15 Rap Songs Influenced By Middle Eastern And Southeast Asian Music
The word “exotic” is a huge misnomer sometimes, but it’s probably the only word you can possibly use to describe the sound of hip-hop mixed with a hint of some dholki or bansuri. Those are Indian instruments in case you didn’t know, but adding those sounds along with the multi-linguistics of Arabic, Hindi, Urdu, etc. bring a certain something to the often hard-hitting basslines found within rap music.
We’ve collected some of the best thus far, from features to samples. So break out your Google Translate and check out our picks. --KI
“Paid In Full” (The Coldcut Remix) Eric B & Rakim
Sample: Ofra Haza – “Im Nin’alu”
Israel’s own Ofra Haza was responsible for making Eric B & Rakim’s “7 Minutes Of Madness” possible. Once the volume was pumped on “Paid In Full,” she chanted “Im nin’alu” in the smooth poetic sample. What does it mean? Well the full line is “Im nin’alu daltue n’divim daltei marom lo nin’alu,” which in Hebrew means, “Even if the gates of the rich are closed, the gates of heaven will never be closed" (thanks Wikipedia). Wow, a sample that actually makes sense to the song. What a genius concept.
“Addictive” Truth Hurts Featuring Rakim
Sample: Lata Mangeshkar – “Thoda Resham Lagta Hai”
So here’s the story with this one. DJ Quik produced the track for fallen Aftermath soldier Truth Hurts. When his wife used to yell at him, he would turn the Indian TV station up really loudly, and one day during their yelling sessions, Lata Mangeshkar’s “Thoda Resham Lagta Hai” was the blaring song of choice. Quik liked the song, recorded a snippet, and used it on “Addictive.” The sample was never cleared and a $500 million lawsuit followed. The end.
“Indian Flute” Timbaland & Magoo
Feature: Raje Shwari
Kudos to Timbaland for attempting to speak Punjabi on “Indian Flute” as he says, “Aaja sohniye mein pyar kiya,” which basically means, “Come here, Beautiful. I love you.” He probably got that flirting tip from Raje Shwari who was aligned with his camp for a bit until she wasn’t. She rocked on a few other hip-hop tracks that you’ll be reading about soon enough if you keep clicking this list.
“Give It To Me” Mobb Deep Featuring Young Buck
Sample: Alka Yagnik, Manpreet Akhathar & Udit Narayan – “Tujhe Yaad Na Meri Aaye”
In addition to the hypnotic beat, you can find the “Ahh Ahhs” from “Tujhe Yaad Na Meri Aaye” faded in the background of Mobb Deep’s “Give It To Me.” They could have chosen any “Ahh Ahhs” in the whole entire world, yet they chose those. Good choice, guys. It made a good song even better.
“React” Erick Sermon Featuring Redman
Sample: Asha Bhosie & Mohammed Rafi – “Chandi Ka Badan”
Hot song, but here’s a big problem with sampling songs in a language you don’t understand. Once the sample rolls in on the hook, Erick Sermon and Redman cheerily chant, “Whatever she said, then I’m that.” Um okay. What if she said, “Anyone who samples my voice and doesn’t speak my language is a loser”? What if she said that, guys? She didn’t so they’re safe. But what if?
“The Bounce” Jay Z & Kanye West
Feature: Raje Shwari
Sample: Alka Yagnik & Ila Arun – “Choli Ke Peeche Kya Hai”
Wow, how’s that for a double whammy? Timbaland produced the beat, had his girl Raje Shwari on the hook (it was her hip-hop debut), singing a sample from a song called “Choli Ke Peeche Kya.” And there you have it. It’s no surprise Timbaland has a vast knowledge of Indian music samples. He knows everything else, so why not that too, right?
“All Y’all” Timbaland Featuring Magoo & Tweet
Sample: Solas – “Maid On The Shore”
The cool part about this sample is that Timbaland took the beat and then kept the melody for his own song, so he maintained the integrity of the original sound recording. The confusing part here is that with a beat that so obviously has a Southeast Asian influence, why not feature an artist to help out?
“Beware Of The Boys” Jay Z
Feature/Sample: Punjabi MC – “Mundian To Bach Ke”
Okay, the real scenario is that Punjabi MC released a song called “Mundian To Bach Ke,” and then Jay Z jumped on the track as a feature so they translated it into the English “Beware Of The Boys.” Sure Punjabi MC is awesome and so is his song, and everything Hov touches turns to Gold, but let’s be honest here: The real winner is the opening beat. Whenever the club hears the instrumental, lives are changed.
“Don't Phunk With My Heart” Black Eyed Peas
Sample: Asha Bhosle – “Aye Naujawan Hai Sab Kuchch Yahan”
Not only is the beat sampled on Black Eyed Peas’ hit single, but Fergie sings that “Oh na na na don’t phunk with my heart” in the same melody as Asha Bhosle’s. The Black Eyed Peas must be Bhosle fans, because they sampled “Kisi Ki Jaan Lete Hain” for “My Humps” as well.
Sample: Parvati Khan – “Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy Aaja”
M.I.A.’s “Jimmy” is almost like a cover of Parvati Khan’s disco-fied track, considering almost everything from the beat to the hook is identical. When M.I.A. was featured on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, Fallon was convinced that Maya Arulpragasam wrote that song for him. Not quite, dude.
“Big Pimpin” Jay Z Featuring UGK
Sample: Hossam Ramzy – “Khusara Khusara”
You know the riddling beat of Jay Z’s classic track, and you know the producer it came from (Timbaland, of course). However, years back, Timbo and Jay were sued over the sample, for five million dollars. The lawsuit was ultimately dismissed, but had it continued, that would’ve been the most expensive price for a beat…paid for by both the rapper and the producer.
“Make Me Better” Fabolous Featuring Ne-Yo
Sample: Sherine – “Al Sa’ban Aleh”
That hypnotic beat you hear on Fab’s track about being a better person because of his girl? Well it’s the opening instrumental to Sherine’s “Al Sa’ban Aleh.” Check out the original song when you have a moment, and you’ll hear that it sounds more romantic than the remake – even with Ne-Yo on the hook.
“Raise Up” Petey Pablo
Sample: Hossam Ramzy – “Enta Omri”
Petey Pablo’s brief success was due in part to a single about removing one’s shirt and mimicking a propeller with it over one’s head. Neat. However, beyond Petey’s instructions to “Raise up!” and remove your shirt, it’s the beat that traps you and has you topless by the end of the song. That’s Hossam Ramzy’s doing.
Sample: Khaled – “Aïcha”
There isn’t anything particularly “exotic” about this sample, but it exists so there it is. Chucky Thompson did manage to find a subdued track to pull from, as Nas crafted one of his most heartfelt songs to date about his mother. With the dark mellow beat (and sample), Nas discusses his mom’s passing and turned a dedication into an instant classic.
“Hood Scriptures” Foxy Brown
Sample: Ragheb Alama – “Ya Boy”
Those who know this song by Foxy Brown love it, though it isn’t one of the Ill Na Na’s most noteworthy cuts. Lebanese singer Ragheb Alama is the sample she used on the hook, though it doesn’t exactly sound like it fits within the crux of the song. Let’s keep it 100 though: it sounds cool and that’s all that matters, right?