Tuesday, December 10, 2002

More South Asian Stuff and Pop Culture

I am really intrigued. In fact, I really do not understand it, but I think I am a fan. I am referring to the new hip hop and now apparently American cinematic trend of adding South Asian flavor to both American music and film. Sure the Dr. Dre/Truth Hurts/Lata song is old news. So is the Erik Sermon Redman song entitled "react" where redman appears (if i got my hindi correct) to be down with suicide? And now two new developments: Shania Twain and Jay-Z. Jay-Z on his album the Blue Print 2 has a track entitled "The Bounce" in which in the middle, fans of the movie Khal Nayak perhaps might get excited as, he has sampled words from that famous song"Choli Ke Peeche." What I find interesting is that when I would go to Desi parties, especially during my undergrad years, we would go to hear, and have a blast listening to hindi remixes, by the way,whatever happenned to lil jay and dj jiten-shouldn't they be blowing this up? Now it seems, there is no remix involved, mainstream artists have caught on to hindi composition, and it is interesting to see how hip hop and new, and even older hindi music blend so well. I guess it just takes some established American hip-hop artists to bring the sound mainstream. Timbaland and Missy Elliot started this trend with "Get Ur Freak On," which legitimately sampled from Panjabi MC's "Mahi" (which is a really good song and incidentally due to the huge success of the Mundia Tho Bach Ke track-yes, the Knight Rider one-i think it is being re-released on a major label). I just hope the South Asian thing doesn't get over played or overhyped so as to yesterday's trend.

Update, it appears Lata Mangeshkar/SareGama India are going ahead with their lawsuit. I found a press release last week on their attorney's website, which in a paragraph explained that,

"The lawsuit is in response to the flagrant disregard, and disrespect, for Attorney Davis’ client’s religious beliefs, culture and ownership of the copyright. Some of the lyrics in “Addictive” are obscene and offensive, and cause extreme offense, to the company’s owners and to the sensibilities of many Hindi and Muslim people. Saregama India Limited has been in existence for over 90 years, and the misuse of the company’s copyright threatens its reputation and standing."

I hope you noticed, but the release said, "Hindi and Muslim", instead of "Hindu and Muslim." So I emailed the attorney, and within the hour, I received a response, and the problem was corrected. Needless to say for Lata's sake, I hope it was a typo-and not just some shoddy research.

Anyway, getting back to topic I also heard, quite weirdly that Shania Twain enlisted the British Indian producers Simon and Diamond to produce part of her new album UP! If you buy the album, you get three discs-a red one, a green one (one is a pop version, the other country) and a blue one which is supposed to be an international mix. I think the lyrics are the same throughout, and it is just her selection of music that has changed. Part of the blue album was produced in Bombay, and it is so strange to hear typical bollywood background music in the intro, and then all of a sudden, Shania Twain's twangy American voice. I am not so sure it works, but I guess it is for everyone else to decide.

The last bit I wanted to add to this had to do with cinema and a lot of media reports detailing bollywood actually coming to hollywood and vice-versa. I just saw the new Jimi Mistry (East is East), Marisa Tomei, and Heather Graham movie, entitled "The Guru." The movie, while there are scenes that many Desi parents may be averse to, is highly entertaining. First of all, who wouldn't pay money to see non-South Asian people do a bollywood-ishtyle song and dance sequence. Well, it gets better, because both Heather Graham and Marisa Tomei get dolled up in Sari's and Indian gear and participate in the lip syncing and Indian dancing that Bollywood is famous for. It is hard to explain how this happens exactly, and I guess I could explain it, but I don't want to ruin the excitement for anyone, so just see it, and relish in your own reaction. What is niceabout this film, is how it represents the really cool parts of globalization. Western artists singing and dancing to Bollywood songs, and South Asian actors in western films doing dances to songs from famous musicals like Grease. Also noteable in the film is Ajay Naidu-who, if you ever read this, you should have your own website.

I would love to hear what you guys have to say about this so please feel free to comment.

ps. one paper down, two more to go!


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