10 Best Electronic Songs that use South Asian Samples

We look at the top mixes of electronic beats and South Asian samples – a vibrant fusion of culture, innovation, and fiery beats!

10 Best Electronic Songs that use South Asian Samples

"I find myself crying to this song, it's beautiful"

Electronic music is a genre known for its boundary-pushing innovation, especially when it comes to using South Asian samples. 

The amalgamation of electronic and South Asian sounds has birthed a collection of tracks that present an entirely fresh sound to audiences.

From the instrumentation of R.D. Burman to the angelic melodies of Lata Mangeshkar, electronic artists have drawn inspiration from the rich musical heritage of South Asia.

The result? Crafty compositions that resonate with both nostalgia and modernity.

Interestingly, hip hop has been the standout genre when it comes to South Asian samples. 

Producers and artists alike have been using the iconic sounds of Bollywood, Punjab, Bhangra, Sufi, and more. 

So, it’s intriguing to see the Western spin on these cultural numbers. 

Likewise, some of the tracks listed do have a more urban delivery, however, the use of funky and trance sounds means they apply to the electronic genre due to its experimental nature. 

Tricky – ‘Ponderosa’ (1994)

Sample: Jagjit Singh – ‘O Maa Tujhe Salam’


In the 1994 release ‘Ponderosa’, Tricky masterfully integrates a captivating sample from Jagjit Singh’s ‘O Maa Tujhe Salam’.

This union of electro beats and South Asian vocals creates a timeless sonic experience.

Tricky’s production seamlessly weaves Singh’s vocals into the fabric of the track, inviting listeners on a hypnotic journey of cultural fusion.

‘Ponderosa’ stands as a testament to the limitless possibilities when artists fearlessly blend diverse musical elements.

DJ Shadow and Zack De La Rocha’s – ‘March of Death’ (2003)

Sample: Ravi Shankar – ‘Lust’


The genius of ‘March of Death’ lies not just in its beats but in the symbiosis between DJ Shadow’s innovative production and Zack De La Rocha’s incisive lyricism.

The sampled fragments of Ravi Shankar’s ‘Lust’ add an intriguing layer, infusing the track with a touch of classical Indian mystique.

The ethereal sitar notes from Shankar intertwine with the pulsating rhythm.

DJ Shadow skillfully slices and accelerates the original beat while incorporating deeper bass frequencies into its foundational structure.

This provides the perfect canvas for De La Rocha to deliver his rap verses.

For music lovers seeking a journey through the unexplored realms of sonic innovation, ‘March of Death’ is a compelling exploration. 

Handsome Boy Modeling School – ‘The Hours’ (2004)

Sample: R.D. Burman – ‘Shalimar Title Music’


‘The Hours’ ingeniously borrows from the legendary R.D. Burman and his composition of the title track from the movie Shalimar

At its core, ‘The Hours’ is a testament to the duo’s mastery – Dan the Automator and Prince Paul.

They skillfully marry hip hop sensibilities with the timeless allure of Burman’s classic piece.

The lush instrumentation and hypnotic rhythms pay homage to the legacy of Burman while propelling the track into a contemporary sonic dimension.

In this musical collage, Handsome Boy Modeling School’s ‘The Hours’ doesn’t just sample; it orchestrates a conversation between two worlds.

Caribou – ‘Odessa’ (2010)

Sample: R.D. Burman – ‘Are Dil Se Dil Mile’


Canadian composer, Caribou, aka Dan Snaith, showcases his sonic prowess by deftly integrating Burman into an electronic dreamscape.

The sampled allure of ‘Are Dil Se Dil Mile’ infuses ‘Odessa’ with an undeniable groove.

Snaith’s production expertise shines as he transforms the vintage melody into a contemporary masterpiece.

The rhythmic pulse of ‘Odessa’ carries the echoes of Burman’s composition.

It creates a hypnotic atmosphere that resonates with both electronic aficionados and lovers of classic Hindi cinema.

Heems – ‘Soup Boys’ (2012)

Sample: Dhanush – ‘Why This Kolaveri Di’


Heems’ ‘Soup Boys’ (2012), transforms a viral sensation into a vibrant musical experiment. 

Behind this cultural remix lies the rapping skill of Heems and the quirky charm of ‘Why This Kolaveri Di’.

The result is a dynamic track that pays homage to the viral sensation while adding layers of depth and complexity.

Dhanush’s timeless song lays the major foundation for the American rapper to thrive. 

The number has a crunk rap type of song, which is a subgenre of electronic music.

Whilst it is not strictly ‘electronic’ due to its bassy rap and drum emphasis, it has the cross-genre experience where the genre thrives. 

