Pakistani hip hop music

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Pakistani hip hop is a music genre in Pakistan, influenced heavily from merging American hip hop style beats with Pakistani poetry.[1] The genre was initially dominated in English and Punjabi, but in recent years has expanded to Urdu, Sindhi, Pashto, and Balochi.[2]


The contemporary hip hop and rap movement in Pakistan grew out of the globalization of American hip hop in the early 1990s. Some Pakistani artists began experimenting with rap and hip hop as early as 1993 when Fakhar-e-Alam released his first album Rap Up, where his single Bhangra Pao is commonly acknowledged as the "first rap song in Pakistan". In particular, the rise in popularity of Eminem in the late 1990s and 50 Cent in the early 2000s influenced many of today's hip hop artists in Pakistan such as "Party Wrecker" (Mustafa Khan) of the Pashto rap group Fortitude, Qzer (Qasim Naqvi) and DirtJaw.[3]

The first Pakistani rap song was "Bhangra Rap" (1993) by Yatagaan (Fakhar-e-Alam), which became a major headliner on Pakistani music charts.[4] The hit 1995 song "Billo De Ghar" by Abrar-ul-Haq also featured rapping.

Hip hop and rap culture in Pakistan during the 1990s and early 2000s was mainly centered around those with a good grasp of English (a socioeconomically privileged group). Pakistani hip hop and rap artists at this time were mainly underground English acts and were dismissed by the media and mainstream as "Eminem ki aolad" (Eminem's children) and "yo-bache" (yo-kids).

Genre development[edit]

Hip hop music in Pakistan is still an emerging genre. Since the early 1990s, it has been performed taking inspiration from underground English scenes to regional Punjabi rap in the early 2000s, before branching out into various other languages.

By the late 2000s, Punjabi rap began influencing non-Punjabi speakers to experiment with hip hop in other Pakistani languages, thus leading to new Sindhi and Pashto hip hop scenes. Urdu rap artists tried initially but failed to leave a mark on hip hop. This was due to class and linguistic politics dictated in the mid-nineteenth century by the British Raj, who had replaced Persian with Urdu as the official language. Combined with Pakistan's own tendency to privilege Urdu over indigenous languages a dichotomy was created in the country whereby Urdu is associated with urbanity, power, privilege and sophistication, while other Pakistani languages such as Punjabi, Sindhi and Pashto were considered "crass vernacularism". Although the genre has grown considerably in recent years, it is still considered fringe and underground by the older generation who tend to stick to traditional Pakistani music or Pakistani pop music.


Punjabi rap[edit]

It is known that Punjabi rap existed in Pakistan even before 2000, used by folk singers and street artists to amaze audience of how fast they can speak Punjabi, although it was not labeled as rap.

Punjabi rap was notably popularized by Pakistani American rapper, Bohemia, A Punjabi Christian, born in Karachi, schooled in Peshawar, and brought up in the working class minority communities of San Francisco, Bohemia's music emerged from personal experiences, such as seeing his best friend murdered and several others sent to jail. In 2002, Bohemia released his debut album 'Vich Pardesan De (In the Foreign Land)' that gained a lot of popularity in desi diaspora all around the world. later in 2006, Bohemia released his second album Pesa Nasha Pyar (Punjabi for "Money Drugs Love") commercially backed by Universal music. Pesa Nasha Pyar stood out as lyrically groundbreaking. With Universal's distribution network, Bohemia found a ready market among Pakistanis, both in the diaspora and in Pakistan itself. This proved as catalyst for local Punjabi rap scene in Pakistan and ignited the fire in younger generation of many Pakistani rappers. Early wave of Punjabi rap in Pakistan had a lot of artists such as Xpolymer Dar, Billy X, AK The Punjabi Rapper, Young Desi, Desi Addicts, Peace Grip, Zammu Faisalabadi, M.Zhe, FreeStyle Co (FSC), Blac Panther & D-Naar. A lot of these artists stopped making music due to non-acceptance and not being able to generate enough income to support themselves. While a lot of punjabi rappers continue to release their music independently on social websites such as Orkut, Myspace and ReverbNation. a major chunk of that music can still be searched and streamed.

In 2012, a popular Pakistani television program Coke Studio featured Bohemia on track School di kitab which gained a lot of positive response from rap and non-rap listeners alike all over Pakistan.

