Saturday, May 28, 2005

Black Eyed Peas stole from R.D. Burman in latest hit

First rule of Bollywood: Never ever cross Amitabh Bachchan.

In 1970’s spy-movie time, Bachchan shined in his role as Don, in the movie of the same name. Don is the badass smuggler who kills anyone who messes with him. He isn’t distracted by money or sexy vamps who throw themselves at him. He says “some other time baby!” And is off.

Everyone knows this rule. That is, everyone besides the Black Eyes Peas.

Earlier this week I stayed late after school after all the students and most of the teachers left. It was just me and some janitors blaring hip-hop on the stereo as they mopped the floors. All of a sudden I heard the beginning few notes of “Yeh Mera Dil Payar Ka Diwana” and thought “are they really playing R.D. Burman on Q102 (a fucking Clear Channel station)?”

Then instead of Asha Bhosle’s voice coming in, I hear Fergie singing “Oh no no no no, don’t mess with my heart.” I was outraged. I’m mad that “Don’t Phunk with my heart” is the 2nd highest download on iTunes now and I can guarantee the majority of people listening to the track think that its some hot original work…. When its totally not. Could it be anymore repetitive? Most people will tell you how great this album is and how the BEP are so "original" and “edgy” with their genre bending sound. Yes it’s true that music recycles itself, but I think it is unfair for artists to make money and not give credit to the original. And in a place like India, which has no concept of intellectual property (or doesn’t have laws to protect artistic work like in the States) it is easy to steal. And since most people who listen to current Top 40 don’t also listen to Bollywood music from the 70’s it is easy for artists to get away with sounding original and not recycled.

So I want to write a post to pay homage to the original song, Yeh Mera Dil Payar Ka Diwana, sung by Asha Bhosle (lip synced by actress Helen) and produced by her husband, the late R.D. Burman (hope you aren’t turning in your grave dude) exclusively for the 1978 movie Don.

You can hear the lame, yet popular, “Don’t Phunk with my Heart” on iTunes or played every hour on any cheesy Top 40 station. (But first, listen to the original, Hindi version that the BEP bit off of.)

In Don, Bachchan plays a Dirty Harry, Shaft-like cool dude smuggler who has men trying to catch him from all angles. Don is killed within the first quarter of the movie (the cops don’t know this). But, what the cops ALSO don’t know is that Don has a look alike. Some unsuspecting, goofball street performer. Sure the story line is cheesy, but I think it is one of Amitabh’s most complex roles. He MAKES the movie. You know what also makes the movie? The music. And the fact that some corny, gimmicky hip-pop group stole it saddens me. At least when Dan the Automator sampled from old Bollywood tracks in Bombay The Hard Way: Guns, Cars And Sitars, he does it with class and more importantly, he gives credit. He isn’t trying to “hide” the fact that he swiped the music.

In the scene leading up to the song, Helen tries to seduce Don by getting into a skimpy white outfit and singing “Yeh Mera Dil Payar Ka Diwana” which loosely translated, means “My heart is maddened with love.” But is Don impressed? No.

And either am I (with the Black Eyed Peas.)


At 10:51 AM, Blogger Kogi Kaishakunin said...

SC don't be so upset. Do you know the number of Hindi songs that blatantly copied from Western pop? I guess it is time for some payback...

At 4:43 PM, Blogger rockstarandtheniff said...

As long as they don't rip off Silsila, I'll be fine.

- Rockstar

At 4:44 PM, Blogger chowda said...

thanks for shoutin me out, when i was the one who came over with that movie last year. i see im still gettin no respect.

there are proper ways to re-work music, a la Bombay the Hard Way, which samples Don - by the masters, Automator and Shadow.

i dont listen to the radio but the Black Eyed Peas always sucked anyways.

but lets not forget all the US movies that get bitten on bollywood. not too much shit is original in any case.

At 7:52 PM, Blogger Fly said...

well at the risk of sounding uncool. I like BEP, well their old stuff anyway. I'm not a huge fan of fergie, but as an MC myself I give props to Wil I Am. He's increadibly talented as an "original" emcee (in that his flow sounds like that of someone who has been rhymming for a while). He's no way my favorite, but I do believe he and BEP serve their roles just as Eminem, Kool Keith, Biggie, and Ja Rule do as well. There is a niche for everyone. This isn't to say everything is GOOD music, but everyone needs to find their market.

Which brings me to my thoughts on the biting of the south asian track. I'm in marketing. my job is to take products that suck, figure out what they need to make em better, make em better, and get the world to eat it all up.

Marketing, when you are working with music or any form of art is alot trickier. Music, particularly hip hop is now seen as a product. This wasn't always the case, and although it spoils some of the artistic aspects of it. It has created a great deal of pride and power to urban communities. People like BEP who now get props on Nickelodeon are reaching a great deal of white suburban kids living in middle america who don't know what a philipinno is.

The thing with marketing music vs. say marketing a book, is that with a book giving credit to others is just standard practice. No matter who you credit whether or not the name is recognizable, the quote gives a level of value to the words. There is a certain level of respect there. With music giving props is sadly just a marketing tool.

Unless the name of the person you jacked the line from is gonna get you props or you might get sued over it, you aren't likely to see any artist, hip hop or not, giving credit to anyone.

Fact is guys like Gangstar and Elvis have been acused of doing it and if you can't get on them to give credits, then BEP isn't going to either.

Its not fair. Its not good for music. BUT IT IS REALITY.

If things are gonna ever change, then maybe South Asia should stop letting its culture get exploited and robbed so much.

Oh and on that note, Truth Hurts that one hit wonder who did a track with Rakim (one of the best emcees ever) did the same thing too, except she said "Well I went to the 7-11 and I asked the guy if it was ok to use the sample, he said it was, I ain't know it was a big deal and shit."

Again, its not right, but we need accept that music is a product. If you (and I'm speaking directly to you, SC) do anything to add to an individuals product and don't get proper (not fair, cus nothing in life is fair) credit or payment for it, you are being exploited and taken advantage of in the same way as lil kids in african diamond mines.

To borrow from something I heard in a Blackstar song, an artist and miner have alot more in common, they "both on assignment to unearth a diamond".

At 11:27 PM, Blogger Fly said...

the line about south asia letting its culture get exploited was in terms of not having outlines rules regarding copyrighting etc.

At 12:00 AM, Blogger Space Cadet said...

Thank you for introducing me to the world of DON, ummm, "Chowda"

Sorry I fell asleep like half-way through

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