading that rumor when he wrote about hip-hop sampling B-wood a while back. Unlike MIA’s apparently licensed versions of filmi songs, Richard writes that “Addictive,”

was done without permission and resulted in a big law suit from Lata Mangeshkar, which I think is kind of unnecessary…but never mind.

Now, I appreciate Richard expressing his liberal opinion about sampling practices, but it doesn’t serve anyone — least of all a towering figure like Lata, who nonetheless (presumably) holds no rights for most of the 30,000+ (!) songs she recorded — to get the facts wrong when we’re talking about allegations of appropriation and exploitation.

[Update (7/14): Richard has been in touch, and I owe him an apology for the accusation above. He points out that there are several sources which seem to allege that Lata either sanctioned the lawsuit or was perhaps even party to it. I still need to see some more conclusive evidence (i.e., legal docs or Lata's own words), but plenty of reporting and discussion on the web -- thin as it is -- does suggest that Lata might have, at the least, given her blessing to the lawsuit by Saregama. I'm eager to know whether she holds any rights to the recordings, or whether it's a matter of pride / permission / "moral rights" for her.

Update II (7/14): I found one legal document pertaining to the case, from August 07. It names Lahiri and Saregama as plaintiffs (not Mangeshkar) and discusses the interesting fact, which the defense -- for Universal / Interscope / Aftermath / Dre -- attempted to use to its advantage, that the two parties (Lahiri and Saregama) each separately filed in early 03 for the US copyright to "Thoda Resham." I have read in a few places that both claims were settled out of court. As late as fall of 07, however, the case was proceeding. Interestingly, a judge ruled that Lahiri did not appear, under Indian law, to own the copyright for "Thoda Resham" as recorded in Jyoti having signed that away long ago to Pramod Films, the production company which made the film and later sold these rights to Saregama. Given that ruling, I don't see why UMG / Dre would settle with Lahiri except to put the thing to sleep.]

Another major source of confusion around this case is that another song, “Kaliyon Ka Chaman,” released the same year as “Addictive,” is sometimes identified as having refashioned the Lahiri composition first. Even though it’s an “interpolation” rather than a direct sample, in Indian parlance this “cover” version is known as a “remix.” Notably, “Kaliyon Ka Chaman” has stood at the center of some rather contentious local debates about the value/originality of “remixes” in India, inspiring such alarmist turns of phrase as “musical terrorism.”

A huge hit in India, “Kaliyon” helped to launch Meghna Naidu‘s buxom, er, career. Interestingly, like “Addictive,” it was distributed by Universal, which, oddly, decided to license the rights to “Thoda Resham” for “Kaliyon” in India while failing to do so for the Truth Hurts song:

Coincidentally, UMG’s foreign subsidiary Universal India sought and was granted permission to license the song for an unrelated use as a cover 12 days before Truthfully Speaking was released June 26, furthering the suit’s claim that “the defendants clearly and admittedly knew their activities were, and currently are, infringing on [Seragama's] copyrighted work.”

A Universal Music Group spokesperson had no comment on the matter.

Here’s the video for “Kaliyon Ka Chaman.” Look familiar?

Sometimes people are pretty quick to point fingers. The person who posted the above to YouTube declares that Truth Hurts “ripped” the above “off” rather than vice versa. (Indeed, the video has been titled “truth hurts addictive kaaliyon ka chaman ripped off” — lest one miss the description.) Although I haven’t been able to verify the comparative release dates, I have to admit that I find it really implausible that the song&video for “Kaliyon” were not themselves directly influenced by the Truth Hurts production rather than vice versa. (Please, correct me on this point if you have any evidence.) There are several bits of circumstantial evidence that seem to affirm the “originality” of the Truth Hurts version, including that quotation above which notes that the Lata sample was cleared for “Kaliyon” only 12 days before Truth Hurts’s album was released (and well after her single had entered heavy rotation).

Let’s agree on this much (though I hope to confirm this soon, and I think the genealogy is obvious): the two songs and videos are so similar in structure and imagery that any thesis of independent emergence seems absurd. The choreographed Indian-inflected bellydancing, the shots panning up and down the bed, the same use of the same parts of the Lata song, the same overlayed drum patterns, the mutual use of melodies unrelated to the Lata original — all suggest that one came first.

Beyond the licensing timeline (and in the current absence of release dates for both), DJ Quik’s story about how he encountered and hooked-up the sample would seem to offer strong evidence that it was Jyoti rather than “Kaliyon” which inspired the making of “Addictive.” According to Kevin Miller, whose “Bolly’hood Remix” explores the practice of sampling Indian music in hip-hop,

DJ Quik first heard the Lata Mangeshkar song while watching the Hindi film Jyoti on Z-TV, and subsequently looped large sections into a framework over which the R&B lyrics were laid.

Elsewhere, Quik has described it himself in the following manner, which seems to square –

“I woke up one morning, … I turned on the TV and landed on this Hindi channel and just turned it up real loud,” Quik explained this past summer. “There was a commercial on, and I just got up and went into the bathroom and started brushing my teeth. I’m brushing, and before I knew it, I was grooving. … [The beat on the TV] was just in my body. I went back in there and looked at the TV — there was a girl on there bellydancing, just like real fly. So I pushed record on the VCR.”

Moreover, a blurb from March 02 about the making of the video suggests that the choreography and setting was, if cliche, also in its way “original” — a classic bit of US orientalism, conflating South Asia with the Middle East:

The video, directed by Philip Atwell (Real Slim Shady, Bad Intentions), complements the song’s East Indian sound with belly dancing choreographed by Fatima Robinson, and her body decorated with henna art.

And yet, if one checks the Wikipedia entries for “Addictive_(song)” or “Truth_Hurts” one finds the following text pasted, verbatim, into each article:

Though the original song, Lata Mangeshkar’s Thoda Resham Lagta Hai, was used as the main base of the track within the chorus, the modern-style beats, rhythm, melody and even the video was copied from the original remake (first version), UMI10′s Kaliyon Ka Chaman Jab Banta Hain featuring Meghna Naidu. This original remake was highly popular amongst the youths in South Asia, though it was almost non-existent within the West due to the language barrier. The first version was therefore only deemed popular to a specific niche market and culture. Although very little was changed to the original remake of the classic song, Truth Hurts’ version was more marketable for mainstream release and therefore became more popular internationally whilst the original remake wasn’t known to exist.

