دس میں کی پیار وچوں کھٹیا
Sampling is rare in modern Pakistani pop.
The reasons for this are not completely transparent. Onerous licensing discussions with EMI, and now their brutal enforcement on YouTube (as seen with Coke Studio 12) is probably part of it. Another vector is that modern electronic music relies heavily on sample libraries, that come with flexible licenses and immense variety. The ease of using these libraries compared to sampling older Pakistani music is significant.
A related aspect is that at least some modern Pakistani musicians are perhaps divorced from previous generations of music from this country. The influences of modern Pakistani electronic musicians and hip hop producers are primarily western. For some current artists, you could even make the argument that modern Indian production may be more influential than Pakistani popular music from around the turn of the millennium. I’d venture a guess for example, that the influence of Indian hip hop on current Pakistani pop may be greater than the influence of 90s Pakistani rock.
When Coke Studio announce the entry of electronic music producers, I thought it was an excellent opportunity to bridge Coke Studio’s past and present with Pakistani music’s past and present – have modern electronic artists artfully sample older songs and use them to new effect. Perhaps this idea was not considered seriously, or the ghost of covers going bad on Coke Studio still weighed heavy. But the introduction of electronic producers to this year’s Coke Studio did not come with sampling.
To this end, I actually find the use of Justin Bibis in Peechay Hutt interesting. Because if you didn’t see them performing on video when you first heard the song, you might have mistaken their part as a sample of something old. Talal and Xulfi use a nostalgic melody and almost samplify the Justin Bibis. Instead of presenting them as something new, presenting them as old stars we may have forgotten. This plays in well with how the Justin Bibis originally went viral online. It wasn’t that long ago, but it seems reminiscent of some good old past that is now being reaffirmed in a future-looking Coke Studio.
In the repertoire of modern Pakistani electronic music, one remix stands out as an excellent example of using an old recording and making it relevant in an electronic context. This is producer Ghauri’s remix of Das Main Pyar Wichon Ki Khattia by Yamla Jatt. Yamla Jatt is a Punjabi folk legend from the Indian side of the border. Ghauri’s remix is minimalist in a sense, in that while the electronic elements are distinctly audible and prominent, he doesn’t do too much. The piercing strength of Yamla Jatt’s voice shines through, and the melody of the original latches on to your mind still. It is Ghauri’s best work, by far.1