Jai Paul – ‘Sr8t Outta Mumbai’ (2013)

Sample: Vani Jairam – ‘Bala Main Bairagan Hoongi’


Jai Paul is a British songwriter and producer whose ‘Sr8t Outta Mumbai’ (2013) is from his album Leak 04-13 (Bait Ones)

The song intertwines the East and the West by sampling Vani Jairam’s ‘Bala Main Bairagan Hoongi’ from the 1982 movie, Meera.

He manages to transform the Hindi classic into a cutting-edge masterpiece.

Whilst his sound is very niche, the mystery behind Paul’s character and compositions allures listeners. 

Chopping and changing Vani’s vocals and moulding them with vivid percussions is futuristic and a work of art. 

Swet Shop Boys – ‘Benny Lava’ (2013)

Sample: Devan & Anuradha Sriram – ‘Kalluri Vaanil’


Step into the vibrant universe of Swet Shop Boys’ ‘Benny Lava’ (2013), a genre-defying track that marries the worlds of hip-hop and Bollywood nostalgia.

Comprised of Riz Ahmed and Heems, the duo use Devan & Anuradha Sriram’s ‘Kalluri Vaanil’ from the Indian-Tamil movie Pennin Manathai Thottu

They turn the anthem into a trappy and hypnotic adventure, weaving their wordplay, rhyme schemes, and unorthodox delivery. 

The result is a delightful fusion that pays homage to the golden era of South Asian cinema while carving a space for itself in the modern music landscape.

This is especially seen towards the end of the track.

A slow-motion voice echoes out lyrics against the backdrop of vocals from ‘Kalluri Vaanil’.

This trippy finale is immersive and a testament to the versatility of South Asian samples. 

Junglepussy – ‘Satisfaction Guaranteed’ (2014)

Sample: Ilaiyaraaja, S. P. Balasubrahmanyam and S. Janaki  – ‘Chittu Kuruvi’


Crafted by Shy Guy, the titular song from Junglepussy’s inaugural mixtape in 2014 features a sample sourced from the opening moments of Ilaiyaraaja’s ‘Chittu Kuruvi’.

The sample used is from the 1985 Tamil film Chinna Veedu.

Extracted from a sound effect during a forehead kiss scene, Junglepussy employs this snippet akin to a metronome beep, initiating her track with it.

In its original context, the sample captures the whimsical portrayal of romance often depicted in Indian cinema.

‘Satisfaction Guaranteed’ shines by merging the lush melodies of ‘Chittu Kuruvi’ with contemporary beats and razor-sharp lyricism.

Malfnktion – ‘Bombay Rhapsody’ (2015)

Sample: Mohammad Rafi – ‘Pukarta Chala Hoon Main’


Malfnktion is a music project from India’s Aditya Alamuru. His ‘Bombay Rhapsody’ (2015) is a song that plays with Bollywood and modern beats. 

The masterful sample in this piece is from the velvety voice of Mohammad Rafi in ‘Pukarta Chala Hoon Main’.

As ‘Bombay Rhapsody’ takes shape, Rafi’s timeless vocals serve as the anchor.

Malfnktion cleverly uses the vintage-type static that was present in a lot of historic Indian cinema due to the sound quality.

However, it adds a layer of depth to the final product.

Add in the dubstep-style drops and wobbly bass, and you have a genre-defying track from “one of the best and most underrated artists in India”. 

Four Tet – ‘Morning Side’ (2015)

Sample: Lata Mangeshkar – ‘Main Teri Chhoti Behana Hoon’


Four Tet’s ‘Morning Side’ allows the legendary Lata Mangeshkar’s voice to take centre stage.

One can argue that this isn’t a sample, and is instead a remix due to the extent to which Lata’s voice is used.

However, the 20-minute track breaks up into chapters, each dedicated to the funk, soul, and electronic sounds of the British underground.

Four Tet, known for his intricate production, weaves the timeless melody of India’s nightingale into a collection of ambient sounds. 

The brilliance of ‘Morning Side’ lies in its ability to evoke emotion and nostalgia while embracing the present. 

With over 350,000 YouTube views, it’s an incredible anthem that is the perfect example of how electronic music and South Asian samples can work.

The power of the track is undeniable, with one person commenting on YouTube:

“I find myself crying to this song, it’s beautiful.

“It almost sounds like a prayer.

“I’m listening to something so personal, intimate, divine, and loving.”

This is definitely one of the top songs to listen to! 

In the grand symphony of electronic music, the utilisation of South Asian samples emerges as a compelling narrative that bridges continents and epochs.

From the bustling streets of Mumbai to the avant-garde studios of electronic producers, this musical fusion beckons us to appreciate the harmonious marriage of tradition and innovation.

As the beats of the future echo with the melodies of the past, these electronic tracks stand as timeless testaments to the universal language that unites us all – music.

Balraj is a spirited Creative Writing MA graduate. He loves open discussions and his passions are fitness, music, fashion, and poetry. One of his favourite quotes is “One day or day one. You decide.”

Videos courtesy of YouTube.

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