That’s a lazy bit of revisionism there, Media Research (if that’s your real name) — and offers no evidence to support its rather far-reaching claims. That this blurb now turns up in the descriptive texts for YouTube instantiations of these videos, and fuels ignorant debate which can spiral into nat’list&racist vitriol, is troubling to say the least.

Setting the record straight here is important, not least because misunderstandings about the (multi)direction(ality) of influence and borrowing and copying and ripping off can so quickly lead to charges of “cultural imperialism,” as Lahiri himself gave voice when bringing forth his lawsuit.

In an age of waning/maintaining Empire, such charges should not be taken lightly (that is, if we believe in cultural politics and understand how they can be linked to subjugation as well as subversion). Indeed, there is already enough to address w/r/t what Sunaina Maira would call the “imperial feelings” staged by “Addiction” and its video, without needing to discuss questions of international copyrights and wrongs.

The conflation of Arab / Middle Eastern symbols and the sounds/images of South Asia has been a common thread in hip-hop’s new millennial orientalism. Such careless, ethnocentric representations are problematic not least because they contribute to the kind of us/them discourse which subtly and powerfully dehumanizes people who can easily enough end up on the wrong side of a Blackwater scope. Or, to return to Kevin Miller’s analysis:

Other Indian elements—such as henna hand designs and head movements characteristically used in Indian dance—are freely mixed with Middle Eastern elements—most apparent in the profusion of belly dancing. An indulgent fantasy space is thus created through the collapsing of two or more distinct cultures—an action that denies an accurate reference to the geopolitical origins of the Mangeshkar sample, yet at the same time pays homage to the eclectic fantasy sequences so common to the Bollywood cinema.

Maira goes a step further in her work on bellydance in the US, concluding that

Belly dancing is seductive, not just because it is sensual or titillating, but because it lures viewers into a liberal Orientalism that evades the violence of U.S. penetration of the Middle East and assaults on Arabs and Muslims in the United States and taps into a larger, and quite pervasive, cultural imaginary of “un-free” Arab and Muslim women needing emancipation by Western modernity and “democracy” that is used to justify the War on Terror.

Maira’s critique would appear to apply to all instances of bellydancing in the US (at least by non-Arabs), regardless of how conflated Arab gestures may be with, say, Indian ones (or New Age ones for that matter). This is especially true since, as she argues, such mixtures are endemic: “The belly dancing subculture loosely mixes symbols and references to the Middle East, various parts of Asia, and Africa.” But before we rush to condemn Indian-accented bellydancing as, in itself, a form of orientalist conflation, we should note, as Maira herself does, that the story of bellydance is inherently one of international hybridity, with roots in the subcontinent among other places. Indeed, it is more significant that despite such hybridity — in the form’s historical formation as well as reinterpretation in the comtemporary US — bellydance is repeatedly, ironically, perniciously reduced to a symbol of an “ancient” Middle East:

… while belly dance is hybrid in its origins — variously linked to India, Egypt, North Africa, Central Asia, Turkey and the Levant — its reinvention as a putatively “ancient” Middle Eastern dance form in the West is significant becase it has continued to be a popular site where actual Middle Eastern or Arab individuals step out of public view.

It’s worth noting, in this light — at least in defense of the dancing in “Addictive” — that the routine cooked up by choreographer Fatima Robinson for Truth Hurts, which certainly seems to my eyes to offer a mix of Arab & Indian movements and postures (however stereotypical), has direct precedent in the scene from Jyoti which included “Thoda Resham” and which DJ Quick taped from the TV. I confess that I know little about the history or forms of bellydance in India, but I think the dancer/actress in Jyoti, Aruna Irani (herself of Iranian-Indian heritage), actually is bellydancing (if with an Indian accent). Her routine may be a hodgepodge, as a lot of bellydancing is, but it certainly seems to contain elements related to bellydance — at least to my amateur eyes (expert opinions welcome).

[Update: while reading Nabeel Zuberi's informative article "Sampling South Asian Music" this morning (12 July), I encountered the following, albeit brief, affirmation of the use of Arab forms in Jyoti: "DJ Quik's account is testament to Bollywood's exotic fascination with Arab culture..."]

So despite that one critique of the Truth Hurts video is its conflation of such (presumably “ethnically” / nationally distinct?) things as henna and bellydance — not unlike Erick Sermon rapping about scooping up “an Arabic chick” over a filmi sample — the Indian-accented bellydance in the Truth Hurts video (just see the image at the top of this post), which appears to have inspired rather similar moves in “Kaliyon Ka Chaman,” is not itself necessarily a particularly American invention.

Opposing US military/economic imperialism is one thing; opposing US hip-hop producers’ forays into “foreign” territory is another (despite parallels to US bellydance). Bracketing (for now) a discussion of Lahiri’s own “sampling” practices, is the composer right to charge “cultural imperialism”? For Chris Fitzpatrick, a former features editor @ popmatters, it would seem so. In an article on “Addictive” penned for the website, Fitzpatrick advances an overbearing but by no means invalid critique of hip-hop orientalism in the would-be New American Century. But he undercuts his argument by voicing a bit of paternalistic orientalism of his own, playing preservationist for the pure, pristine, and timeless traditions of the East (/Third World). Writing about hip-hop’s orientalist producers (e.g., Timbo, Dre, E.Double, R.Kels), Fitzgerald argues that –

They set imperialism to a new bass-heavy beat, claiming traditional “third world” art forms as hot commodities.

The aural and visual epitome of this “new beat” is the Henna-soaked music video entitled “Addictive” by Truth Hurts, featuring Rakim. DJ Quik produced the song, sampling traditional Hindi music. Although the track is centered on sounds from India, the video features choreographed belly dancing: a Middle Eastern dance form. This odd combination is indicative of a typically totalizing Western mentality: India, the Middle East, what’s the difference? The entire “third world” is one big backwards and “underdeveloped” wasteland, right? Wrong, but such assumptions are embedded into every note, chant, beat, image, and dance in “Addictive,” relying on the romantic notion that the Middle East and India are inherently mystical and sexy, as if everyone studies the Kama Sutra, practices Tantric Sex, rides magic carpets, and belly dances naked in the moonlight.

While the video’s “exoticism” may seem exciting to the average Westerner, who’s more used to grinding and grabbing on the dance floor, it comes with imperialist undertones. “Addictive” paints a Westernized Middle East, offering a luxurious palace-turned-nightclub, full of beautiful models slinking and gyrating sexily on the dance floor, in “ethnic,” sequined costumes and Henna.