In 2017, Shoiab Mansoor, a Pakistani television and film director released OST Power Di Game of his forthcoming Lollywood movie Verna that contained Punjabi rap voiced by Xpolymer Dar, making him first rapper in Pakistan to be featured in Lollywood movie and further popularizing the rap genre.

Urdu rap[edit]

The Urdu rap genre is recently the fastest growing in the country. Majority of the Urdu rappers are heavily influenced by Bohemia, a famous Punjabi rapper. In 2012, Urdu rap first gained popularity after rapper [5] released one of his controversial songs "Awaam". The song targeted the system of governance and was a sleeper hit. His other renowned songs include Muskura, Jawab de, Waasta and several others.

Subsequently, the genre gained increasing popularity after a hip hop music duo Young Stunners, consisting of two independent Urdu rappers Talha Anjum and Talha Yunus, released their first song Burger-e-Karachi, a satirical take at the westernized urban elites and upper middle class people of Karachi. The song became instantly viral. Following which they threw back to back hits among which are Maila Majnu and Laam se Chaura. They lead the Malir Rap Boys and have successfully collaborated with different artists like Irfan Junejo and Asim Azhar. Currently, they are considered the pioneers of the Urdu rap. Other collaborations include Indian rapper KR$NA, for the successful song "Quarantine". The track has over 10 million views on YouTube.

Then there is the Pindi rap scene consisting of all rounder and someone whose help put hip-hop on the map in Pakistan, Osama Com Laude who is one of the most viral, veteran & mainstream hip-hop artists in all of Pakistan with over 17 million views to his name alone, multiple shows globally, collaborating with international sensations like Edward Maya, Ali Zafar, Major Lazer, Valentino Khan. Their collaborative song Pindi Aye was also a super hit.

Other notable rappers include Chinese-Pakistani entertainer Chen-K, Rap Demon, Savage, Sunny Khan Durrani, Jani, Munab A. Manay, Wustaaz, Marshall, Maarij, Kaashxn 2damn and others.

Pashto Rap[edit]

In 2011, A rap group from Peshawar, released a track named Pukhtoon Core by Fortitude. This was the first time anyone made a rap song in the Pashto language. Soon the band started making hits like No Borders, Lewani, Outrageous, Alongside Rap Demon and in 2019 they finally dropped Era of Pushto which was a comeback music and it made waves across TikTok, Recently Fortitude Pukhtoon Core, Released the official Anthem of Peshawar Zalmi for HBL PSL.

Sindhi rap[edit]

The Sindhi hip hop scene draws on a history of linguistic nationalism of Sindhis. Many Sindhi rap artists are attempting to resurrect and mainstream Sindhi culture in Pakistan using hip hop. Many Sindhi rap artists are also continuing the long Sindhi tradition of Sufi poetry, by including them into rhymes. Ali Gul Pir's Waderai Ka Beta, Meer Janweri "Piyar Jo Siphai" and are recent Sindhi rap songs that have gone mainstream and shows signs of the genre expanding beyond Punjabi.

Balochi rap[edit]

Lyari Underground (L.U.G.) is a from Lyari, as the name suggests. Currently playing at local festivals, L.U.G don’t plan on stopping anytime in the near future & breakout artists like Sami Amiri, Anas Baloch & Eva B are promoting the Lyari/Balochi culture through hip-hop.[6]

Saraiki rap[edit]

The Saraiki hip hop scene in the country is said to be limited due to the language being a dialect of western Punjabi language and still in its nascency.


Urdu rappers[edit]

Punjabi rappers[edit]

Bilingual rappers[edit]

Balochi rappers[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Pakistani Hip Hop: Buying Culture, Making Art".
  2. ^ A Pakistani Rapper Breaks New Ground The Wall Street Journal
  3. ^ [unreliable source?]
  4. ^ Horn, David; Laing, Dave (2005). Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World Part 2 Locations (5 Vol Set): Volumes III to VII. Bloomsbury Academic. p. 126. ISBN 9780826474360. The styles associated with rap, hip-hop and house all make their appearance in Pakistani popular music. Among the early leaders in this type of music were the Lahore duo Yatagaan. Their first video, 'Bhangara Rap' (1993), indicates the complex overlapping of musical styles and style labels in much popular music. The song became a major headliner on Pakistani music charts.
  5. ^ Faris Shafi
  6. ^ "Baloch rapper Abid Brohi aims to conquer Coke Studio". 18 January 2017.