Fun fact to get this introduction going: that famous song called “Brimful of Asha” by Cornershop—and Fatboy Slim’s even more famous Norman Cook remix—is a tribute to this singer. **Asha Bhosle**is a true Indian icon who held the world record as the most recorded artist in music history. The staggering total: she recorded 11.000(!) solo songs, on top of many duets and chorus-backed songs. No wonder the likes of J Dilla, Madlib, Flying Lotus, DJ Scratch, Erick Sermon, Black Eyed Peas, WondaGurl (for Travis Scott’s “Uptown” featuring A$AP Ferg), and GonjaSufi all sampled some of her vast catalog.
Madlib takes the crown when it comes to sampling Asha Bhosle’s music, with multiple samples for tracks ranging from Madvillain (“Do Not Fire!”) and Blu & M.E.D. (“The Turn Up”), to several tracks on Beat Konducta Vol 3-4: Beat Konducta in India. The album cover of that record is a take on B. R. Chopra's Burning Train; one of the countless Bollywood films featuring Asha Bhosla in its soundtrack credits.
“A personal favorite is ‘What’s Happenin'' by Method Man & Busta Rhymes,” says Ben Gray of Royalty Network. “It features a sample of ‘Dum Maro Dum,' as performed by Asha Bhosle in the classic 1971 Bollywood film, Hare Rama Hare Krishna. The track puts a classic beat behind two of the greatest rappers of all time, and puts an irreplaceable psychedelic underpinning to the whole work. It’s genius.”
Lata Mangeshkar, also known as the nightingale of India, has sung in over 500 Bollywood films (eight of which she also acted in), blessing movies with her high-pitched singing style. A small world in a big country: she is Ashla Bhosle’s sister, who are both considered to be living legends.
Her work was sampled for music by the likes of Britney Spears (watch the video below - we’ve included her for a reason), Madlib (again, a ton of times. This time also for Bandana with Freddie Gibbs, Jaylib with Dilla, and Quasimoto’s The Further Adventures of Lord Quas), The Alchemist, Four Tet, and many others.
R.D. Burman is one of the most acclaimed and influential composers in Bollywood, who changed the face of Bollywood music by incorporating influences from all over the world in his music. Take the synthesizer on “Music of Bond 303,” or how “Aao Twist Karein” was influenced by rock-and-roll classic “Let’s Twist Again” by Chubby Checker. Another way how he revolutionized the sound of Indian cinema, is by using foley techniques in his compositions.
Again, it’s a small world: R.D. Burman was the son of the legendary music director and singer Sachin Dev Burman, and he married Asha Bhosle in 1980. And it goes without saying that the list of artists sampling this Indian icon, is also long: Kanye West, Mike Dean, Prince Paul, Exile, Mathematics, Timbaland—you name them...
Producer and multi-instrumentalist A.R. Rahman has been widely celebrated with a ton of awards, including two Academy Awards and two Grammy’s for his music to Slumdog Millionaire. Later on in his career, he started experimenting with fusing traditional Indian instruments with new electronic sounds and production techniques. Whereas he started out with clear influences from (Western) classical music and Tamil folk traditions.
Kishore “Baba” Kumar was a beloved Bollywood playback singer and actor, who followed in the footsteps of his big brother Ashok Kumar. He was known for his versatile voice, adjusting his pitch to the actors on-screen. *“His voice used to hit the microphone straight at its most sensitive point,”*said his brother after Kishore Kumar passed away from a heart attack in 1987. The night before, he recorded a new duet with Asha Bhosle. That’s also with whom his career started. As the story goes: early on in their careers, they went for a duet recording. However, the studio producer rejected both of them because they “weren’t good enough.” Kishore joked that they should become street singers because they couldn't make it into cinema. "We worked with renewed vigor, putting our best efforts into our profession—the rest is history," said Asha Bhosle in a 2014 interview with The Times India.
Prolific (playback) singer and actor S P Balasubramaniam picked up on music at an early age. He learned to play the harmonium and flute on his own while listening to his father playing these instruments. His catalog is 40.000 songs deep which, like Asha Bhosle, earned him a Guinness World Record, among many film awards. He cited Bollywood playback singer Mohammed Rafi as a big source of inspiration.
S.P.B.’s work is characterized by his deep rich voice and for understanding the full meaning of the songs he sings—which is not always the case for Bollywood playback singers Half a year ago, Balasubramaniam passed away after COVID-19 complications. “With the unfortunate demise of Shri S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, our cultural world is a lot poorer,” India’s Prime Minister wrote on Twitter after his passing.
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