Bollywood may indeed be “traditional Hindi music” in its way (and draws on what might rightly be called “traditional” Indian music of all kinds), but not in the way that Fitzgerald imagines or projects here. “Assumptions,” you say? “Chants,” eh?

The question arises: If it’s not so clear-cut that the direction of influence / appropriation / exploitation / representation is a one-way (East–>West) street, how do we proceed with any conversation about musical/cultural value that grapples honestly with the question of cross-cultural exchange?

I ask because charges of cultural imperialism — whether overblown, reflexive, or sincere — can distract us from some of the more positive politics of culture on both sides of the fence (you make a border real by policing it). In these cases above, and in those below (just wait), we can hear — in addition to rehashed stereotypes — examples of what we might consider “convivial appropriation,” attempts to take part in global modernity (and local multiculture) by expressing a cosmopolitan orientation, to demonstrate open-minded, up-to-the-time tastes, all the time vibing ineluctably — I’m afraid — with the shimmer of difference under advanced global/gunboat capitalism. This is as true in LA as Bombay — sorry, Mumbai (which raises the question, shouldn’t we be calling it Mollywood now?). To put it another way, per Michael Taussig, we can hear&see in “Addictive,” “Kaliyon Ka Chaman,” and even in “Thoda Resham Lagta Hai,” the power of mimesis to “explore difference, yield into and become Other.”

Although an argument about musical mimesis — whether we want to call it copying, allusion, or influence — arguably extends to all instances of performance and production, it merits emphasis that in genres such as hip-hop and filmi the incorporation of previously recorded riffs, rhythms, and all manner of musical material is especially essential to the creative process and often crucial to the production of meaning in moments of reception.

Dancehall too. Many readers are no doubt familiar with yet another recent use of “Thoda Resham” — and, like “Kaliyon Ka Chaman,” one inspired directly by “Addictive”: the Bollywood riddim, aka “The Indian” as it was known in Jamaica, a place where East Indians have been a visible minority since the L19C. One review of the riddim notes that its appearance accompanied several other eastward-looking productions (a trend that I discuss in a piece I penned a few years back for XLR8R on Jamaica and the War on Terror):

“Bollywood” is a great bouncing riddim, actually Computer Paul’s JA rub from “Addictive”, the worldwide hit by Truth Hurts, which was produced by DJ Quick from the Dr Dre camp. Musician Paul “Computer Paul” Henton has used a sample of “Kalyon Ka Chaman” sung by Lata Mangeshkar and has also added an indian-like riddim drum pattern in order to keep up with trendy dancehall riddims like for example “Tabla”, “The Return” and “Diwali”.

There’s actually a lot more going on in Computer Paul’s / In The Streetz’s “rub” of “Addictive” than the addition of an “indian-like riddim drum pattern” (whatever that means — it actually sounds more like a stripped-down version of the percussion lines in both “Addictive” / “Thoda Resham”), including a wheezy synth line, a buzzy bass (giving it that ol’ 3+3+2 bomp-bomp), and the kind of layered variation one expects with post-millennial riddims. And when one takes into account the various other songs, melodies, & texts alluded to by the artists who “voiced” the riddim, this is — par for the course — one deeply intertextual production. As is typical for riddims these days, the Bollywood supported around 2 dozen official/sanctioned voicings, including such local hits as Beenie Man & Robyn’s “Red Red Red” (which interpolates as it critiques Khia’s “My Neck, My Back“) and, my fave, Tanya Stevens’s, “Addicted” — an obvious nod to the Truth Hurts song (and perhaps a bit of counteraction to Truth Hurts’s sometimes submissive lyrics) which includes some wonderfully assertive innuendo about men who brag about their prowess yet “cannot pitch a tent.” But I digress.

Back to filmi. No one well acquainted with the filmi tradition would deny that it too is an inherently intertextual genre, and composers have long drawn from local folk, classical, and pop music as well as the folk, classical, and pop traditions of the wider world. One favorite of mine, an example that I often use when teaching classes about Bollywood/filmi, is “Engal Kalyanam” (from Worlds of Music, a textbook I once used), which alternates between obvious rock’n’roll tropes and more local sections and includes Woody Woodpecker’s trademark® laugh as a recurring interjection –

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As I reported last summer, after a great overview of the “musical bondage” between Bollywood diva Asha Bhosle and her husband, composer RD Burman, one of the presenters, Shuchi Kothari, was quick to point out — when asked whether hip-hop appropriations of Bollywood were more “ignorant” than vice versa — that Burman was quite “cavalier” in his borrowings. And the same could be said for just about any Bollywood composer.

Lahiri is no exception. Indeed, this page details but a few of his many, many “borrowings” from the likes of Beethoven, Barbara Streisand, Boy George, and Beverly Hills Cop, to name a few beginning with B. (Interesting, innit, that in all the discussions of MIA covering the filmi hit “Jimmy Jimmy” few mention that Lahiri “borrowed” liberally from a Canadian disco group for the “original.”)

Given the degree of intertextuality in Bollywood, and the craze for “remixes” (i.e., covers), it is perhaps of no surprise that other composers attempted to capitalize on the success and resonance of “Kaliyon Ka Chaman.” (And, lest we forget, so did Lahiri, rather forgettably.)

A Kannada-language film called Rakta Kanneeru, for instance, includes a song called “Ee Deshadali Karunaadu Ide” which quite obviously and audibly takes its cues from “Kaliyon Ka Chaman” (and hence from the Truth Hurts and Lata versions as well). Perhaps predictably, given the degree of “derivation,” some viewers/listeners do not regard it very highly and accuse the director, Sadhu Kokila, of the same sort of “blatant” “copying” as Dre/Quik. As posted on a Kannada-centric messageboard (note, interestingly, the assumption that Meghna Naidu’s version is itself an unauthorized remix.):

Innu blatant copies irbekaadre intha chikka putta songs na bittbidbeku :)

Another example -

Kaliyon ka chaman by Lata ==>
Silently stolen by Dr. Dre to make Truth Hurts ==>
Back to unauthorized remix in Hindi featuring Meghna Naidu ==>
“Ee Deshadali Karunaadu Ide” … Terrible song in Raktha Kanneru by Sadhu Kokila

Judge for yourself. Here’s that one — a clear rip-off of a clear rip-off of a clear rip-off, right?

