Turkish folk singer inspires US rappers
ISTANBUL – Anadolu Agency
An important voice in Turkish protest music, Selda Bağcan has seen her music influence an artist light years away from her musical universe for the second time in recent years.
Her song “İnce İnce” was recently used as a sample in hip hop producer Dr. Dre’s long-awaited album “Compton” released on Aug. 7.
The 66-year-old singer did not feel the need to hide her ignorance about the rap singer when asked what she thought of Dr. Dre’s latest album, which was streamed 25 million times during its first week out on Apple Music and was downloaded nearly half a million times on iTunes.
“He is not a singer that I know very well,” said Bağcan. “I sing folk songs, how would I know about him? I know Madonna and Michael Jackson,” she said, giggling.
Bağcan has acquired fame in Turkey with her political lyrics. A prominent figure of the 1960s in Turkey, she made several trips to jail for a total of nearly five months for either singing in Kurdish or turning banned poems by Turkish poet Nazım Hikmet into song lyrics.
She celebrated the 44th anniversary of her music carrier this year by also releasing an album “40 Songs of 40 Years.” The album, released by her own record company Major Music on June 13, currently ranks second on Turkish entertainment retailer D &R’s music chart.
Bağcan who lives in Istanbul’s Bosphorus neighborhood Tarabya with more than 20 cats in a duplex house, says Dr. Dre’s team contacted her for copyright purposes: “[They] have not paid copyright yet but it is likely they will pay, we are waiting,” she says.
Andre Romelle Young, aka Dr. Dre, is a former member of rap group N.W.A. (Niggaz Wit Attitudes), which is widely recognized for having revolutionized rap music with such hits as “Express Yourself” and “F--- tha Police.”
He is considered the richest rap artist in the world after having sold Beats Electronics, an audio product company of which he is the co-founder, to Apple for $3 billion last year.
However, the iconic hip hop producer who launched the careers of such rap stars as Eminem, Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent, is not the first rapper to use a sample from Bağcan.
From 1976 album
So far, says Bağcan, the best use of her song “İnce İnce” was made by Mos Def, an American hip hop singer who won a Grammy award with his 2010 album “The Ecstatic,” which includes “Supermagic” featuring Bağcan’s song.
The song “İnce İnce” comes from Bağcan’s 1976 album “Türküola” and is based on a folk song by Aşık Mahzuni Serif (1940-2002), a folk musician, composer and a poet.
Dr. Dre uses the same riff as Mos Def in his song “Issues.”
Today, Bağcan believes her fame outside of Turkey is bigger than in her home country, as she has been able to witness while performing at rock festivals around the world in the last couple of years.
Recently, she took the stage at a festival in the Netherlands with Tel Aviv-based rock band Boom Pam.
“The audiences were singing Turkish songs with us,” she said. “It is unbelievable they take an interest in [our songs] more than audiences here [in Turkey].”
According to Bagcan, the interest in her songs is a result of her music’s strong ties to Anatolia.
“This music is from Anatolian lands, something they [foreign audience] are not used to,” she said. “And also my voice is impressive. There is pain, rebellion, sadness, every voice of this land.”
During the 1960s, Turkey was not immune to the cultural phenomena hitting youths in Western countries.
Bağcan is no exception. As she blends Western music with Turkish folk songs, the result is “marvelously modern,” she said.
Bağcan is preparing for another concert in the U.S. next year.
Meanwhile, the movie “Straight Outta Compton” about Dr. Dre’s pioneering outfit N.W.A. took the U.S. box office by storm last weekend.