Listen to Raktha Kanneeru – kannada Audio Songs at MusicMazaa.com

As I hope I’ve been able to show to this point, setting the record straight — or telling the story right — is important not just b/c of charges of imperialism or orientalism and their implications, but b/c of our very understanding of commonplace cultural practice, especially in the age of mechanical/digital reproducibility.

Given this state of affairs, I’d like to recuperate the idea of “copying.” Sometimes in copyright/left/wrong conversations “borrowing” starts to feel like a euphemism, especially when we’re talking about digital sampling. So let’s call a spade a spade, but more than that, let’s use the more inclusive term, for it is true that sampling and recomposition each constitute, in their own ways, direct forms of copying. One may seem more “exact” to certain observers because of the way it approximates the sound of the original at such an infinitesimal level of detail. But they are both uses of rather precise, powerful technologies (digital sampling and “Western” notation) to do essentially the same thing: to recontextualize a previous performance for a new creation. Indeed, along these lines, it’s interesting that the term remix refers to this very process — making new, audibly, from old — in both “teh West” (and the wider world) as well as in India, though in the former(s) as a result of sampling and in the latter via recomposition / rearrangement.

A lot of this is, of course, nothing more than mental hand-wringing. For despite the occasional chilling effect brought on by a lawsuit, culture continues to make copies. Or to put it another way, people do. Copying and transforming cultural forms — sometimes (often?) just by making a bad copy — is not simply commonplace but crucial, and our world is richer and funnier and more connected (intertextually, symbolically, even socially) for it.

The advent and mainstreaming of the mashup is a prime example of how copying continues unabated and takes still more ostentatious forms because of the magic of binary code (0s and 1s are waaaay easy to cut’n’paste). So isn’t it fitting that a (presumably Indian?) bloke who calls himself DJ Brown Fiyah (a layered, appropriative name in its own right) mashed together “Kalion Ka Chaman” and Usher’s “Yeah” –

Or — look ma, an analog “appropriation”! — what about this blazing new joint from Maga Bo, which ended up in my inbox earlier in the week and, wouldn’t you know, opens with a pretty familiar vocal melody (which has nothing to do with Lata, btw; it’s all Truth Hurts, and yes it turns up in “Kaliyon Ka Chaman” too) –

Both examples above are, I submit, rather clear instances of how people use recognizable bits of “foreign” / global culture to articulate something new — and, notably, something locally meaningful which nonetheless can resonate in the wider world.

Just culture at work here, people. Plain and simple Rich and complex.

But in case your sense of injustice is still seething, perhaps in sympathy to Lata Mangeshkar, who, if anyone, is perhaps the artist most deeply uncompensated in all of this (not that she’s doing too badly, all things considered), allow me to pose a commonsensical counterfactual: how much do you think Stevie Wonder should sue for Lata for her performance on “Aate Jaate Hanste Gaate” (from Maine Pyar Kiya [1989])?

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It’s a silly question, isn’t it. Not least of which because Stevie and Lata are both quite well-off. But the example gets us back, yet again, to one of the most troubling aspects of all this: the tendency for people to couch their (often ignorant) criticisms in value-laden double standards. The Wikipedia page for Maine Pyar Kiya, for example, currently reads:

The opening track, Aate Jaate, is said to have been inspired by Stevie Wonder’s 1984 single, I Just Called to Say I Love You, while the track Mere Rang Mein Rangne Wali was directly inspired by Swedish rock band Europe’s 1986 single, The Final Countdown and theme from Love Story’s Where Do I Begin. The track Antakshri was a medley of various Bollywood songs based on the Antakshari game, which was popularized with this film’s release. The remaining tracks, including the popular Dil Deewana, were original compositions.

“Said to have been inspired by”? Really? Is that level of vague attribution not a little odd in such an audibly obvious case? I mean, I guess if you put it that way (who “said,” btw?), that’s not, like, copying at all. But please explain, given this wording, how other instances of “borrowing” on the soundtrack can be described as “directly inspired by” (my emph) or a “medley of” or, even, “original”?!? There is a spurious sort of double standard at play here, which is one reason I’m so interested in the particular, tangly, but in many ways representative & suggestive case of “Addictive.”

As a sidenote, tho — incidentally but not insignificantly — I am very pleased to be better acquainted with all of these tracks, including the one I’ve used for the title of this post, as well as Europe’s over-the-top synth anthem and the filmi track that combines the two –

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Yes, there are structural/financial issues at issue here and I’m far from an apologist for imperialists or capitalists, but these lawsuits and biased Wiki edits are not going to correct anything. It’s the latter that cause me more concern. I’m happy to let rich people sue the pants off each other. Who cares? I take issue more strongly with the sticky memes of originality and ownership projected so strongly by the plaintiffs of such suits. They propagate notions of “intellectual property” (a bad idea to copy, IMO) wholly out of step with cultural — indeed, intellectual — practice. They favor certain notions of musical labor or process or value that primarily or exclusively benefit themselves (and often hypocritically at that).

Truth hurts.

27 Comments Add your own

  • 1. kevin  |  July 11th, 2008 at 9:54 am

    i missed this controversy the first time around but it reminds me of a reggaeton track i’ve been burning lately: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3tM07LdtC0

    friends tell me that don omar is referencing a bellydancing / arab fashion trend that struck san juan a couple years ago.

  • 2. David  |  July 11th, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    Wow, this is a heck of a post.

  • 3. wayneandwax  |  July 12th, 2008 at 9:47 am

    Thanks for the link, Kevin. Interesting stuff. And let’s not forget, along these lines, that Luny’s sister, Deevani, has been known to (try to) croon like a filmi playback singer.

    In case it’s not obvious, David et al., this is a story I’m working on for a more formal publication (a co-authored piece with a colleague who works on “remix” in India). Just wanted to work through a lot of these ideas here, sort some things out, elicit feedback, embed all the great audio and video that won’t make it into an academic journal, etc.

    Now the big question: who’s gonna fix those Wiki entries? Feel free to cite this post!

  • 4. The Incredible Kid  |  July 12th, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    I didn’t grow up with filmi, but I’ve been a contemporary Bollywood DJ for over seven years now, and I can vividly remember the first time I heard “Addictive” on the radio. All the Desis I interacted with around the time it was a hit liked that filmi was being acknowledged in a Western song, but I kept hearing, “but why that filmi song?” I never had them clarify whether their resistance was because “Thoda Resham Lagta Hai” was not a significant filmi song, or because of its suggestive lyrics. (The Jyothi sdtrk. is still only available in India on CD as a budget triple-pack, and not its own release, which is a testament to its minor status, even after “Kalion Ka Chaman became a hit in India.) Filmi remixers will steal anything (just like filmi composers) and as soon as “Addictive” was a hit, “Kalion Ka Chaman” appeared, which was clearly an interpretation of DJ Quik’s version, more than the original “Thoda Resham Lagta Hai.” (In fact, many other low-rent, yet still officially released, Indian remixes emerged that were basically rip-offs of “Kalion Ka Chaman,” not remixes of “Thoda Resham Lagta Hai,” but re-versions of the DJ Quik-inspired “Kalion Ka Chaman.”) I have played all three songs to mixed crowds of Desis and non-Desis over the years. The non-Desis request “Addictive,” (or at least they did back in the day) the Desis to this day request “Kalion Ka Chaman,” an no one ever requests the orginal. As far as the Desis at my parties are concerned, only “Kalion Ka Chaman” is the real hit, never mind that it would never have emerged on the Indian market without the inspiration of DJ Quik. “Hey Quik, we liked the way you beefed up the beat, but we’ll jettison the English lyrics, and re-insert the entirety of the Hindi lryics, thank you,” seems to be the Desi response.

    IK

  • 5. The Incredible Kid  |  July 12th, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    Oh yeah. That media research claim is completely false, no doubt based on wishful thinking by a Desi that an Indian came up with the idea of a re-version first, and not an African-American producer from Compton.

    IK

  • 6. rachel  |  July 12th, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    where did the long post go???

  • 7. wayneandwax  |  July 13th, 2008 at 10:13 am

    Rachel, I don’t know why you can’t see the post (or couldn’t, if you can now). You’re the third person to report problems, which is a little worrisome. I suspect it’s the embedded media causing trouble — probably imeem, which can take a while to load sometimes. Not sure why that would cause the text of the post not to show up tho :(

    And thanks for the perspectives, IK. I suspect you’re right about “Media Research.” I find it dismaying how influential his/her claims have proven to this point.

    As for “Thoda Resham,” I actually quite like the original and can see why it caught Quik’s ear — the beat is fantastic, the melody soars, and, of course, he was completely oblivious to the lyrics. Reading Nabeel Zuberi’s piece on sampling South Asia yesterday, I learned that the lyrics are hardly salacious at all, or if so, they’re definitely in the realm of subtle innuendo:

    A garden of buds is made
    It looks (or seems) a little like silk
    It looks (or seems) a little like a mirror
    The pearls crash
    It looks a little like gold

    Call me a desensitized pervert, but I don’t really find those lyrics too “suggestive” (even with the talk of buds, silk, and pearls).

    Still, I can understand that for filmi fans, this would seem like a capricious choice, which it was (or serendipitous anyhow). I can also understand, given “Thoda Resham”‘s relative insignificance, that “Media Research” would decide an Indian remix could only have possibly come first. I have the Jyoti soundtrack on CD (which I found @ Devon Ave last year) and, as you say, it’s on a triple-pack of other Lahiri productions (b/w Apne Paraye and Pyaas).

    And as for the “many other low-rent, yet still officially released, Indian remixes emerged that were basically rip-offs” of KKC, I’d be grateful if you could point me to any others that I haven’t discussed above. The more, the better, I think, in terms of telling this story as richly as possible.

  • 8. The Incredible Kid  |  July 13th, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Wayne, I think the original song is fantastic, I definitely play it out on occasion, I just wanted to make a point about what version gets requested by a Desi diasporic audience. The original doesn’t register.

    http://www.bollywoodlyrics.com (“http://www.bollywoodlyrics.com/categories/showET.asp?id=9&lyricid=1400) translates “Aisa gora badan tab banta hai” as “Such a fair body is then made.” And that was the lyrical vibe I remember, a woman praising her body to men, which is where I got “suggestive” from, but you’re right, its not like the lyrics are slack. However, I wouldn’t underestimate the power of innuendo in Hindi film song lyrics to derive their intent. In a Bollywood movie (up until recently) the characters wouldn’t kiss, they moved behind a tree, but everyone got the point, and I think filmi lyrics often operate on a similar level of wink, wink, nudge nudge.

    The post-”Kalion Ka Chaman” rip-off remixes I remember were all official Indian releases around 2003/2004 aimed at the Hindi remix market. I’ll dig around and see if I can turn some up.

    IK

  • 9. wayneandwax  |  July 14th, 2008 at 10:02 am

    Thanks to desiblog (via Richard Rough) for offering this lengthy interesting quotation from DJ Quik in Urb Magazine (ca. Nov/Dec ’05):

    Some Indian people are still mad at me for that song, because they thought that it bastardized their culture. I’ve had Pakistani people interview me that are so standoffish it’s almost disrespectful. They are authentically pissed off about that record. I was watching this Bollywood channel that popped up on our cable service called Zee TV and I saw some dope shit going on. I recorded it onto my VCR, dubbed it down to a mini disc, put it into a drum machine and (BT Express’) “Do It ‘Til You’re Satisfied” just went right through it –they both had that Panjabi rhythm. I put it on tape and gave the track to Dre. He thought it was some innovative shit and had Truth do her vocals and mixed it. So who was the real producer? I wasn’t even in the studio when Dre produced the song. He didn’t have to throw me a bone and give me full production credit, but he did. It started a little trend. I heard Tim doing it, Erick Sermon. Even the people that sued us had to admit the shit was hot.

    I love that Quik elaborates not just on the technical process of (directly) sampling Jyoti but on the musical / creative process, discovering that the BT Express break and the Lata original both had the same rhythmic accent, which he calls — not incorrectly (though we shouldn’t think that this is what BT Express was going for) — “that Panjabi rhythm” !

    Also, the phrase “authentically pissed off” –

  • 10. wayneandwax  |  July 14th, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    Still diggin’ on this one…

    Turned up a more recent lawsuit from the same company, Saregama (formerly HMV India, which enjoyed quite a monopoly in Indian media prior to the rise of casettes, piracy, and indie activity) which has sued Aftermath once again, this time for a production by Timbaland / Danjahandz for the Game’s “Put You On The Game” which apparently samples Lata once again.

    In an AllHipHop article announcing the lawsuit, the comments become a conversation about hip-hop sampling India, and vice versa. One post, by a self-ID’d “British wi Pakistani Parents,” points out a kind of (structural?) hypocrisy that goes beyond Lahiri’s liftings — the contemporary reuse of US hip-hop hits by bhangra artists. That’s essentially, of course, what “Kaliyon Ka Chaman” is. He writes,

    Im fully backin dre on this simply coz

    Okay maybe dre used the sample last time round but how many indian tracks have a beat originating from dre beats and slightly cut and scratch to sound slightly different,

    One example ill give ya- DJ Sanj- Americas Most Wanted album has loads of dre beats blatantly COPIED Aarrrrrrgh this pisses me off, there are two tunes on that album with a Still Dre Beat and then theres another beat copying Busta Rhymes Night Rider Beat, Damn this sucks, they are hypocrites my god.

    Man the point is they need to know how many beats are being copied by them and then come and sue, Dre can retire if he finds out how maay of his beats are used and were talking 5 to six years ago minimum, hell be a gazillionaire with the lawsuits.

    Indeed — rich people suing rich people notwithstanding — given Saregama’s Bridgeportian approach this decade, Universal / Aftermath / Interscope / etc., might do well to begin some sample-sniffing of their own.

    Of course, my own position — this research notwithstanding — is: Stop Sniffin’

    4 the litigious types anywho –

  • 11. rachel / theantisuck  |  July 14th, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    glad to know it was tech difficulties, i was shocked that you had deleted the post.

    i disagree with richard that those are def bellydance moves, a lot of those moves are a mix. ‘bellydance’ is such a modern dance anyway, drawing from sources across the middle east, turkey, etc (& thererfore already spanning thru at least 3 continents and dozens of countries) it seems silly to get that upset for mixing it with indian dance b/c i think thats fairly ‘normal’ at this point & has been done in american bellydance history for decades in a semi-established way. Of course, w/ all this blending there is a danger of exoticizing/othering/having no idea where this stuff actually originates and not caring – but to give some credit, most of the girls i know who took bellydance lessons in college are pretty well aware of its indian/mideastern places of origin. (tho i ‘spose college chics may not be the norm) is there even a traditional bellydance? Just trying to read the wikipedia history of bellydance is mindboggling – people seem to agree that bellydancing is a traditional (and therefore legitimate) dance of somewhere, but arent sure where. (i love the line: Wherever it began, the dance has a long history in African and the Middle East )

    Anyway, i think the mix is a very natural one – its all about muscle isolation – the isolation of hip and belly muscles and movement is super similar to the isolation of hand movements in indian dance, which in itself mixes very well with isolation in legs/ bums and midriffs in hh/dancehall/etc. For all the reasons in that article you posted ( http://wayneandwax.com/pdfs/maira-arabface.pdf ) bellydance isnt really taken seriously by dance academia, so there are not many reputable bellydance schools or sort of framework/establishment to work with, which is a shame b/c whats not to like about the idea of critical, self aware bellydancers?

    & b/c were mixing anywayz? Arabic pop w/ western pop http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72tf3qiVhhY & arabic pop can be pretty ‘orientalist’ in itself, ex. nancy ajram plays a mid-eastern mixed w/ gypsy/roma peasant girl cliche here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8r7YoDgft0 Bollywood film also borrows hip-hop moves allllllll the time, and incorporates bellydance moves as well. I could prolly find a better example (and im sure all here believe me) but the white skirted back up girls in kajre re from bunty aur babli http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ceo48gUQrjw (@1:19) remind me of the back up girls in the hips don’t lie video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygctbqBijFk As for the complaints of the over-the-top theatrical “exoticism” of the truth hurts video, complete w/ lanterns carpets et al… have they never seen a bollywood movie? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jUBEBbhowE I feel like that aesthetic is pretty similar to how india markets itself. ( http://www.incredibleindia.org/ note all the spice/color refs.) that fantasy/escape of course isn’t real but a functioning place that seems pretty similar whether its indians dreaming it up as a mythical india vs. people everywhere else doing the same. This ‘indulgent fantasy space’ may not just be serving occidental interests, but used, adapted, creating and serving the interests of global communities.

    ( btw… Bollywood movies play on tv in the middle east and africa more than they do here. If people can look at hollywood stars all over the world and fantasize about an american dream i kinda like the idea of a globally functioning indian dream (a more 3rd world empowering, ‘wholesome’ dream). perhaps it could also be a product of india’s growth too – these days bollywood movies are extremely attractive high budget creations and can feed jealous mid eastern/african kids who are keenly aware of those booming asian markets. http://www.samarmagazine.org/archive/article.php?id=21 )

    I think the hip-hop use of indian/arab face has its own roots/connections, and orientalism plays its own interesting roles in rnb/hh musics in the states. rap and bolly both project fantasy spaces & there are awkward / iffy / fun / transformative appropriations on both sides http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19C5Zm_mHV8 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49iYj9LSOYM

  • 12. Birdseed  |  July 15th, 2008 at 10:46 am

    Whoa, another sprawling mega-post where you’d want to reply with at least six different angles of attack. I like these!

    I think I’ve voiced my support for the central conclusion of the post often enough – we’re so often thrilled at mimesis when it happens through Africans copying Latin Americans or Latin Americans copying Africans. But suddenly when the supposedly rich west (we’re still talking black americans here, not Fred Astaire) copies something it’s potentially reprehensible. Indian music, in particular, has been copied all over the world – and when poor working-class Greeks in the 50s do it, or Indonesians and Trinidadians in the 70s, or British/American/Guyanan diasporadic indians in the 90s, that’s fine and beautiful.

    So, by the way, is seemingly The Beatles and the hippies copying indian music in the sixties. To me that is actually even more “orientalist” than the belly-dance thing*, even though I’ve criticised that and similar practices (Capoeira is a personal hate-object) often enough. Claiming all indians (or africans or arabs or Rastas) are carrying some sort of ancient, spiritual wisdom demeans them more, I think, than claiming they like to party. “Westernised clubs” are not as uncommon as some people seem to think, nor as alien, and deep spiritual values get reported on and distorted towards way too often.

    * I was at an Egyptian wedding last summer in northern Sweden and they’d hired a Swedish girl to belly dance. They didn’t think afterwards that she’d been authentically good enough, but still. European belly dancing is not all orientalist fun-play.

  • 13. Pete  |  July 15th, 2008 at 11:05 am

    I agree with Birdseed on two counts: first, great post. A ton of food for thought here, Wayne, and all presented with a healthy bit of distance and perspective. Your bias toward sharing freely and re-mixing comes through, but I’m sympathetic to that myself, so . . .

    Secondly, Birdseed’s comments re: mimesis are spot on here, and they reflect something peculiar and clearly recurrent in Wayne’s examples. It will be interesting to see what hip-hop shifts to for a sense of “newness” next when the allure of filmi becomes a bit more familiar. Will it no longer capture racial and sexual imaginations as it seems to here?

    What a post!

  • 14. wayneandwax  |  July 15th, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    I don’t think it’s Richard with whom you disagree, Rachel. I think it’s me. At least, I’m pretty sure that I’m the one up there saying that the dancing in all three videos (TRLH, KKC, and Addictive) seems pretty obviously to be bellydance related/inspired/inflected. Of course, I’m also careful to note above that bellydance is itself a hybrid form and can’t really even be located stably/solely in the Middle East.

    That part of my discussion above — the critique of certain critiques of “Addictive” — is an attempt to note how starkly people can draw the lines (say, between Arab and Indian dance-culture) even in the service of anti-imperialism/ethnocentrism. I’m trying to counteract, despite no doubt my own myopias, a pat, lazy, kneejerk anti-orientalism that serves to massage liberal/prog egos on the hook for wars-abroad and intolerance-at-home more than it actually informs our imagination of Other places and our policies toward Them.

    Your (decentering) point about Bollywood in the ME and Africa (never mind Southeast Asia) is a good one. I’m reminded of Brian Larkin’s work on Bollywood and Nigerian subjectivity (e.g.), never mind the vibrant, distinctive sphere of activity that is Nollywood itself.

    As is your observation that hip-hop and bwood both “project fantasy spaces” — which we def need to bear in mind not just in instances of orientalizing and occidentaiizing, or as u nicely put it, “awkward / iffy / fun / transformative appropriations” but also in self-exoticizing/essentializing gestures. Along these lines, a couple quotations from that Nabeel Zuberi piece are worth sharing. The first wrt the marketing of images of India to itself — esp the “Punjabified” diaspora — via Bollywood; the second wrt Bwood composers’ “occidentalism” and the odd one-sidedness of this discussion (which connects to Birdseed’s point about which cross-cultural examples we tend to value and admire and which we feel the need to dissect and critique).

    Bollywood is the noisiest and most vivid element in a system that produces the affects associated with Indo-chic: colour, taste, subaltern suffering, spirituality, and exotic sexuality. (p.58)

    Some of the critiques of sonic orientalism have been reluctant to discuss their occidentalist counterparts in India, delegating them to footnotes. By my estimation, Giorgio Moroder should be receiving handsome royalties from Lahiri and RD Burman’s Indian disco tracks. (p.62)

    Along these latter lines and related to the comment above about Indian producers, ironically, ripping off Dr.Dre — don’t miss DJ Sanj’s “Next Episode” as shared by the Masala boys a while back.

  • 15. Birdseed  |  July 15th, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    BTW, nice to see all this talk about DJ Sanj here (or was it here and on DesiHits?). He’s been a favourite of mine since back in his Americas Most Wanted (Vol 1) days. He does pretty awesome bhangra stuff and some really radical bollywood mixes, like redoing “O Saathi Re” as 80s-tinged Latin Freestyle on his album Classix. That’s a guy you should have DJing at hipster parties!

  • 16. wayneandwax  |  July 15th, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    Came across the following passage in Peter Manuel’s Cassette Culture today, which makes the Lahiri lawsuit against Dre/Aftermath all the more sweetly ironic:

    The amount of plagiarism within film music has greatly increased since the early 1980s, incurring repeated denunciations by critics like Subhash Jha, who see such parodies as reflecting the decadence of the genre. By far the leading offender, and the primary butt of criticism, has been film-music director Bappi Lahiri, who is regarded by some as largely responsible for the entire trend. Lahiri is a highly popular disco-oriented composer, who invites controversy and elitist disdain by boasting of the quantity of his output — scores for roughly 30 films a year, totaling over 360 films by January 1990, thereby earning mention in the Guinness Book of World Records, and the contempt of reviewers like the ever-quotable Jha:

    Off goes the composer, hunting for pop-rock tunes to pilfer from English, Swedish, African, and Pakistani charts . . . This, then, is the tragedy of film music today. A tragedy engineered by Bappi Lahiri almost single-handedly.

  • 17. Birdseed  |  July 16th, 2008 at 9:50 am

    And on a tangential note, there’s the news of Snoop Dogg’s collaboration with Akshay Kumar for a forthcoming bollywood release…

    http://www.desihits.com/blog/article/akshay-kumar-and-snoop-dogg-shoot-singh-is-kinng-20080715

  • 18. Birdseed  |  July 16th, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    I don’t know if this reply will go through, I seem to have got stuck in the spam filter the last three times I tried to post a comment to this post.

    Anyway, I thought an interesting tangent to this post is the recent news that Snoop Dogg, bhangra act RDB and actor Akshay Kumar are recording a collaboration for a Bollywood release “Singh is Kinng”…

    http://www.desihits.com/blog/article/akshay-kumar-and-snoop-dogg-shoot-singh-is-kinng-20080715

  • 19. Boima  |  July 18th, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    Chiming in on the greatness of this post!… Lot’s to think about motion seconded!

    I love the DJ Quik quote above, AND in my head thoughts of the whole neighborly thing. I love to get up on Saturday morning and dance along with the Bay Area Indian video shows. They’re the only ones on basic cable that still actually play music videos. Like in the good old days of dancing along to the snowy images from the Box.

    Indian music is something I’m not really up on, and I know there’s crews in my urrea that hold it down regularly, like Mr. Rajah’s night at Bollyhood in my neighborhood. But as another example of the reverse borrowings, I have tactile memories of my beloved Busta Rhymes 12″ with the Fire Up Remix instrumental on the b side played at 45 RPM’s being given the Bhangra remix treatment (adding a drum), and all of a sudden it blows up and is the world’s most danceable record. I just remember thinking, I could have done that!

    Also…

    Thugee – Panjabi Mc

  • 20. Nabeel Zuberi  |  July 25th, 2008 at 5:47 am

    Great post and fascinating discussion, Wayne. Thanks for the props. A Pakistani friend of mine who lives in LA and knows a few film industry types told me that he met a big group of Lahiri’s folks/Saregama who were expecting a bigger pay out and partying like it was 1999. Have you heard Flying Lotus’s Rickshaw from his LA EP 1 X 3. And the album LA also features one track that goes beyond Beat Konducta. If I can slight King Otis.

  • 21. The Incredible Kid  |  July 26th, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    I finally had a chance to go through my Hindi remix CDs after a week in NYC. Six years ago 74th St. in Jackson Heights, Queens was stuffed with Indian (Hindi and Panjabi) music shops on both sides of the street, and on all cross streets, but now there are only two music shops left on the main strip, after two of the longest-standing four left have apparently shuttered since my last visit a year ago. The downloaders have won, the community music shop is fading away.

    I’m not a musicologist, so pardon my non-technical descriptions of the remixes I found. If I include websites or phone numbers, they are printed on the CD packaging, and I am not vouching for their currentness in the slightest.

    Harry Anand re-versioned “Kalion Ka Chaman” himself for T-Series (www.t-series.com) on the “DJ Hot Remix” CD in 2003. New keyboard sound and a guitar playing a different rhythmic accent. The same version re-appears on “DJ Hot Remix Volume 2.” Indian remix compilations love to recycle.

    Harry Anand also included “Kalion Ka Chaman” as the third song in a “MEDLEY” on the “Story of Umi” compilation. It now has a typically bad commercial Indian cod-rapper chatting in English over the top. That came out on Universal in 2003.

    Nupur Marketing Inc. (www.nupuraudio.com) in 2003 released a Hindi remix compilation called “Greatest Ever Remixes of All Time Hits” with songs remixed by “Kanchuman at Rangayan.” The music is also credited to “B21 Music Factory.” The cover advertises the “DHOL MIX of Kalion Ka Chaman.” It is re-sung, and newly produced, clearly inspired by Harry Anand’s version for UMI-3, with indeed, an emphasis on heavy dhols playing over the track.

    As far as the American bootleg Hindi remix scene, I found several versions of “Addictive” and “Kalion Ka Chaman.” Bootleg Hindi remixes are as numerous as the sands, and this is not a complete list, but only the ones I happened to pick up back at the time.

    “New York Underground Volume 1″ which says to write nyunderground@hotmail.com opens with a version of “Sharara Sharara” which uses the DJ Qwik “Addictive” break, Lata’s vocals, and Rakim’s rap from the official “Addictive” remix, as well as his rap from the original over “Sharara Sharara.” There is only a tiny bit of Truth Hurts’ vocals at the end of the track.

    “Pdawg presents Mango Mix The Album” has a track called “Addictive Indian Mix” which uses the “Addictive” break, Lata’s vocals, Rakim’s original rap, and only a little bit of Truth Hurts’ vocals at the end. It mixes in a new flute part and the “koo koo koo” vocals from “Choli Ke Peeche.”

    “SB Recordz Prezents Hot Shot Part One” remixed by DJ Shaan and DJ Binni (718-468-0567) has a track called “Addictive Indian Version” which actually uses “Kalion Ka Chaman” and not “Addictive” as its sample source. There are some new snatches of sampled melodies (Bollywood I assume) I don’t recognize, both of Rakim’s raps, and no Truth Hurts.

    “Desiness Xtreme Xtacy III” remixed by DJ Rick and DJ Sensation (www.desiness.net) features a track called “Addictive w/ Dhol” which is Addictive” with Truth Hurts’ vocals, and a dhol playing over the top.

    I want to empasize that these bootleg remixes that I happened to buy are probably a drop in the bucket compared to what came out at the time.

    IK

  • 22. The Incredible Kid  |  July 26th, 2008 at 8:10 pm

    I should mention that I didn’t analyze the remixes too closely, but listened to them really quick, and simply wanted to write my findings here sooner rather than later, since I said I was going to do so two weeks ago.

    After re-listening to DJ Shaan and DJ Binni’s mix, I realized that my notes were wrong, their version only includes part of Rakim’s rap from the official 12″ remix, and none of his rap from the original version of the song. Sorry about the screwed-up info.

    IK

  • 23. wayneandwax  |  July 28th, 2008 at 9:12 am

    Holy moly, IK! Thanks for all that info. I’m amazed by how many contemporary versions you suggest — and affirm — join those I discuss above. This is really rich stuff and will no doubt be useful in trying to tease out the complex issues around borrowing and copying and stealing swirling around this case. I’m gonna have to seek these out and give them a listen myself. Really appreciate the tips!

    And, Nabeel, thanks for pointing me to “Rickshaw.” What’s interesting about that one is how muted / fragmentary / suggestive the use of Indian samples is. I think it stands in contrast to more obvious examples, such as Madlib’s Bollywood stuff or the “Addictive” example. I’m reminded also that one of the earliest examples of hip-hop remixing filmi — and one of my faves — is Automator’s Bombay the Hard Way, which I still really like for a few reasons: 1) the source material is great and, even better, very clearly draws heavily on “Western” music, esp blaxploitation and spy-film scores; 2) Automator’s approach is both reverent and audibly original; 3) there’s an underlying sense of humor and kitsch which seems to take its cue from B’wood as well as offer a wink w/r/t its own infatuation with this stuff.

    Clearly, there are many, many ways to flip a sample. It’s interesting to think about how such “flipping” can connote different kinds of engagements and, er, orientations.

  • 24. wayneandwax.com » s&hellip  |  November 1st, 2008 at 9:32 am

    [...] not so poetic really, was some bollywood navel fetish site embedding text from a post i wrote about mutual appropriation btwn filmi and hip-hop, presumably to boost their google juice. (for that reason, i refuse to link [...]

  • 25. stuff showing up places &&hellip  |  December 18th, 2008 at 12:48 am

    [...] this video’s basic premise could beget major analyses, I’m less interested in what snoop is doing in the punjab (or australia?) and that now [...]

  • 26. DJ Anjali  |  April 28th, 2009 at 2:58 am

    I meant to post this ages ago, wayne do you know the bobo & agony song “soca taliban” on the “lif up yuh leg an trample” comp? you might hear something familiar in there….

  • 27. wayneandwax.com » I&hellip  |  January 16th, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    [...] some 6 years ago, so this was really quite a welcome fruition of a longstanding project (which I first blogged about way back in July 08). For helping to bring this into the world, I’d like to thank another [...]

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Wayne&Wax

I'm a techno-musicologist, internet annotator, imagined community organizer.

I left my <3 in the digital global, but I reside in Cambridge, MA, where I'm from.

I represent like that.

wayne at wayneandwax dot com

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